Refining The Social Mentions Results

The example we used with P.C. Richard & Son was to illustrate how many variations your brand name may have. We could have also looked for mentions of just the PC Richard part of the name, or mentions of the site URL, twitter handle, etc., but for this example, we chose to limit any further complexity.

Consider these additional criteria for social media monitoring tool queries:

Date Range

There are two factors to consider regarding dates:

1.Timeliness of data and

2.Ability to search mentions within a range of dates.

How Often is Data Collected?

Find out how often the data is collected from the internet and see how far back it goes. Is it real time data, or are you looking at a database that has a snapshot taken earlier? Fresh Web Explorer creates a new index every 8 hours. According to Brandwatch, they crawl around 65 million sources a day to look for new mentions. The most important sites are checked every few seconds, or in real time for sites like Twitter. Sites that are rarely updated, like obscure forums and seldom-read blogs might be checked only every few hours or longer. Once a mention has been found, it will appear in the Brandwatch dashboard.

Using a small sample of social media monitoring tools, we queried a Twitter handle after sending a tweet from it and after mentioning that Twitter handle from another Twitter account. We then waited to see which of several social media monitoring tools saw the tweet first. Results were inconclusive. Sometimes the tool which first saw a mention was not the first tool to see one another time. Sometimes the mention only showed up after we changed screens or did some action that seemed to have refreshed the list of mentions. Some tweets never showed up on some tools but did on others and it wasn’t clear what distinguished it to be missed versus other tweets that did show up. Some tools seemed to report mentions a bunch at a time, with long gaps in between.

Based on the inconsistent results of this basic test, we are not going to examine the results or draw any conclusions on a specific tool’s performance since it is beyond the scope of this whitepaper. But it is worth noting that no tool is perfect and there is a chance that some mentions will be missed, and some will take longer to be reported than others. In cases where being thorough is critical, it may be worthwhile to also set up alerts from alternative monitoring tools to supplement your main one.

Additionally, if it is important for you to get alerts of mentions as soon as they arrive so you can respond to them immediately, then timeliness of alerts is an important requirement. See if the tool allows you to set up alerts to arrive immediately as they come in, or allows you to set up the sending alerts in batches at some regularly scheduled interval.

Setting Criteria Based on Dates

Can you set criteria in your query or filter the results based on the dates? You might want to analyze a lot of historical data, or you might only want to see what’s new in the past week or even just today.


In Brandwatch, once you have your data, you can apply controls to it to select the dates of the mentions you want to look at. You have the choice of a fixed date range, that is, any mentions between specific dates, or a range of today or the latest 7 or 14 days, 1 month or 2 months.

Screen Shot from the Brandwatch social media monitoring tool showing how you can filter results using a fixed date range. Screen Shot from the Brandwatch social media monitoring tool showing how you can filter results using a period of days going back from today.

Fresh Web Explorer

The Fresh Web Explorer data is a 30 day index that is refreshed every 8 hours. The tool allows you to search by the past week, two weeks, or 30 days of mentions. You cannot specify any specific date range, or go back beyond 4 weeks of historical data.

Screen shot from Fresh Web Explorer social monitoring tool, showing the options for the date range to filter data by (last week, last 2 or 4 weeks).


Mention doesn’t appear to have a way to ask for specific date ranges. It will send you real time alerts whenever it finds a new mention and you can see previous mentions as far back as to the date that you created the alert for a particular query. So there’s no previous history to search through. If your objective is to respond as soon as possible to social mentions and not to analyze past history, then alerts may be all you need.

Domain/URL Inclusion or Exclusion

Being able to exclude specific websites in the results is useful for our example because we do not want to return mentions of the brand name on the company website. You wouldn’t want to fill your list of results with every new product or sale advertised on your site.


Brandwatch allows use of a site: operator to specify a domain. When we excluded the company’s domain using NOT, the number of mentions dropped from 169 to 133. Clearly if you are paying for the license based on the number of mentions returned, you are going to want to exclude as many as possible that you don’t need to monitor.

Screen Shot from the Brandwatch social media monitoring tool showing use of the NOT and site: operators to exclude specific sites from the search.

