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

Boolean search for social media monitoring: what to follow, how to follow and why

If you have some experience with social media monitoring platforms, you know that it is sometimes difficult to get accurate results: apps can display a lot of noise for brands with common names or, on the contrary, some valuable data may be missing due to restrictive filters.

That's when searching Boolean fits perfectly.

Boolean search definition

In a broad sense, a Boolean search is a type of search that combines terms with operators. It is used in tools for social listening, search engines and other apps. This allows you to find exactly what you are looking for and exclude what you are not. I must mention that not all social listening tools offer Boolean capabilities, but some platforms such as Awario, SproutSocial or Google Alerts allow you to test before you start your subscription.

Dealing with those Boolean questions can initially look intimidating if you are not familiar with programming. But the good news is that not everyone needs Boolean first: if you keep an eye on unique keywords, you'll be fine with a regular search mode. And secondly, mastering the basics of making Boolean searches requires no technical background at all.

Boolean terms explained

Before making your first search, you must become familiar with large Boolean operators, such as "AND", "OR", "AND NOT" (which is sometimes used as "NOT" or simply "-").


This limits your search to find results of both keywords or groups of keywords within one message, so the search query such as "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 a term is mentioned. This can be good for spelling mistakes, typos and alternatives of the same term. For example "Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge" OR "Duchess Kate" will display entries with every version of her name:

example of using OR boolean to search for spelling errors, typos and alternatives of the same term


With AND NOT you can exclude terms that you do not want to display in your search results. If you do not want to receive any statements about Prince William's 37th birthday, ("Prince William" AND NOT ANYTHING) will help you get relevant listings:

The list of Boolean operators and their logic varies on different tools: some of them, such as Google Alerts, have a fairly basic set (which is sufficient in most cases) that includes "OR", "-", "site", quotes and an asterisk. Others, such as Brandwatch, offer advanced operators such as "NEAR / n", "raw", "country" and more.

Where and how to use Boolean?

Boolean search applies to multiple scenarios, but I would like to focus on cases where this mode is indispensable. So below you can find the cases where a few lines of code can save you a lot of time when cutting through the noise.

Save time when entering all alternatives for brand names

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

Let's say there is a brand that C.S. Johnson & Sons hot. This brand name can be spelled in different ways:

Use Boolean to create a query with just a few lines of code

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

example of creating a Boolean search query

Get control over acronyms or brands with common names

As in the previous case, you can use the power of grouping words to search for brands with common or ambiguous names. And there are two ways to deal with those cases.

First of all, you can exclude irrelevant results by adding a group of negative keywords. These are terms that you do not want to use in your results:

example of gaining control of 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 that you find results that are important to your business.

Example of adding generic terms to brand names for Boolean searches

On the screenshot above, at the top, you will find a handle for social media and a website that produces relevant results. They are followed by the brand name that can be used in several cases, but we only limit it to the relevant case.

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

example of using AND and "AND NOT" operators for boolean searches

This search only returns relevant results because the entire search query is supported by negative terms.

Find linkless pages for building links

With Boolean search you can easily create searches that only contain listings of a certain brand or industry and have no links to this brand. It works best for news articles and other web pages, so keep in mind that you also need a tool that checks these sources:

This search query provides all web pages with JIRA on the internet and has no links to their website. It is therefore our task to reach website owners to turn those pages & # 39; s backlinks.

Monitor mentions from specific regions & # 39; s

This technique is useful for international companies. You can set a warning that provides relevant entries to a person who is in charge of the business unit from a specific geographical area.

You can use the land operator to limit the search to a specific location offered by social networks. In addition, you can create another group of keywords that will provide search results for your keywords with location names. In this way, the tool handles entries where people use the names of relevant locations in the text of a message.

The example above looks for entries that are posted in the US, as well as all entries that use location keywords in a message.

Discover dissatisfied customers

This is great for crisis managers in a company. With Boolean search you can create searches that search for messages with problematic terms.

To use this, you need the proximity operator near / n that allows you to specify the maximum distance between a company name and a word or phrase that is commonly used to complain about something online:

Generate new leads

The other case where Boolean searching comes in handy is the generation of leads. To set up a search, you need to think of a few sentences that people usually use to ask for services online, such as "I'm looking for", "I need", "recommend me" and similar queries .

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

This search checks social platforms for all new messages where people search for web designers. All you have to do is communicate with the messages internally (if this is possible) or externally via a social media platform.

Check texts for plagiarism

And the last thing I want to tell you about is checking texts for copyright infringement. All you have to do is add a few pieces of content to the notification (don't forget to quote to find the exact match).

example of using Boolean searches to check for plagiarized content

The app searches for similarities of those pieces on social media platforms and the internet and alerts you whenever someone uses your work without permission.

Final words

Using Boolean for social media monitoring is a great way to break through countless listings to find those gems to help you better understand your audience and reach your social media marketing goals.

So if you are looking for a social media monitoring tool, make sure it is equipped with a Boolean search mode.

Aleh is the founder and CMO of SEO PowerSuite and Awario. You can find it on Twitter at.

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