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Boolean search for social media monitoring: What to track, how to track, and why

If you have any experience with social media monitoring
platforms, you know that getting precise results may be tricky at
times: Apps can show a lot of noise for brands with common names
or, quite the contrary, miss some valuable data behind due to the
restrictive filters.

That’s when
Boolean search fits in perfectly.

Boolean search definition

In a broad sense, a Boolean search is a type of search that
combines terms with operators. It’s used in social listening
tools, search engines, and other apps. It lets you find precisely
what you’re searching for, and exclude what you’re not. I have
to mention that not all social listening tools provide Boolean
capabilities, but some platforms such as Awario, SproutSocial,
or Google Alerts do let you test it before starting your

Dealing with those Boolean queries may look intimidating at
first if you aren’t familiar with programming. But the good news
is that first of all, not everyone needs Boolean: If you’re
monitoring unique keywords, you’ll be alright with a regular
search mode. And secondly, mastering the basics of creating Boolean
queries doesn’t require any technical background at all.

Boolean terms explained

Before creating your first query, you should get comfortable
with major Boolean operators, such as “AND”, “OR”, “AND
NOT” (which is sometimes used as “NOT” or just “-”).


This one narrows your search to find results of both keywords or
groups of keywords within one post, so the query like “Prince
William” AND “Duchess Kate” will show us results where both
names are mentioned:

example of using the AND boolean to find keywords or groups of keywords


OR broadens the search to find results where any term is
mentioned. This can be good for misspellings, typos, and
alternatives of the same term. For example “Catherine, Duchess
of Cambridge” OR “Duchess Kate” will show mentions with any
version of her name:

example of using OR boolean to search misspellings, typos, and alternatives of the same term


AND NOT lets you exclude terms you don’t want to appear in
your search results. If you don’t want to get mentions about
Prince William’s 37th birthday, (“Prince William” AND NOT
birthday) will help you get relevant mentions:

The list of Boolean operators and their logic varies on
different tools: some of them, such as Google Alerts, has a pretty
basic set (which is enough in most cases though) which includes
“OR”, “-”, “site”, quotation marks, and an asterisk.
Others, like Brandwatch, offer advanced operators, such as
“NEAR/n”, “raw”, “country”, and more.

Where and how to use Boolean?

Boolean search is applicable in multiple scenarios, but I’d
love to focus more on the cases where this mode is indispensable.
So below you can find the cases when a few lines of code can save
you tons of time on cutting through the noise.

Save time on inputting all brand name alternatives

This is a time-saving tactic that lets you create a query using
just a few lines of code instead of entering all possible brand
name alternatives. Works best for three-word names or more.

Let’s say there’s a brand that’s called C.S. Johnson &
Sons. This brand name can be spelled in a number of ways:

using Boolean to create a query using just a few lines of code

But if you have access to Boolean search, you can create the
following query:

example of creating a Boolean search query

Gain control over acronyms or brands with common names

As in the previous case, you can apply the power of grouping
words for searching brands with common or ambiguous names. And
there are two ways of treating those cases.

First of all, you can exclude irrelevant results by adding a
group of
negative keywords, which are terms you don’t want to be used
in your results:

example of gaining control over acronyms and brand names by adding a group of negative keywords

Secondly, you can add some terms to be used with the brand name
to ensure you find results that matter to your business.

example of adding common terms to brand names for boolean search

On the screenshot above, at the top, you can find a social media
handle and a website that will bring relevant results per se.
They’re followed by the brand name that can be used in multiple
cases, but we narrow it down to the relevant case only.

And finally, sometimes it makes perfect sense to use both
“AND” and “AND NOT” operators:

example of using AND” and “AND NOT” operators for boolean search

This query shows only relevant results since the whole query is
supported by negative terms.

Find linkless pages for link-building purposes

Boolean search lets you easily create queries that contain only
mentions of a particular brand or industry and don’t have links
to this brand. It works best for news articles and other
web pages, so note that you’ll need a tool that monitors
those sources as well:

This query will deliver all webpages that mention JIRA on the
web and don’t have links to their website. So our job here is to
reach out to website owners to turn those pages into backlinks.

Monitor mentions from specific regions

This technique is useful for international companies. You can
set up an alert that will deliver relevant mentions to a person in
charge of the company unit from a particular geographical area.

You can use the country operator to limit the search to a
specific location that’s provided by social networks. And in
addition to that, you can create another group of keywords that
will provide search results for your keywords with location names.
This way, the tool will cover mentions where people use the names
of relevant locations in the text of a post.

The example above searches for mentions posted in the US as well
as all the mentions where location keywords are used within a

Uncover dissatisfied customers

This one is great for crisis managers in a company. Boolean
search lets you create queries that search for posts containing
problematic terms.

To use this, you’ll need the proximity operator near/n that
will let you specify the maximum distance between the name of a
company and a word or phrase typically used to complain about
something online:

Generate new leads

The other case where Boolean search comes in handy is lead
generation. To set up a search, you’ll need to come up with a few
phrases that people typically use to ask about services online,
such as “I’m looking for”, “I need”, “recommend me”,
and similar search queries.

By using the near/n proximity operator, you can define the
distance of those phrases from your target keywords:

This query will monitor social platforms for all new posts where
people search for web designers. All you need to do is interact
with those posts internally from the tool (if it has the capability
to do so) or externally from a
social media platform.

Check texts for plagiarism

And the last one I’d like to tell you about is checking texts
for copyright infringement. All you need to do is add a few pieces
of content to the alert (don’t forget to quote it to search for
the exact match).

example of using Boolean search to check for plagiarized content

The app will search for matches of those pieces on social media
platforms and the web and notify you each time someone’s taking
advantage of your work without permission.

Final words

Using Boolean for Social Media Monitoring is a great way to cut
through countless mentions to find those gems that let you
understand your audience better and reach your social media
marketing goals.

So when you shop for a social media monitoring tool, make sure
it’s equipped with a Boolean search mode.

The post
Boolean search for social media monitoring: What to track, how to
track, and why appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The post Boolean search for social media monitoring: What to track, how to track, and why appeared first on Blog.

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