(Editors note: With the sad demise to Topsy on the 15th of December, we thought it a pretty good time to update our list of alternative tools for searching Twitter. The original was written back in April 2010 by Tad Chef, and sadly, it’s not just Topsy from our original list of 30 alternatives that has since disappeared or stopped being updated).
Back in 2010, Twitter added a mechanic to it’s then creaky search mechanism that added the most popular tweets as well as the latest, but it’s fair to say it didn’t impress. So, we collated 30 of our favourite Twitter search tools as a handy reference.
Now, Twitter has vastly improved it’s internal search tool in the proceeding five years, and also offers some basic analysis tools such as Twitter Analytics (https://analytics.twitter.com). However, most digital marketers still make great use of third-party tools to make the most of searching Twitter.
I personally have been recommending Topsy for several years to clients, colleagues and peers. Topsy’s ability to search conversations back to 2006 and it’s speed made it the most complete option. It’s excellent layout, strong search functionality, granular filtering options and of course the excellent Topsy Analytics to compare different topics all made it my tool of choice.
So much so in fact I even recommended it in my webinar for Kerboo, pretty much only a few hours before it was shut down by Apple. So, as well as looking for a more powerful Twitter search alternative, we now need alternatives to Topsy…
So whether you’re doing keyword research, PR or outreach research, looking for articles to aid your learning or any other type of Twitter search, here are some alternatives for you.
Twitter search alternatives:
Twitter Advanced Search – Huh? Didn’t I say alternatives to Twitter’s search? Well, actually Twitter’s search has got pretty damn good in the past year, mainly thanks to them now indexing every public tweet since the platform started in 2006. However, it is still just a stream of information. Want to be more of a power user? The easiest alternative is actually Twitter’s very own Advanced Search. This lets you search by words, hashtag, language, tweets from certain accounts, to certain accounts, mentioning certain accounts, by date and even sentiment. All pretty damn powerful & from the horses mouth. We’ve started using this as a great way to start finding keyword ideas and outreach targets.
Social Mention – A real time search platform, Social Mention lets you search Twitter and other channels such as blogs into one user-generated content stream. It has a plethora of information, sick as strength, sentiment and reach of the tweets you find, which can be great for research into how popular a brand is, how many power-tweeters are mentioning a topic or basic understanding if people are happy or mad about a topic. It also offers top keywords and you can export sentiment, users, hashtags used and the top keywords as CSV files
Social Bearing – A really simple to use, but powerful real-time search tool for Twitter, Social Bearing is restricted to then past 7 days if you do a search by keyword, but can still get good results. The data you get back has filters for tweet types (such as retweets & replies), sentiment and language and aldo shows most common and influential tweeters on the keyword or hashtag you searched for. It also has options to do user, follower & people searches. Results are shown in a big grid of the latest tweets to give you an instant flavour of the conversation. Possibly one of the best Topsy replacements in our limited play so far
All My Tweets – Ever lost one of your own tweets, or got too many to look through manually? Use this nifty search tool to grab all your own tweets onto one page in text format so you can use the browser search function to find what you are after (also good for realising how much time you waste spend on Twitter
Tweet Volume – Bit of a niche one, this tools records the number of tweets about different health related topics, such as my headache or my dentist. If of interest, you can search by work, phrase or hashtag
Hashtag.org – This tool does what you might expect, let you search for a hashtag. Once you do, you get a handy trend chart of estimated tweets per hour, a list of prolific users and some of the latest tweets using the hashtag
Twazzup – Simple but effective tool for real time monitoring. Search brand names, keywords or hashtags, and mine for info on strongest influencers tweeting on your search topic, the most powerful tweets & an active timeline
Backtweets – Simple tool that has similar idea to Topsy but with less detail. Good for finding theirarchived data on either a URL, domain, username, hashtag or topic
TalkWalker – A name known in SEO circles for their alert service, TalkWalker have expanded recently to also offer some pretty excellent analytics in their social media monitoring tool. Their free option (just sign up for an account) is lightweight version of their main product, described as a bit like a Google search for social mentions. A search on here gives you a sample of their full data, but has excellent filters for blogs, forums & other social media channels as well as Twitter. Interestingly, TalkWalker are an official Twitter partner, so their data (from the last two years) should be comprehensive
Keyhole – If you want to search for the influence or popularity of a hashtag, keyword or URL, Keyhole is a nice solution that fills in some of the gap Topsy has left behind. Keyhole’s simple interface is slick and fast, and offers some clear and interesting insight into your search term, such as the potential reach, top influencers, and top posts by retweets/likes, Klout score or how recent they are. Full data is paid for, but a quick insight can be gained for free. You can check out a sample of the pretty comprehensive data you get here; http://keyhole.co/realtime/BXrv5B/audi
