Interview: Professor Mike McGuirk on How Brandwatch For Students is Used in His Classroom
By Olivia SwainSep 6
Published August 15th 2013
Since we were mentioned in DragonSearch’s report last week, the importance of finding relevant data by embracing sophisticated Query writing has become increasingly clear. As such, we felt it was only appropriate that we dig into the report to look for any valuable insights into how social media monitoring tools implement their search Queries.
If you haven’t read the results of the case study, download a copy for free here.
1. Which social media monitoring tools are inadequate?
After surveying a handful of social media monitoring tools, DragonSearch discovered a wide range of interfaces for creating queries.
Although all of the tools tested handle the basic Boolean operators, including AND, OR and NOT, DragonSearch found that the majority were inadequate as they are severely limited in more advanced operators.
For those of you who haven’t heard of Boolean (and no, it’s not spelled Bouillon, there’s a difference between soup and search), it’s the part that makes search websites like Google interpret your searches.
For example, media monitoring tools Fresh Web Explorer and Mention do not accept parenthesis in their Boolean search expressions, therefore making it impossible to specify order or grouping search terms together. (Looking for a challenge? Try creating a Query to capture all mentions about the brand Mention)
Unfortunately, search limits may not be apparent until you’ve already laid out the money for a tool and then find out how hard it is to specify what you’re looking for.
2. So what operators should my monitoring tool include?
The report details that most platforms should support additional Boolean functionality like “quotes”, (parentheses), wildcards* and proximity~ to make your search more accurate and powerful. More about this comprehensive set of operators can be found here.
One of our favourite operators is the truncation wildcard (symbol *). It provides the ability to expand your search to include any words that begin with same root, but could end in anything of any size.
Searching for house* in Brandwatch would include mentions with house, houses, housed, household etc. but not housing as the root is made up of 5 characters.
Tip: in case you’re wondering what other words would be picked up using a wildcard, it’s worth excluding the stem, so entering (house* NOT house).
If any special search criteria matter in the types of things you are searching, such as hyphens, ampersands, upper/lower case, domains, location, etc. you should look for a tool that supports this.
There are the various ways to determine the location of a mention. In Brandwatch, specifying country:uk would only return mentions from the UK. For those who want to dig deeper, there’s a pop-up that creates location operators for specific areas. If you enter New York City, we automatically create the location operator city:new8.
3. What is the key to successful results?
Some tools have licenses based on a monthly limit of the number of mentions returned. No tool is perfect, but if a large amount of your results are irrelevant for your needs, you’re wasting time and money.
According to DragonSearch:
“The key to an effective query is the ability to include and exclude keywords and variations of keywords, specify proximity, and parse it all into a logical hierarchy so related parts of the query can be grouped together and operated on in the appropriate order.”