Blog
How to use Boolean search | A complete guide for creating great social media monitoring queries

How to use Boolean search | A complete guide for creating great social media monitoring queries

It is no longer enough to respond to social media posts that tag you or your brand. In the current landscape, it is essential to track conversations that are relevant to your brand and interact with your audiences. You also need to keep an eye on any negative conversations and prevent it from becoming viral. Talkwalker’s Free Social Search tool will help you find out what is being said about your brand. Before you start exploring your brand’s online presence, here is a list of Boolean search and query syntax that will help you create great social media monitoring queries.

Sign up for Free Social Search

What is Boolean search?

Boolean search is a type of search that allows you to combine keywords using Boolean operators to create accurate and relevant results. There are 7 main elements that can help you create your search queries:

  1. AND
  2. OR
  3. AND NOT
  4. Quotes "..."
  5. Brackets ()
  6. Wildcard Search *
  7. Proximity Search ~
  8. Sentence search
  9. Special characters
  10. Similar keyword search
  11. Similar phrase search
  12. Title search
  13. Content search
  14. Twitter followers

By applying the above elements to your keywords, you can create a wide variety of searches. There is no limit on how many times you can use these elements in a search. This means that you can create specific search queries that give accurate results. This will save a lot of time which you might otherwise spend on manually filtering your results.

Let us understand each of these elements and how they function.

The AND operator

AND reduces the number of results as it combines two or more keywords. This means that your search will show only those results which contain both keywords.

combining two keywords with AND Boolean

The area highlighted in blue represents the results that you would receive by combining two keywords with AND.

You can add as many keywords as you want using AND. As you add more keywords, your search will become narrower. However, if you are looking for results that mention all the keywords, the AND Boolean is your best friend.

The OR operator

OR increases the number of results as it enlarges your search query with more keywords. If you want your results to include either keywords, you can use the OR Boolean.

Combine two keywords with OR Boolean

The area highlighted in blue represents the results that you would receive by combining two keywords with OR

When you want results from both keywords simultaneously, you can use the OR Boolean. You can add as many keywords as you want. This is especially useful when your brand name or product can be written in multiple ways. Here is an example: J&J OR “Johnson & Johnson” OR JNJ

The AND NOT operator

AND NOT will reduce the number of results as it excludes the second keyword from the query. If you want to exclude one or more keywords from your search results, you can use this Boolean. For example: “Johnson’s baby” AND NOT “Boris Johnson”

Combine two keywords with AND NOT boolean

The area highlighted in blue represents the results that you would receive by combining two keywords with AND NOT

Quotation Marks "..."

When you are looking for an exact string of character, enclose your search query in quotation marks. This will reduce the number of results as it will look for an exact match. You must use "" quotes in the following scenarios:

  • You brand name has more than 1 word
  • Your issue/industry keywords have more than 1 word
  • You have set up alerts for your name/name of executives
  • You have set up alerts for your company tagline

Brackets ()

Brackets - to help you make more complex searches

() Brackets help organize keywords and operators making it easier for you to do more complex searches.

BMW AND (motorcycle OR car) will return results where BMW is mentioned together either with the word motorcycle or with the word car.

Wildcard operators * and ?

The wildcard operator can be used to complete a keyword. The asterisk wildcard operator (*) stands for 0 or any number of possible options. and is only accepted at the end of a keyword. You can use the asterisk wildcard (*) to include alternative forms of words.

For example, if your search contains the word Luxembourg, you can use Luxemb* in your query. This will return results for Luxembourg, Luxemburg, Luxembourgish or any other words containing Luxemb.

NOTE: It is not advisable to use the asterisk wildcard operator (*) for gender/plural endings as this will return too many irrelevant results (other meanings, variations in different languages).

The question mark wildcard operator (?) is used to replace exactly one character. You can consider using this for words that are spelled differently in British and American English.

Examples: Apologi?e, Paraly?e, Defen?e

Proximity searches

When you want to look for words that are close to each other the NEAR/X operator is extremely useful. X defines distance from the keyword in terms of number of words. So, if you want your keywords to have a maximum distance of 5 words, use NEAR/5 in your search query.

Here is an example: (Talkwalker) NEAR/4 (“sentiment analysis” OR “brand mentions”)

This search query will fetch all results that contain the words “sentiment analysis” or “brand mentions” at a maximum distance of 4 words from the keyword “Talkwalker”.

Sentence search

If you are searching for results that contain two or more keywords in the same sentence, use the SENTENCE operator. For example, (Talkwalker) SENTENCE (“sentiment analysis” OR “brand mentions”) returns results where Talkwalker is mentioned in the same sentence as sentiment analysis or brand mentions.

Special characters

Does your brand name contain special characters (@,#, $, -,+, and &) or punctuation? If yes, you will find Raw Data Search very useful. Raw Data Search +"..." will help you find an exact sequence of characters, including special characters. For Raw Data Search you need to add the + symbol before your keyword and enclose your keyword in quotes.

For example, +"l'oréal" will find results respecting the characters ' and ´.

If you want to track exact matches, including special characters and capitalization, use ++ before your search query. ++"L'Oréal" will return results respecting the characters ' and ´ as well as the capital letters L and O.

Similar keyword search

If you want to search for similar keywords, use tilde followed by the alphabet count (~X) after a keyword. For instance, the search query money~1 will find results with money, honey, etc.

Similar phrase search

If you want to search for phrases that may or may not contain hyphen, space, or other special character, use the tilde symbol (~) after the phrase. The tilde symbol (~) can be used for phrases with a maximum of 4 words.

Example: The search query “stay at home"~ will find results for stayathome, stay-athome, stay at home, etc.

Title search

If you want results where your keyword has been mentioned in the title search of an article, use the Title search.

Example: The search query title:LEGO will find results where Lego is mentioned in the article title.

Content search

Like the Title search, the content search gives results where your keyword has been mentioned in the content of an article.

Example: The search query title:LEGO will find results where Lego is mentioned in the content of an article.

Twitter followers

Do you want results only from mentions by people with a certain number of followers? You can use twitter_followers:>x in your search query to make sure that you target people with many (or few) followers.

Example: The search query Talkwalker AND twitter_followers:>1000 will give you results from Twitter accounts with at least 1000 followers

Brand Monitoring - Talkwalker Free Social Search