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Leads Generation : How to Use Twitter Advanced Search to Find Leads for Your Business

If you have ever tried searching on Twitter, you probably agree there are challenges in getting the answers that we want. That’s not surprising since every second, 6000 new tweets are being made. Which translates to a whopping 500 million tweets everyday, and 200 billion tweets per year.

Imagine trying to search for your business leads out of 200 billion tweets. That’s overwhelming. Don’t you think so?

AND that number is growing.

So how are we going to make searching on Twitter more effective?

The answer lies in Twitter’s Advanced Search. It’s nothing new. But it seems to be under utilized by Twitter users. Maybe because it’s not exactly that obvious. To get there, you can refer to the instructions indicated on the following image.

If you prefer to jump straight to the advanced search, go here.

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There’s a number of search parameters for you to enter and options for you to choose. It’s nothing too complicated. And I’ll show you how to use the following search options to generate & find leads for your business.


  • All of these wordsuse twitter advanced search to find leads 28
  • This exact phrase
  • Any of these words
  • None of these words
  • These hashtags
  • Written in what language


  • From these accounts
  • To these accounts
  • Mentioning these accounts


  • Near this place


  • From this date


  • Positive, Negative, Question, Include Retweets

1. Buying Signals & Intentions

The best leads probably come from tweets that contain buying signals. This is usually identified by the keywords or phrases that the person uses. Image yourself as a potential customer, what do you usually ask when you are planning to purchase a product? In your mind, probably you have questions or concerns such as:

  • From which retailer can I get the best price for this product?
  • What are the recommendations?

For instance, if I am selling DSLR cameras, I’ll search for people who are looking for recommendations on what to buy. So the keywords to use are: DSLR camera and recommendations. Since I need the results to contain both of them, I have to use the search type All of these words.

And here’s the results I got – shown in the image below. As you can see these are ordinary consumers looking for recommendations on what to use or purchase for their purpose. If there are any open opportunities in your search results, simply follow up with an action. It can be a direct message, or a reply to their tweet.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: All of these words

2. Questions from Consumers

Questions is another wonderful source of leads. People ask question when they are not uncertain or clueless. And this is an excellent opportunity for you to show your expertise in the subject. If you are regularly advising and replying people on their questions, it’s a super-easy and powerful way to build your reputation and brand on Twitter.

On a personal level, the person may also remember you as the go-to-person when he has further questions, and this is a very good way to establish and build relationship. And in the future, if the person needs to purchase a new product, or accessories, he will remember you. Unless you are in the business of sell-and-forget, otherwise building relationship and branding is essential for a successful business.

Using the same example of DSLR camera, I did a search for keywords questions and DSLR camera.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: All of these words

Although the conversion to sales may not be as high compared to buying signals, it’s nevertheless worth the effort, for reasons mentioned above.

3. Search for existing customers using your products

The easiest sales sometimes come from customers who are already using your products. An existing customer can make purchases for accessories, or to do an upgrade on a product that no longer fit their requirements. Does that hold true for your business? If yes, then this is going to help you drive more sales.

However more often than not, using keywords alone doesn’t pick up these results that you are looking for. So I am going to show you how to search for these customers using hashtags. For this, you need to input typical hashtags that are associated to your topic or niche. I suggest you keep a list of hashtags that are relevant to you, so that you can use it for future references.

For cameras, the hashtags that are often used are #photography, #nikon and #olympus. So let’s take a look to see what are the search results that I get when I use #nikon and #photography. As you can see these are customers that are satisfied and happy with Nikon cameras. If I am selling cameras, I’ll definitely get in touch with them.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Using hashtags

4. Search for leads with specific requirements

But what if you want the words to appear in an exact sequence?

Sure you can do that too.

This is extremely effective when you are clear on what you want to search for. To gain useful results, you need to be specific. Depending on the phrase you use, it can sometimes return you zero results. So come out with a list of exact phrases that you want to search for, and try them out. And if you found an exact phrase that gives you meaningful results, take note of it.

