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September 9, 2013 / carlispina

Using Topsy To Search Twitter

Last week Topsy made quite a splash when it revealed that it now offers the ability to search every tweet that has ever been tweeted. I’ve mentioned Topsy in the past as a tool to search Google+, but this new ability to search Twitter, has the potential to completely change how the application is used. Currently, Topsy offers several different tools, but the most noteworthy for most users is its free tool that allows you to search all of Twitter’s history, a feature that not even Twitter itself offers for users.

Having tried the search feature, I have found that it works as promised, particularly for simple searches for keywords or tweets from specific Twitter users. Topsy offers both a simple search box, from which you can specify that you want to retrieve tweets, links, photos, videos, influencers (as defined by Topsy) or all content. There is also an advanced search feature that gives you the option to search multiple words, search only for tweets that don’t contain specific words, search by user, or search within a specific site or domain. Once you have run a search, results for the last sixteen days sorted by relevance will be displayed as the default. From there, you can instead resort results by newest or oldest if you would prefer. Even more importantly, you can expand or limit your results using a variety of facets displayed to the left of the screen, including language, content type, and date. The ability to limit your results by any of several pre-set date ranges, including both “all time” and a specific date range of your own choosing, is probably the most useful of the available facets, but I also found the content type options useful, particularly when looking for a specific tweet I had seen before, such as a video that someone had shared. As a way of advertising their other services, Topsy does include social analytics data on the results screen, but this is minimally distracting for users and given that some of this analytics data is available for free, users might even find it useful in deciding whether to subscribe to the pro version of the tool.

Topsy clearly offers much more robust search options than Twitter itself does. The basic search functionality is self-explanatory and the facets cover many of the key categories that most users will want to use to limit their results. After running several searches with Topsy, I believe that this tool will provide a service that many Twitter users have long desired. It offers more options than the search features that Twitter itself offers and given Topsy’s extensive access to Twitter’s data, it is unlikely that other services will surpass its abilities in the near future. Whether you are interested in seeing how a topic has been discussed on Twitter over time or trying to find a specific tweet that you seem to remember seeing, Topsy is a good option.


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