Screen Shot of Twitter's Advanced search page.

Social Media Listening

People talk. A lot. If people are talking about your brand, you should want to know what’s being said. Social Media Listening is like eavesdropping on the internet. Some users might tag a post on social media with a company’s handle/username, e.g., @seanasimpson, which is the best case scenario because the administrator of that account would receive a notification and be able to see what’s going on. But what if a user, for whatever reason, talks about a brand in a way that doesn’t send a notification? There’s a lot of potentially missed opportunities if a company relies only on monitoring their tagged mentions. So how can those other posts be found?

Think Like Someone Who Doesn’t Work For Your Company

If you didn’t work for your company and didn’t know what you know, how could you make it clear that your Tweet, Facebook Post, Instagram, etc. is about the company? Companies often have more than one way the public refers to them, make a list of all of the AKA’s you can. Those alternate names are the start to your list of terms we’ll be searching for.

Example: The Bay has been rebranded as Hudson’s Bay. Before either, it was The Hudson’s Bay Company. It also uses the acronym HBC. Although the official Twitter account is @hudsonsbay, I could easily make it clear I was talking about them by only including one or more of these hashtags: #TheBay, #HudsonsBay, #Bay, and #HBC.

If Hudson’s Bay didn’t have tracking set up for those terms, imagine how many conversations they’d be missing out on!

Here are 3 easy ways to set up social media listening for free!

Google AlertsScreenshot of Google Alerta

2. A minus sign () in front of a word excludes entries with that word from the results.


“Toronto Ontario” -Ford

3. The site: operator limits your search to specific sites.

Example: “Toronto Events” -networking Note: there are no spaces in site:[]

One downside is that Google will pull in results that do technically match your request, but are irrelevant, like if you set up an alert for a popular name, but only want results related to a specific instance. The good news is that with some creative use of search operators, you can exclude a lot of irrelevant results before you ever see them. For more information and tips, check out Google’s Alerts Help Section and Google’s list of available search operators.


Screen Shot of Twitter's Advanced search page.



Twitter’s native Advanced Search feature offers a powerful way to find content with a ton of options to drill down as far as you’d like. The search functions very similarly to Google, although it’s not a 1:1 translation, for example, you can search for exact phrases, but you don’t need to remember to put them in quotes, the term just needs to be in the correct input field.

Unfortunately, the Twitter search is limited to content on Twitter. The upside is that you can save your searches so you don’t need to reenter the same information every time you’d like to look around.



Screen shot of mention.com


Mention is a great service that delivers results in real time, based on key words you tell it to find. Mention searches Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Blogs, and News and returns the results immediately. They have an app for smartphones, so users can keep an eye on what’s going on where ever they are. Mention is a web-based application, so for the desktop version, there’s nothing to download.

The downside: the full-featured version of Mention is a paid service. However, users can sign up and receive 2 weeks of the non-restricted service for free without giving any credit or payment information. After the trial period, the service downgrades to a very reduced basic version. Paid tiers begin at $29.

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