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5 Tips For Better Social Listening Searches

By Ali Nilsen  •  February 1, 2019

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5 Tips For Better Social Listening Searches

Posted by: Ali Nilsen on February 1, 2019
As a client success manager at Infegy, I often get questions around tips for building search queries within our social listening tool the right way and getting the best results out of those searches.
Conducting social listening research may appear to require an expert’s hand to get the best metrics and results for your team. But with the right technology and mindset, you can be a social intelligence maestro in no time.
While there’s no magic potion to getting the best analysis, there are sure ways to enhance your social listening research, build better search queries, and ultimately get more accurate and insightful results that help in your audience and consumer research efforts.
The query you plug into the platform is the first (and most important) step in getting strong data from Infegy Atlas. Whether you’re interested in generating insights around a specific brand, product, topic or industry, I’m here to share 5 of my favorite tips that will help you as you get started.
So, let’s dive in to some ways to make your research do more for you.

5 Tips for Easy Social Listening TITLE

1. Think Like the Consumer

The benefit of social intelligence over more traditional methods such as surveys is that you’re getting true, unbiased feedback from real consumers. This means to get true insight into consumer sentiment, you may need to think creatively about how to structure your query.
Put yourself in the shoes of your audience. Ask: “If I was a consumer talking about this topic online, how would I naturally communicate?” Take for example, mentions related to health food. Would most consumers naturally divulge online “I love health food”? Perhaps. But probably not very frequently. Instead, consumers could talk about a variety of topics related to health food. Use your knowledge of health foods and their consumers as a proxy to pull in relevant conversations.

healthy food post example annotated

Pinterest Post from Health Food Atlas Search example

2. Let the Platform Do the Heavy Lifting For You

Infegy’s engineering team has made it super easy for novice users to get up and running in the platform through our newest feature, the smart query builder, which will take some of the guesswork out of research.
The query builder helps you build queries thanks to preset search terms known as “Entities”. Within the platform, entities are notable people, products and brands that you can easily search for in the tool without needing to know the ins and outs of boolean query logic.
This feature relies on Infegy Atlas’ contextual understanding of notable people, products and brands to pull in relevant posts to be analyzed.
Take Apple for example- using entities, we can pull in relevant conversations about the tech brand’s products, its stock price, its executive leadership, CEO Tim Cook, even if Apple isn’t mentioned by name. What a great way to get going without needing to be a boolean query writing master!
Here we were wanting to see data around pumpkin desserts from entities such as Kraft or Nestle:

Atlas New Query Builder (with Entities)-1

3. Utilize Handles and Hashtags in Your Search

Include relevant handles and hashtags in your query. Say you’re searching for mentions related to Pizza Hut. Including the phrase “Pizza Hut” in your query is a step in the right direction towards bringing in relevant mentions of the brand.
However, by not also including the associated brand handle and hashtag, you may be leaving relevant conversation on the table. Pro tip: exclude mentions coming from the brand handle using the author operator below.

Pizza Hut search query (NO brand handles)

And here’s what the Pizza Hut results page with a persona overview looks like for the search without branded mentions, in case you’re curious:

Pizza Hut Atlas Overview (no brand handle results)

4. Improve Your Query With the Near Operator

Some queries in social listening tools can be trickier than others, especially those that have a name that could be used in relation to something different online.
Consider brands like Amazon and Target. Just searching for “Amazon” in Atlas would pull in mentions of the mega e-tailer but also could generate conversations related to the Amazon rainforest or Amazon jungle.
Likewise, the term “Target” may pull in mentions related to everyone’s favorite big box store, but it could also pull in less relevant conversations around target practice, target date retirement funds etc.
So how to deal with this? Use a NEAR/ operator to qualify conversations. This means you’ll only be looking at mentions of Amazon if its within the context of shopping, orders, purchases etc. If you want to incorporate results that had your chosen terms within 6 words of the primary topic, you would use: NEAR/6. See below for a quick example.

Amazon near operator query


5. Broaden Your Search

Some topics, based on their nature aren’t discussed very frequently online. This means if there isn’t a significant volume of conversations online given your niche research topic, you may need to broaden your approach and instead focus on industry or topic level insights.
This can be helpful as it ensures a robust volume of posts can be analyzed and you are well positioned to understand the broader industry or topic.
Consider motor oil. Most consumers are unlikely to take to the web to decry their love for oil such as (I love “Penzoil Ultra Platinum 5w-30 motor oil!”). They’re more likely to mention the broader topic of “getting an oil change” or just referencing “motor oil” in their social media posts.
Remember that real live people are the basis for social intelligence and this means you may, at times, need to adjust your approach accordingly.


With that, you have 5 quick tips to help you easily become a social intelligence and listening research expert. Put these tactics to use during your research and you’ll have valuable, and accurate, insights about your audiences with a little more simplicity. Keep these tips in mind and you’ll get the hang of it.
If you are ever in need of help with your search query or just want to bounce some ideas off me when you hit a roadblock, we’re here for you. Our support team knows the social listening platform inside and out, and we’ve helped clients find the right insights to achieve some awesome things using this research. 

Topics: social research tool, consumer research, social listening tools


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