Social listening seems straightforward. Set up a social listening tool, enter your brand name using the “wizard”, and wait for the magic of search to happen.
Sometimes, it definitely works like that. But often, problems arise. Either your brand name is a common word (e.g., Apple, Orange, Forever 21), or there is another brand with the same name somewhere in another state or even another country. Or, your name includes special symbols (e.g., L’Oreal, H&M) that the tool’s wizard simply can’t read. And suddenly, your mentions’ feed is flooded with irrelevant mentions and you can’t find the ones you need.
This is when you need Boolean search. Boolean search is a manual type of search that allows for very specific queries. It works with Boolean logic operators: using commands such as AND, AND NOT, OR, etc. you tell the program all your search requirements and the extent of search flexibility.
The unusual brand name isn’t the only reason for the use of Boolean search. The flexibility of Boolean allows for many things, and most importantly, it allows you to move beyond brand monitoring. Social listening, after all, is a method. Most use it to find mentions of their brand on social media, discover the overall brand reputation, and maybe reply to unhappy customers. However, it can be also used for market research, social selling, link building, and so much more.
Here are a couple of examples.
Boolean search allows creating search queries that specify that you’re searching for mentions of your brand that have no links to your website. This way, you can find all unlinked mentions of your brand, contact the author or the webmaster, and ask them to add the link. As the mention is already there, it shouldn’t be a problem for the content owner to add the link. This might be the easiest and least awkward link building technique ever.
Social selling has multiple methods. Firstly, you can look for unhappy customers of your competitors ? search for the competitors’ negative reviews and negative mentions of your competitors ? and then comment on these posts offering your own product. You can also search for people openly looking for “X alternative” on social media and for people who are asking for a recommendation for a product or service like yours. In all these cases, you’ll need to create a complicated query involving multiple word combinations. For example, a query that will combine all word combinations that signal a buying intent (e.g., “looking for”, “can anyone recommend”, etc.) and the names of your industry (e.g., “vegan restaurant”, “vegan cafe”). You can only do this with Boolean search.
Market research is a complicated task and often you need as much help as you can get. With social listening, you can calculate your brand’s share of voice and the share of voice of each of your competitors. You can see which products are more and less popular on social media and where exactly the product is talked about the most. Some social listening tools will have specific features for that, but others can be easily used for market research as well if you know your way around ? you guessed it ? Boolean search.
In the guide below you’ll find step-by-step examples of how to use Boolean search for your marketing goals.
Click here to access the guide.Digital & Social Articles on Business 2 Community