Three Twitter Searches You Didn’t Think Were Possible

Jason Preston (@jasonp107) is the Director New Media at the Parnassus Group, hosts of 140: The Twitter Conference (@140tc)

Let’s face it, Twitter is all about search. Real time search. Why else would they redesign their home page to show off their search functionality? The amount of real-time information pulsing through their service at any given minute is impressive, to say the least.

But for all that, Twitter’s built-in search is a frustratingly limited tool, providing access to a very limited amount of the data set available via the web site or their API.

Enter TweepSearch, a search application built by Damon Cortesi that allows you to search through the profile information of over 10 million unique accounts.

Here are three things you can do with TweepSearch that you can’t do with Twitter Search:

Search By Profession

Wouldn’t it be nice if you could find other marketers on Twitter? Other journalists? Other social media experts? Well it turns out that you can, at least as far as people volunteer their professions in their profile.

Searching for “journalist” on Tweepsearch yields, at the time I write this, 16,099 people you could potentially follow. “Marketer” pulls in 89,061.

These are all people who have added the term “Journalist” or “Marketer” somewhere in their Twitter bio information. You’re not going to get everyone of course, but then again, you’re probably not going to follow 16,000 people, either.

Search by URL

Let’s take the “profession” trick one step further; what if you wanted to find out who, on twitter, is associated with a certain business URL.

It’s a bit of a hack because TweepSearch won’t independently search the URL field, so if someone types a URL into their “bio” field, it will also show up too. That said, it works pretty well.

Say you want to know who on Twitter is associated with the game Spymaster. A good start would be to search for people who list playspymaster.com as their profile URL. Type:

www.playspymaster.com

into TweepSearch, and you’ll see a list of 22 results. Easy enough to comb through and pluck the real ones from the list.

Search within someone’s friends

Another cool trick you can pull with TweepSearch is to search within the bios of someone’s friends only. For example, if we wanted to see how many of Robert Scoble’s friends mention Rackspace in their bio, we’d type the following into the search box:

@scobleizer rackspace only:friends

This particular search turns up 69 friends. I Guess Scoble is popular at the office ;)

There are a number of other cool types of search you can do based on the data Damon has available through TweepSearch. If you’re interested, there’s even a handy help page to walk you through it.

Happy hunting.

Comments

  • August 4, 2009

    Being able to search within friends will be very useful for finding new people to interact with. Thanks!

    I wonder if Twitter will step up its own search abilities to offer something similar.

  • August 4, 2009

    Very cool! I’ve often become a little frustrated with Twitter’s search limitations. This is a great alternative.

  • August 4, 2009

    Great post, thanks!

  • August 4, 2009

    TweepSearch looks great! Its just one more way to target leads through twitter which is never a bad thing. I wrote about using twitter search operators to narrow your searches and target leads last week.

  • August 4, 2009

    Really useful article! I had no idea about these searches, trying it out right now! :)

  • August 4, 2009

    Searching the profiles of someone’s friends is super useful. Forget Scoble’s friends tho, the greatest use I can see in this is learning more about your own friends. Use this search to deepen your relationships and uncover who among your followers shares specific interests of yours. Especially helpful if you follow a ton of people.

  • August 4, 2009

    Steven-Sanders – I think twitter’s procedure tends to be “let’s not build it and see who does.” Given that all this information is available through the API, I’m surprised there aren’t more tools like TweepSearch.

    Adam – good timing, then, right? ;)

  • August 4, 2009

    Sweet! Very nice that an app was made to make target searches simple. There is a way to do this via a Google search, but it is much more complicated and hurts my brain to try to figure it out. Thanks for the cool find!

  • August 4, 2009

    Hi, Damon here – thanks for the great post on TweepSearch.

    Regarding the URL search, it is actually possible to search the URL field using the following search:

    url:playspymaster.com

    I’ve added this to the TweepSearch help page as it wasn’t there before.

  • August 4, 2009

    Very cool. I admit that I use Twitter more to research companies than to actually communicate. The url search is a very handy way to find the “unofficial” Tweeters at a company.

  • August 4, 2009

    Wow, this is surreal. Damon and I worked as sys. admins for the same team in college….and to see his name pop up in a blog I read regularly…

    Keep up the good work Damon!

    Kita

  • August 4, 2009

    These are great techniques. Another way to further hone a search by profession is to target users geographically. So to use the example of above, if you’re looking for journalists in Chicago, just type “journalist Chicago,” and TweepSearch will include relevant results by scanning not only the bio but the user’s designated city, assuming they chose to input one.

    Thanks for sharing these.

  • August 4, 2009

    That is a great tool to find users your interested in following. Really fast aswell.

  • August 4, 2009

    Fantastic post, looking forward to digging deeper into the options! Twitter search is one of the most under used tools available and having another app which helps you dig a bit deeper is fantastic! Thanks!

  • August 4, 2009

    Great script, better than regular twitter search I think.

  • August 4, 2009

    I find searching within friends is so helpful, esp. if you want to search from your geeky friends

  • August 15, 2009

    Thanks, you just skyrocketed my whole twitter experience … superb.

  • August 16, 2009

    This is a very interesting and timely article. The first and only truly semantic search engine that works on Twitter data is TipTop now available in a beta version at http://feeltiptop.com This engine understands each and every tweet just like a human being would. As a result, it can discover from within the data the very best tweets organized nicely along a variety of categories and data-driven concepts. The entire platform learns from data as data flows through the engine. Give it a shot and let me know what you think.

  • February 16, 2010

    Heads for this Twitter Search Engine:) Thanks for bringing this to us. I love to experiment on different Twitter tools.

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