Twitter user search:
Doesfollow – Very simple tool that lets you put in any Twitter username and see if it follows a second username of your choice. Can use it to check if someone follows you, or a competitor to influencer
Friend or Follow – Good for Instagram and Tumblr as well as Twitter, Fried or follow lets you sort and filter your followers, plus find out who not following you, including tracking unfollowers
Filta – Want to search the people you follow? Filta’s the tool for you. Bio search your followers for any keyword. This nifty tool is especially useful if you have a large following and want to find content to appeal to your audience. Or want to find someone in a new city to ask for restaurant advice
Twitter analytics with search functionality:
EpicBeat – Rapidly becoming a highly recommended tool, EpicBeat by Epictions helps you find popular content and authors across all social channels. You can use it to find the formats and types of content that resonate with an audience (engagement as well as shares, which are not always the same thing…) and search for social influencers you want talking about your brand or website. It essentially take some of the analysis of Topsy & combines it with the data of Buzzsumo – and yes, that is a very powerful combination. The search functionality works for topics or hashtags rather than pure search, but does offer stats of shares, comments & Applause, which is EpicBeat’s metric for positive engagement, as well as the most popular posts, insight into personas, sentiment, text analysis and popular days to publish plus some great filters
Followerwonk – Part of the Moz suite of tools, Followerwonk isn’t strictly a search tool, but is a fantastic source of Twitter analytics data. You can find your followers, where they are located, when they actively tweet and so on. You can also compare your users with someone else. More importantly for many marketers though, is you can throw in a competitor or influencer into the Analyse section of Followerwonk to slice up their tweets, their followers or who they follow to start finding much more about them. The search you can do is by bio – so instead of searching for tweets, you can search for users. A really useful tool overall with some search functionality that works well
Zoomph – A paid tool, but with a free level that allows basic social searching, Zoomph can be a full social media insight platform, complete with auto social posting capability, geo targeting, listening & analysis tools, and even the ability to build social microsites which look rather exciting especially for large or brands with natural engagement angles (such as sports teams)
Trendsmap – Take a look for local Twitter trends. You have to register to be able to take a look at the data, but a free version is available. I took a look this morning, and unsurprisingly Christmas Jumper Day and Star Wars: The Force awakens are dominating things…
Hubspot – Obviously the inbound marketing behemoth does a lot more than Twitter search, but having purchased OneForty from our previous list, pointing out HubSpot’s social media chops is rightly deserved
TweetReach – A paid tool, TweetReach lets you dig into your tweets to find how much earned conversation you generated with your efforts. It offers a variety of useful metrics for your keyword or hashtag. The free version only gives you the top 50 results, but that can be enough to search for the top influencers on a topic, making it useful for snapshot research. You can compare to competitor tweets, find new accounts to follow, identify spikes in activity to measure when is effective to tweet and more. From a search perspective, TweetReach helps you find new hashtags, content and users
Tame – Another paid tool, but one we hear good things about, Tame lets you identify influencers, track campaigns, and importantly for searching on Twitter, find relevant hashtags for topics you want to talk about
Mention – Whilst not having direct search functionality, many marketers will like the ability of Mention to help monitor conversations of your brand or specific, either via email notification or within Mention’s dashboard (where you can also reply directly). This lets you proactively join in Twitter conversations either from an engagement or customer service perspective, complete with filters, related topics and more
Buzzsumo – One of SEO’s most quoted and recommended tools, Buzzsumo doesn’t have a Twitter search function, but thanks to its integration with GNIP (owned by Twitter), you can use it to search for sharing metrics that could help replace Topsy. For example, it’s one of the places where you can get decent share counts, but more importantly here, it shows who are the influencers within a topic, something that is more helpful in Twitter analysis. This article by Buzzsumo shows what (they feel) you can do with it if you used to rely on Topsy
Visiting topsy.com now redirects you to an Apple support page on new search functionality within iOS9. This suggest Apple’s reported $225 million purchase of Topsy in 2013 was all about it’s search architecture rather than interest in it as a service.
But, as you can from the list above, there are plenty of other ways to search Twitter for the data you need. Indeed, this seems to be one of the most competitive sectors within digital marketing, and there are bound to be more casualties and additions in the coming months and years.
What are your go-to methods or tools or searching Twitter? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter and we’ll add them to the list!
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Head of Marketing
Search veteran and content enthusiast, Charlie is head of marketing at White.net. A regular writer & speaker on SEO, Charlie specialises in content development, technical SEO & keyword research. He also runs the Optimise Oxford meetup