A Guide to Searching Twitter and Tracking Trends

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A Guide to Searching Twitter and Tracking Trends

Twitter has grown beyond just a microblogging tool
(Image of Twitter).

All About Twitter

Twitter started out as a microblogging site with the idea that people would update their status throughout the day to tell their friends and the world exactly what they were doing at that moment. But it's grown well beyond those roots and turned into something of a national pastime.

With its popularity has come a variety of different uses for the service. Along with serving as a microblog, it is also a social messaging tool, a marketing tool, a replacement for RSS feeds, a weapon in politics, and a way to keep track of the current buzz.

Searching Twitter serves as an excellent way to track trends and keep tabs on the latest buzz. Whether it's the news, the opinions of politicians or celebrities, the latest version of the iPhone's operating system, news about the latest Windows service pack or just buzz on your favorite sports team, Twitter can keep you up-to-date with what the world at large thinks.

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How to Search Twitter

Twitter Search is a great way to track hot trends
(Image of Twitter).

Search Twitter

The easiest and most direct way to search Twitter is through the Twitter Search page located at http://search.twitter.com. Not everyone is aware of it, but Twitter has long had a special page set up just for tracking tweets.

As you can see, it looks a lot like Google's home page. If all you want to do is create a simple search, you can just type in your term and hit the search button. 

Twitter also added a search capability from your Twitter profile, but it doesn't have a link to the advanced search capabilities.

The main search page also contains trending topics. This can be a great addition if something very popular is generating a lot of buzz at that moment. For example, if President Obama is giving a speech on television, it's going to show up as a popular trend, so you can easily track it.

Unfortunately, Twitter has also opened itself up to a lot of people spamming topics in hopes of making the popular trends list. So you can also get a lot of 'false' trends in the list.

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How to Search Twitter From Advanced Search

Twitter's sidebar search is a handy feature
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How to Use Advanced Search

If you want to get a little bit more complex, hit the "Advanced Search" button.

The advanced search is really just a helpful tool to organize a normal search. For example, searching for an exact phrase is done by putting quotation marks around the exact phrase. The advanced search screen just formats this for you.

Advanced search is perfect if you want to search for an exact phrase or make sure the search results skip anything with a certain word. For example, if you want to get the latest news on the Dallas Cowboys, you can put that exact phrase in the box labeled "All of these words". However, if you want to get news about Dallas but nothing to do with the Cowboys, Stars or Mavericks, you could put "Dallas" as your search term and in the textbox for "None of these words" you can list out those team names.

If you want to bring back any tweets that mention either of two words rather than both of them, you can just put "OR" between them. So, your search box might look like: Dallas OR Cowboys

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Track Twitter Trends Using "What the Trend"

What the Trend helps track Twitter trends
(Image of What the Trend).

What the Trend

So if you want to keep up with the latest buzz, how do you tell the difference?

What the Trend is a great website that tracks the latest trends and attempts to tell you why it is currently a hot trend. The website can't always pinpoint the reason, but more often than not, it can tell you why something is generating buzz.

The best part is you don't have to do anything special. The What the Trend website will list out all of the current trending topics automatically. If you find something you want to follow, just click on the link and it will show you both the latest tweets and the latest news about the subject.

What the Trend is a pretty cool way to follow what is buzzing at this exact moment.