The image below shows someone asking @airfrance whether can he take his camera tripod as a hand luggage. From what I see, that’s a pretty common question among people who are passionate about photography. Again, this is an opportunity for you to approach these people and share with them your thoughts. If you have an article that addresses this question, that is even better. Direct them to the URL, and may be you can even earn a sale or two if your product or services can resolve his dilemma.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Exact phrase

5. Pick out opportunities for a particular product or service

If you are running a marketing campaign or want to generate leads for a specific product, you can quickly cut down you search by using the model number or product name instead.

Using cameras as an example again, let’s say you want to increase the number of leads for entry level DSLR Nikon cameras. Since Nikon D3300 and D5500 are popular models, I’ll do a search with them. And one of the result that I obtained showed that a user is interested to purchase a 50mm 1.8G lens for his D5500. That’s a decent lead in my opinion.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Any of these words

6. Qualifying your leads

Using Twitter Advanced Search can remove most of the irrelevant tweets, but there isn’t enough we know. So we need to qualify our leads. And we can do this by excluding keywords.

For instance, if I am interested in leads relating to Canon DSLR cameras, then I’ll be excluding other brands (e.g Sony, Nikon, Olympus) so that I can focus on what matters most. Excluding of words are usually used concurrently with other search requirements.

To take it further, you may also want to take away tweets that are promotional in nature. These are the keywords that you may want to exclude: contest, win, chance, giveaway, ebay, amazon etc.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: None of these words

7. Generating leads from customer feedbacks

Ever wonder how your products or services are being perceived by customer? Or what are the key reasons that made your product a top seller?

Here’s why. Feedback from consumers is probably the best and honest review of how your products and services fare in the eyes of the consumers. These are valuable comments that you can use to your advantage. If a review is positive, you can build on it, and try to generate leads or referrals out of it.

If a review is negative, don’t drop it. Make good out of it too.

At the end of the day, it is all about showing appreciation and concerns for your customers.

Now for this to work, you need to be more specific. What are the type of feedback are you going to search for? Is it going to for a specific product? Is it about the functionality (i.e how-to)? Or is it about the features?

Yes, there’s a bunch of questions. But it’s important because it gives you clarity. Otherwise you are not going to heading anywhere on your searches.

So let’s say I am curious about why consumers love Nikon, and what are features that made them happy customers. To get the result I want, I’ll then search for keywords functionality or features, together with the hashtag #Nikon. As you see from the tweets below, it seems that Nikon users love features such as inbuilt timelapse and 4K UHD video.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Any of these words & hashtags

8. Educate consumers on how to use their cameras

Creating leads by educating consumers is nothing new. In fact, most of us are already doing it. We achieve this when we share content such as how-to guides on our blog. And probably you have share your content on Twitter too.

Now instead of just pushing our content out and cross our fingers, we take a proactive step and hunt for this group of consumers.

And in the process of sharing your thoughts and how-to with them, you never know where it can lead to. It can bring you sales, referrals, reputation, or more. In any case, these are quality leads that you should keep an eye on.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Exact phrase & hashtags

9. Be on the lookout for communities

Before social networks came into the scene, forums are probably the best place to find people with similar interest and get connected. Are you part of any forums or communities that is relevant in your industry? Probably yes.

So how do you tap on communities that are on Twitter and generate leads out of them?

There are two stages, or rather searches, that you need to perform in order to get there.

First, you need to search for accounts that have a huge fan-base. Probably anything more than 100k of followers is a good find. Since I am on cameras and photography, Fstoppers is one of the accounts that I need to include and tap on.

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Next I am going to find out who are the people having a conversation with @fstoppers. These are the active users that I interested in. To get to them, I simply use the keywords (e.g. Nikon) and narrow the search to only tweets that are directed to @fstoppers (Advanced Search > People > To these accounts).

Going through the tweets as shown in the image below, I can easily identify several leads that are worth getting on.

If you visit forums frequently and participate in discussion regularly, starting conversations with these people on Twitter are relatively easier since they probably have an impression on you.

You may be wondering what if you are not the kind who visits forum? Or a lurker in forum? Can this tactic be of use to you?

This are valid concerns but sure, why not. But it depends largely on how you approach these leads. Try to avoid approaches that are sales-oriented. Instead approach them with the mentality to start a conversation, and to build a relationship. It goes a long way since people in communities can give referrals to you when you win their trust.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Any of these words & to these accounts.

