Finding Researchers on Twitter: Searching By Tweet (Content)

I’ve covered finding researchers by their Twitter Profile, Finding Researchers on Twitter: By Profile, so it’s time to look at finding tweets (and therefore people tweeting) by the content they share (tweet) and how to set up alerts for tweets.

With the character limit on Twitter Bios, it’s likely that you will also find profiles to follow based on the content they share. Factoring in the content shared by profiles, in terms of type and frequency, gives you an idea of the quality of the profile you’re reviewing:

  • Are they only retweeting others?
  • Are they retweeting links to other peoples content only?
  • Do they have interactions and discussions with other tweeters (more likely to be a ‘real’ person)?
  • How often do they tweet?
  • Is the content they tweet, in terms of their stream of tweets, completely relevant?

Plus it can be handy to set up notifications things as they arise, rather than having to manually search for them each time.

Saved Searches

Where you plan to be a little more ad hoc in your searches for content (when you have the time and inclination). So you want to set up and save a search, then be able to check on the results periodically (as opposed to receiving a weekly/daily email alert).

Saving the search means you don’t have to remember all the operators you put in to filter your results and reduce the garbage in on it. Plus the results are real-time and waiting to be retrieved whenever you have the inclination.

Twitter Saved Search

You can save up to 25 searches on your Twitter Profile, if you plan to periodically check in on search results for specific terms then it’s worth making use of Twitter’s Advanced Search Operators, tp weed out as much irrelevant terms you can from search results and then save the search.

Use Twitter’s Advanced Search form to set up your searches and then select save:

Twitter-Researchers-Twitter-Search-Save Search

Screen shot: Twitter search about to be saved (Taken 22 March 2015)

You’ll see the saved searches if you hover your mouse over the empty search box:


Screen shot: Saved Searches on Twitter (Taken 22 March 2015)

Make sure you don’t just refer to the “Top” results:


Screen shot: Twitter Search Results – Top Results (Taken 22 March 2015)

If you select All, you will see everyone’s tweets:


Screen Shot: Twitter Search Results – All (Taken 22 March 2015)

Hootsuite Saved Stream

If you use Hootsuite for scheduling tweets and administrating your twitter channel, you can add a stream to search keywords. Limitations are: only 3 keywords (they can be phrases) and you do have a limit to the amount of streams you can add for any given channel. There is a free basic plan available


Screen shot: Saved Keyword Search Stream for Twitter Channel (Taken 22 March 2015)

Search Alerts

If you want to be more systematic and/or you want to be alerted on a daily, weekly or as it happens basis that content is being tweeted, then you will want to set up an alert. This removes the requirement to manually check your saved searches and reduces the risk that you miss good content that was posted between your checking points.

Unfortunately there have been several changes to Twitter’s API that have meant many alert services don’t work anymore. The best I have found is Twilert, but that is now a paid only service, it has been impacted by some recent changes by Twitter (mainly to do with locations) so I am reviewing other options.

Google Alerts

You could set up a google alert, which has the power of all Google’s search operators, to search Twitter making sure to only retrieve URLs that have “status” in them: since those will be tweets.

So if I wanted to see status updates that used the terms “security fix” or “valid fix”, then I would set up a google alert for the following term: “security fix” OR “valid fix” +inurl:status


Screen shot: Google Alerts set up screen (Taken 22 March 2015)

I can choose that alert to be a summary sent to me daily or weekly, or as it happens. I can also refine the types of sites in alerts (not much use given I am limiting this alert to a specific site).

There are limitations so it’s possible the results won’t retrieve all tweets. But it’s better than nothing and this situation may change, given in February this year (2015) Google and Twitter signed an agreement about Twitter and Google Search Results

I can also choose to receive only the best results (according to Google’s algorithms) or all results. And I can limit to tweets from a particular location or language.

Tweet Alarm

I’ve set a Tweet Alarm to see how it compares to Twilert for a basic alert. It’s pretty basic in that you will get one alert for the terms you enter (it can be useful to have similar terms in one alert, but this won’t be meaningful or easy to use if you have multiple categories).


IFTTT Recipes: Emails or Email Digests

I’ve been playing with IFTTT (If This Then That) to set up emails and email digests of tweets. Not having any joy activating them or seeing results, but will keep you posted. IFTTT uses Twitters search operators, so if I can get IFTTT to work it could be the closest approximation to Twilert’s paid service while also being more customisable than a Google Alert.


Screen shot: IFTTT recipes (Taken 22 March 2015)

Photograph used in header:
© Phil Date | Dreamstime Stock Photos


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