Fresh Web Explorer

Fresh Web Explorer allows a site: operator to include (or -site: to exclude) mentions from a particular site. (We used a simplified version of our query in this example since the complex variations do not work on this tool.)

Screen Shot from the Fresh Web Explorer monitoring tool showing how you can exclude results from sites with the –site: operator.


Mention provides a box for excluding websites.

Screen Shot from the Mention social media monitoring tool showing how you can filter results by excluding specific URLs.

Sources of Data

If we were only monitoring social media mentions for opportunities to join conversations and engage our customers, we might want to limit the sources of our data.


In Brandwatch, when you create a query you can specify if you want a query from a Facebook page, Twitter feed, or a web query. If you choose a web query, you can specify the domain names of the networks you want to monitor using the site:operator.

Screen Shot from the Brandwatch social media monitoring tool showing how you can limit results to specific domain names with the site: operator.

Fresh Web Explorer

We thought we could specify only the Twitter site for our search criteria in Fresh Web Explorer, but there were no results. Fresh Web Explorer does not yet support finding mentions on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook which makes it inadequate for listening to conversations on social networks.

Screen Shot from the Fresh Web Explorer social media monitoring tool showing how it cannot find any results from when the site: operator is used.

However it did find mentions on other sites (e.g.,

Screenshot of Fresh Web Explorer tool showing you can specify a site such as in the query, but not Twitter.


Mention allows you to specify the sources of your data as part of the query creation process:

Screen Shot from the Mention social media monitoring tool showing how you can filter results by criteria such as sources and URL.

Many tools provide a built-in filter that automatically excludes any sites which look like spam from showing up in their results. Without such a filter, your results could possibly be polluted with bogus sites which will take precious time to weed through and remove.

Geographic Location

The social media strategy of a local business is going to be very different from that of a national brand. If your company or clients only serve a specific geographic location, or if you plan to perform trend analysis comparing social mentions from various locations, then you want to make sure the tool you choose can specify the location either in the query or later in a filter. If the tool is licensed by the number of mentions, then clearly you should limit results of the query to the location you want. Otherwise, whether it is specified in the query or the filter isn’t as crucial.

For example, if your client is a professional that only serves one city or county, and he has a very common name, you may want to limit your criteria to social mentions in that geographic area as to not pollute your results with others who share his name in other parts of the country. Another example is if you are monitoring your competitor’s product and want to see what sentiment their customers have in a particular geographic target market, in case there is an opportunity there to grab their market share.

How Does the Tool Determine the Location?

There are various ways to determine the location of the mention. The simplest way would be to include searching for the location names within the page. This isn’t foolproof, as a site might assume you know where they are located or may use a different variation of the location name. For example, if you were looking for your brand name in Manhattan, you might include variations of New York City, but you might miss downtown or Soho in a New York City based page that assumes their readership is based in New York City.

If the location is very important to you, then you should dig deeper into the documentation for the social media monitoring tools you are evaluating and see how thoroughly they search on location.

Here are some ideas on how they may be determining location. Except for geo-coordinates from a GPS, they can usually infer the location, but that is not reliable.

bulletUsing geo-coordinates when provided by a user (usually from a mobile device
with a GPS). This is the only reliable method to determine location.

bulletWhen the location name and variations of it are displayed in text on the website.

bulletWhat time zone they are in.

bulletTop level domains that specify the location, such as Amazon in France is However, some sites are using some top level domains to
create catchy URLs, so a site like is not actually based in Italy.

bulletUsing the IP address of the website to determine the location of the site’s host server.

bulletNote: some tools may consider their technology to determine geolocation as
proprietary and not disclose any details.

Additional Keywords

You may want to take the results of your query and filter it to be even more specific. See if the tool you are evaluating can filter the results based on additional keywords, or assign categories based on keywords.

For example, you may have a query to look for social mentions of a particular company’s brand name and then want to do some separate analytics on different product names within that company.


If the business or industry you are monitoring is internationally based or you care about a target audience that may speak another language, then make sure your social media monitoring tool supports foreign language websites and can determine social mentions that are in foreign languages.

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