10. Using promotions and contests as source of leads

In this case, I am going to use promotions and contests, and make it a source of leads. It may seems contradictory to point #6 where I suggested removing certain words such as contest and win. But there’s no conflict, since it’s not unusual for us to perform different queries to get different results.

Is this search going to be complicated?

No, and I am going to show you how.

Basically we need to use keywords and hashtags when performing our query. The trick is to include retweets as part of your advanced search. This is important since we are interested in tweets that have high level of engagement. So don’t miss this out, otherwise a lot of trivial tweets are going to appear in your searches.

More engagement = more retweets &  likes.

And this translate to more leads that we can work on.

The following are the parameters that I am using. Do modify or append keywords/hashtags as necessary.

  • Keywords to use: contest, promotion, giveways
  • Hashtags to use: cameras, dslr, nikon, olympus, sony, photography

As per image below, I uncovered a photography contest that has a fair number of engagement (20 retweets & 42 likes). Assuming these are unique users, I can have a potential of 20+42= 62 leads. I am not sure about your standard. But to me, that’s a lot of leads on a single tweet.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Any of these words, hashtags & retweets included.

And if I look deeper, I can see who exactly are the Twitter users who retweet and liked. From here, I can approach them either via a Direct Messages (DM) or a tweet.

Sounds good? Give it a try.

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List of Twitter users that engaged with the content.

11. Search for upcoming events

Have you ever attended any events that’s related to your business?

Maybe yes, maybe no.

If you have attended events as an attendee or host, you will probably agree there are many benefits associated with it. Attending events is one of the best way to connect with people. Other than raising awareness for your brands, you can generate leads and sales on the spot.

Events typically gain lots of attention and publicity on social networks, including Twitter. So we shouldn’t leave this out as a source of leads, since searching for events on Twitter is a powerful way to double your leads easily. First, you can identify Twitter users who are interested in the event and strike a conversation with them on Twitter. And on the day of the event, you can seize the opportunity to gather more leads.

I did a quick search using the exact phrase “upcoming event” and hashtag #photography, and it seems FujiFilm recently held a photography contest in Sydney.

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Twitter Advanced Search | Result obtained by using search type: Exact phrase and hashtags.

And if you are a photography enthusiast, you may be familiar with the event’s official hashtags.


When I dig further using the hashtag #peoplewithcameras, I discovered there’s lots of tweets, engagements and conversations on the event. So yes, more leads uncovered.

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If your line of work requires you to meet people face-to-face and execute outdoor sales, don’t forget to include this as one of your regular searches. Even if you do not attend events, it’s nevertheless a source of leads for you to capture and connect online.

12. Spy on your competitors

Ah…this is sneaky. All is fair in love and war. But what about business?

Depends on your perspective I guess.

In order to benefit the most out of your searches, naturally you need to come up with a list of your competitors, then find out what are their Twitter usernames. It should take you not more than 10 mins. Then arrange the competitors in descending order, from big to small, to prioritize your searches.

Now, let’s get hands on. To find your competitors, use broad keywords (e.g. cameras) as part of your query. After that, filter your search, by going to the tab Accounts. Go through the list, and copy & paste their usernames to your notepad.

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Using your compositor’s username, you can then perform several searches such as:

  • Tweets from these accounts.
  • Tweets to these accounts.
  • Tweets that mentioned these accounts.

Using LumixUSA as a competitor, I conducted a search. And as you can see from the tweet below, TimmyTechTV commented the lens from Amazon was nice, but he didn’t like the price tag. So if I have the exact product, or a similar product that can achieve the same, and at a lower price, I am pretty sure that Timmy will want to give it a chance.

Other than obtaining leads from your Twitter search, you can also gain insights on how your competitors are performing, their marketing strategy, and how their products are performing. Convinced? Give it a try.

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Refine your Twitter searches

When it comes to searching on Twitter, it can get really exhausting when we need to go through hundreds or maybe even thousands of tweets.

So in order to save time and be more effective, we need to be clear on what we want to find. Then put up a specific search. And then further refine it, by adding more search filters. The following are parameters that you can add on to make your query perfect.
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13. Dates

There are occasions when dates are sensitive and plays a significant part in our searches. If you are a business owner or someone looking to makes sales out of leads, how do you qualify your leads?

