Using Twitter Search to Track Trends

Niraj Sharma |
 05/29/19 |
3 min read

Using Twitter Search to Track Trends

If your audience – or any segment thereof – is active on Twitter, you want to know. You also want to know what they’re talking about – and what topics are trending – so you can reach them. Here’s how Twitter Search – in conjunction with AI Analytics – can help.

Get A Bird’s-eye View of Social Audiences

Twitter’s built-in search features offer a great way to start your search. We’ll share in a moment why it can’t take you far enough on its own, but as a first step, it’s perfectly fine.

Basic search – the little search bar at the top right, next to your avatar – lets you quickly find simple things, like:

  • Posts containing a specific keyword
  • Posts containing a specific hashtag
  • Post by a specific user
  • Handles of users you want to check out

For instance, if you’re not sure if Taylor Swift’s handle is @TaylorSwift or something else, this is where you find out. For the record, her handle is @TaylorSwift13.

Basic search is really only useful for answering that initial question of “does this exist?” As in,

  • Is Taylor Swift on Twitter?
  • Are people talking about (insert topic here)?
  • Is (insert hashtag) a thing people are using?

If you’ve been alerted to a trend – perhaps even by Twitter’s “Trends for You” feature, or “Events” within Twitter’s analytics – you can search on those hashtags to see associated tweets.

If you’re most interested in a hashtag or user, you can search to see where multiple users and hashtags appear together in posts. But you can only search on one keyword/phrase at a time. And you can’t see which posts have one hashtag over another in such a search – you’ll only return results for those handles or hashtags appearing together.

For more, you can look to Twitter’s Advanced Search.

Swoop in for a Closer Look

Advanced Search lets you get a bit more information with additional search fields:

Instead of being limited to a single term at a time, you can search for multiple terms, hashtags, particular accounts, locations, and dates. Here’s a look at a search on the terms “graduation” and “commencement” as well as the hashtag “#graduation” near Hamden, CT (limited to English-language posts):

What’s revealed here are Top posts Latest posts, People talking about this topic, Photos and Videos being shared, News items, and Broadcasts (aka live videos). This is more detailed than basic search, but there’s a lot of information not available.

Still, you can tab through to get a better sense of your search overall – to see what trends merit further investigation.

Understand the Pecking Order

So, wait a minute – what’s missing? If Twitter is your channel of choice, and you can see trending topics there, what else do you need?

Sentiment insights for one. Twitter can tell you what’s trending with users overall – or based on what you care about as the account owner (those “Trends for You”). But that doesn’t tell you what your audience is most interested in.

For that, you need AI Analytics tools capable of analyzing social data and providing that hierarchical information.

What’s topping the graduation conversation? Inspiring commencement speeches, and job security. Good to know as you craft any graduation-related campaigns, right?

What matters here is accuracy – always – but also speed. Though some trends are long-lasting, some may be fairly short-lived. That doesn’t mean they aren’t worth leveraging, however. The last thing you want is to find out too late that the perfect topic for your brand was trending – and you missed it.

AI Analytics allow you to verify the overarching, demographic insights found on Twitter, and then get super specific about what’s behind them, and how you can put them to use. We’re talking down-to-the-post specific. And yes, you can view individual posts on Twitter too – but you have to find them first. And you still need that context of whether the driving force is love, hate, or something in between.

It’s not that AI Analytics tools are better per se – but there’s flexibility available in such tools that enhances the insight Twitter offers. So AI Analytics should surely be step two.

Twitter is a valuable part of your team as a means of reaching and engaging your audience, and it can also be a partner alongside more robust tools like AI Analytics. The results when you combine modalities are twice as effective – and who doesn’t want that?

Want a demo of how AI Analytics clarify sentiment data? Reach out and we’ll walk you through it!


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