Someone pinged me today asking about how to find an old hashtag conversation on Twitter. Awhile back I would have had to say they were out of luck. But thanks to a deal with Google that was penned earlier this year, older tweets can be found. I found it wasn’t really all that intuitive to use the new Updates Search feature but it does provide hope for the data miner and procrastinator alike.
According to Google, they have Tweets back to February 11, 2010, and this simple search for my Twitter name shows that this is about right. Here is a quick “How to” for finding an old conversation.
How to Use Google Update Search
- Go to Google Search
- Search for your unique term or hastag, let’s us the #PRStudChat as an example
- Once you get the results, go to the MORE dropdown arrow on the left and chose UPDATES (see screenshot below)
- After you hit UPDATE, a chart for the current day’s tweets will show. Notice the hyperlinks for the Year and Month . Clicking on any one of these will take you to that view.
- You can go back and forth through the timeline using the Guillemets <>
How to Find the Google Update Search Feature (#3)
Navigating the Google Updates Search Feature (#4. #5)
If you are looking for a way to get a complete picture of what was said about a particular topic over a period of a few days, it will be a labor intensive endeavor. And traversing through the timeline is not seamless – it is easy to find yourself lost.
And let that be a lesson to you. If you are running a campaign with hashtags, be sure to get your search data in on the spot, or at lease with in seven days. I like What the Hashtag. It is is a great tool to look at recent conversations.
You can usually look up hashtag-led conversation that are up to seven days old there. And I recommend if you are running such a campaign or conversation on Twitter that you add the hashtag to the What the Hashtag database and click on the “View Transcript” (see blow) to get a handy transcript of the session in chronological order. I usually save this screen as a PDF and fire add it to the documentation for any given campaign.
However, even this service can fall victim to Twitter’s endless API shutdowns and sometimes misses some stuff and it is only available for seven days – again Twitter API limitations. Don’t use it for a contest, for that I would use Real Time Contest. It is currently in closed Beta, but you can hit up Chris Kieff for when he plans to go public.