There are a number of ways. And one of the basic criteria is that a lead must be either warm or hot. When a lead gets cold, the chances of converting it to sale drops drastically. So we got to make use of dates in our searches, to remove leads that are cold.

Also, if you are generating leads by attending events, it is important for you to indicate a date range in Twitter advanced options, so that you focus only on the latest and upcoming events.

14. Tweets only

If you are not interested in results that contain videos or news related, then choose tweets only to limit your search results. This useful for cutting though the clutter and enabling you to focus on what matters most.

15. Only people you know

Use this if you want to generate leads from your followers and fans. Makes sense if your fan-base is large, and if you prefer to focus on audience that you have a relationship with.

16. Located near you

Using location as part of your search can be useful when you have a physical store, and when you want to attract customers that are near you.

It sounds logical right?

Imagine you are the customer, and today you want to buy a camera from a store. What are your options? Probably it’s either you go to the place that you get cheapest, or at a place nearest to you.

So if you have a good deal for these customers, reach out to them. Because in terms of location, you have an advantage over your competitors.

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Other instances where you can include location(s) are

  • When you offer location based services.
  • To align with your marketing campaign.
  • To systematically cover locations as part of your marketing strategy.
  • When you want to search for events or trade shows that to attend, and hunt for leads and customers.

17. Language

If your product caters to people speaking a particular language, then you got to include this as part of your search parameters, so that you can reach out to them effectively.

For example, if there is a limited and special edition camera that is designed for France, then I am going to search for people who speak/tweet in french. These are consumers and leads that are highly qualified in my opinion.

With 62 different languages for you to choose from, you probably can find yours inside the list.

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18. Positive or Negative

An interesting query that we can achieve using Twitter Advanced Search, is finding tweets that are more expressive. Specifically tweets that are either positive :) or negative :(

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However, this is not exactly 100% accurate, since the sentiment of the tweet is dependent on the context. This is best illustrated with the two tweets shown below (obtained via a negative :( search).

On this tweet, Fairy Tears commented that Nikon lenses are much cheaper then Canon. If I am marketing Nikon products, that to me, should be a positive sentiment. And I’ll be happy to start a conversation with her or give advise on Nikon cameras that she is evaluating.

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On the other hand, E-rizzle commented that Nikon lenses are expensive. So I may want to dig further and find out from her why she said that. As you can see, although using the same sentiment to do the search, it can meant different things from my perspective.

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19. Include Question Marks

Questions can be excellent conversation starters. It can also be source of leads waiting to be uncovered. People ask questions for different reasons. And people ask questions always. Some turn to search engines for answers to their questions, others turn to forums, or social networks, and the list goes.

So what are your criteria when you want to conduct your search on Twitter? Yes, that’s a question you need to answer :)

If you want people who are looking for suggestions on what to purchase, then you got to search using keywords such as suggestions or opinions, together with your product/service name, AND only those with question marks.

If you prefer to be more broad in your search, you can do something like what I did. Simply, search using a brand name (e.g. Nikon) and include question marks.

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Above tweet shows @EulaChua looking for a lens cleaning solution, and that makes it easy to follow up with him since he has a specific requirement.

This is an awesome search to use regularly to get fresh leads.

20. Include Retweets

Last but not least, don’t forget to include Retweets during your advanced searches, so that your search is more comprehensive.

But what if you only want to see retweets that are more popular?

Can you do that?

The answer is yes!

To find out which are the popular ones, you can simply indicate the minimum amount of retweets that you are searching for. Since this is a search option that is not available for you to choose from Twitter Advanced Search, you got to type it inside the search field.

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To do that, just append min_retweets:20 to your current query. For example, if I want to search for tweets containing the keyword Nikon with at least 20 retweets, I’ll enter my query as “nikon min_retweets:20”

Final Thoughts

These are not the only ways to search for leads on Twitter. You can vary your search according to your requirements, and find out what works best for you.

It’s time to start your search. Happy hunting & good luck!



Lincoln is a fan of Apple products, loves red wine and traveling. He blogs on internet marketing, social media, wordpress tips & guides, and using technology to maximize efficiency. Follow him on Twitter or Facebook for regular updates.

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