Using Twitter without an account

By now, you have probably realized that Twitter is likely not a fad that is going to simple fade away.  Their latest numbers report 255 million active users, who are sending 500 million tweets per day.  Although the numbers are high, it does not mean that it’s all necessarily good information.  There’s definitely a lot of meaningless chatter and purely promotional tweets that are going out on this channel rather than conversations.  And depending on your business, your goals, and your time, it may not even be the right channel for you.  But did you know it was possible to use Twitter without an account?  This article will show you how.

First, head over to the Twitter search home page at  From here, you can search for a hashtag without needing to log-in.  A hashtag is essentially a keyword with a “#” (pound sign) that indicates what the conversation is about.  It could be topical or geographical.  To search by location, you could enter your city with the pound sign, or try the airport code.  For example, I live in Charleston, SC and our hashtag is #chs which is also our airport code.  I tried a search on #lax this morning, which is the airport code for Los Angeles, and received a number of results.  The reason you may want to start here is it gives you an idea of what’s happening locally.  
twitter search

If you represent a large well known brand, do your next search on your company name both with the “#” and without it.  Are people saying positive things or negative things about your brand?  If you are part of a large company, chances are you have a social media team with at least one person managing the Twitter account.  If that’s the case, you may never need or want to set up an account for yourself.  However, you can still do a search once in a while to learn how your company is viewed by Twitter users.  This is valuable information to know regardless of your job title.

Now that you have the basic search down, where you enter some keywords and hashtags, you can starting adding some search operators, similar to what you could use on a search.  Maybe you’re overwhelmed with the number of results because of the similar names.  Let’s say, you’re the owner of Mike’s Cafe in a single city.  In your search, you see dozens of results for Mike’s Cafe all through the country.  It’s not a chain, there just happens to be other people that use that name for their business.   There are two considerations here.

First, conduct your search with the quotes (“Mike’s Cafe”) to ensure your results are about Mike’s Cafe, and to rule out search results such as “Did you see Mike at the Cafe?”  The quotes tell Twitter (and Google!)  that your are looking for the words in that order.  The second consideration is for your location.   Your Mike’s Cafe happens to be in San Francisco so you can do a search like this:  “Mike’s Cafe” near:”san francisco”.  What this does is search for tweets sent near San Francisco so they are more likely to be about your particular restaurant, rather than one located across the country.

Twitter can also be a pretty cool research tool.  Yes, you can do research on – or at your library – but one thing you hopefully know about Twitter, is that it’s real-time information so your research results are likely to be current.   What if you want to learn about marketing?  You can do a search with marketing filter:links, which means you are filtering your search to only show marketing results that include links.   I did that search just now and the first result was for a marketing job, which isn’t what I’m seeking in this example.  I’m looking for some guidance on how to do marketing.  I could try adding a keyword of “tips” or “how-tos”, but don’t know for sure how people are referencing their resources.  I could obviously use “resources” as a keyword.

For now though, I’m going to use a negative keyword to exclude the results I don’t want, which are tweets about jobs.  So I’ve changed my search to marketing -jobs filter:links, with the minus sign indicating I don’t want results that include the word “jobs”.  When I look back at the search results, I can see tweets that are more likely to include useful resources.  There are a few that are about webinars which wasn’t a word I had in mind when I began the search

It may sound time consuming as I’m explaining it since  I’m walking you through it step-by-step.  However, each search only takes a couple seconds and it gets easier to filter out the junk as you become familiar with the types of things people post on Twitter.  At some point, you may see the advantage of setting up an account and participating in the Twitter community.  This technique of using Twitter without an account lets you at least see what it’s about before you make that decision.  Happy Searching!

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