Tweetdeck is a fantastic tool for monitoring Twitter, and advanced search columns are a really effective way to track breaking news or real-time information around a particular topic or beat.

This three-minute screencast explains how to set up advanced searches in Tweetdeck to track tweets by location, by sentiment or by the type of multimedia they contain.

But if you don't have time to watch the screencast, you can simply follow the steps below.

1. Add a new search column to your Tweetdeck by clicking the 'plus' sign in the left-hand navigation bar.

2. You can do a simple search using a combination of hashtags and keywords. For example, I searched for news around the recent EU and local elections using the' #EP2014 OR elections' – which will bring up tweets containing either the hashtag or the word 'elections' – or both. It's important here that the 'or' is written in caps, otherwise Tweetdeck won't recognise it as part of your search operator.

3. To search for tweets that pose a question, simply include a question mark. So '#EP2014 OR elections AND ?' will search for either the hashtag or the word 'elections' together with a question. Incidentally, answering questions on Twitter is a good way to build your following and engage with other users.

Similarly, you can include tweets with a positive or negative attitude by searching for a 'smile' or a 'frown'. So '#EP2014 OR elections AND :)'

4. If you want to search for tweets within a specific location, for example Birmingham, you can use the search operator 'Birmingham OR (near:"Birmingham, England" within:25mi)'.

So to search for election tweets posted near Birmingham, search for '(#EP2014 OR elections) AND Birmingham OR (near:"Birmingham, England" within:25mi)'. This will search for either the hashtag and keyword 'elections', plus the word Birmingham or any tweets that are geotagged as being within 25 miles of Birmingham.

As there is also a Birmingham in the US, I've specified that I only want results from England by including the search operator 'near:"Birmingham, England"'. The brackets specify that these either one of these keywords must be included in the search results.

If I just wanted to search for news near Birmingham, I could just remove the first part of the search, so 'Birmingham OR (near:"Birmingham, England" within:25mi)'.

5. For even more specific results, Tweetdeck also has a number of in-built filters that are useful. In the content tab at the top of your search column you can choose to show only tweets that include images, videos or links, and you can also exclude certain keywords, hashtags or users.

You can also search for tweets by language, and exclude retweets to only show original tweets. If you have a lot of search results, this is a good way to narrow them down.

6. You can narrow results further in the 'user' tab by searching for instances when your keywords have been tweeted by a particular user, and whether they also mention another user – which is a good way to monitor conversations between, say, two MPs. This box also allows you to show only content from verified users or members of a list.

7. You can also drill down to tweets with higher levels of engagement, which may give you an indication of how important they are, by specifying that you only want to see posts with a certain amount of retweets, favourites or replies. for example, for tracking breaking news you might want to search for tweets that have been retweeted 30 times or more.

8. Add the column to your Tweetdeck by clicking the blue 'add column' button.

9. You can also set Tweetdeck to notify you when the column is updated using the 'alerts' tab at the top of the column, which is particularly useful for monitoring breaking news.

10. Drag and drop the icons in the left-hand navigation bar to reorder your Tweetdeck columns, or use the arrows in the drop-down at the top of each column. In Tweetdeck, you can also use the number keys shortcut to jump to a particular column – so hitting '5' will take you directly to the fifth column.

  • We also have spaces on our social media strategies training course, run by former BBC trainer Sue Llewellyn, on 12 June. See more information here.

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