The Complete Guide to Brand Monitoring using Google, Bing, and Twitter


WHERE and HOW to find ALL your press coverage onlineGoogle Chalkboard

It’s the email you never want to get.  You cringe.  One of your 50 responsibilities is to monitor for brand mentions and your client/boss/CEO has just sent you the very important article that you missed.  “Why did you miss it?  What else is falling through the cracks?”   It should have shown up in your media database.  It didn’t.   Should have been in Google Alerts.  Not there either.  Why the F%^& wasn’t it there?

Unfortunately, there is no simple solution for monitoring news about your brand.   There was a time where a Google Alert was the only thing you needed to find all of the news that you wanted to monitor.   As with many great Google features (or any other free service) they can lose functionality or disappear all together (R.I.P. Reader).  But…there is a way to improve your chances.  It’s not easy – but our guide will help make sure you’re finding that information before anyone else does.

The Strategy

When free tools can do the same thing as paid ones we prefer the free ones.  That’s why this guide will focus on Google, Bing, and Twitter.  Many of the search strategies presented will still be helpful if you prefer to use other sources.  Even the best paid search tools are made more reliable with a better understanding of advanced search techniques.

The core of our DIY brand monitoring platform is a folder of searches that we have bookmarked.  Every day we open a bunch of tabs and scan through our searches to find our clips.  Then we use Report Mule to format our links into a polished report, grab analytical data, tag each article with custom metrics, and review social sharing.

Let’s start with the basics.

What Are You Looking For?

Your monitoring needs are unique – just like you, your brand, and your industry.  Your tracking methods need to reflect this.

Maybe you’d like to identify and track a few competitors.  Maybe you’re looking to stay ahead of notable industry news.  Maybe you don’t need any of that – and you’re only looking for mentions of your brand or client.

Whatever the case, it’s crucial to find the people, products, projects, and publications that are relevant to your brand.  A search for a company name alone will only get you so far.  The more targeted your searches, the more coverage you’ll uncover – and the more time you’ll save.

The most effective searches are the ones that are most specific.  Specificity can come in several forms.  Combining keywords.  Limiting searches to specific publications.  Searching within a specific time frame.  Omitting certain publications or unrelated keywords.

The goal in building your brand monitoring platform will be to identify the best search combinations that capture all your news while limiting irrelevant results.  This may be done in 5 different searches or it may require many more.

Finding Keywords for Your Brand

First – find keywords related to your brand.  The logic here is that the most important coverage of your brand will be more in depth than a simple mention of your brand name.   It may be an executive profile, discuss your products or services, or include other detailed information relating to your brand.  Start by making a list of these specifics and use those searches as the foundation of your brand monitoring.

  • Executives and board members
  • Projects and initiatives
  • Products
  • Partnerships
  • Recent announcements
  • Investors
  • Legal matters (past and/or present)
  • Stock info (ticker symbol)

Where to find this information

  1. Look into company websites and press releases to find available information.
  2. Some companies will not include press releases on their site, so you may want to try a search within top press release distribution sites using the following search:

company name” site:prnewswire.com | site:businesswire.com | site:marketwired.com | site:prweb.com | site:globenewswire.com | site:pr.com

  1. If the company has a Press page – read through some articles and look for specific details that are related to the brand.
  2. Run some basic Google searches to find recent coverage –a Google News search for the company name over the Past Year is a good place to start. Take note of recent stories, key people, and products or initiatives being mentioned.

Make a list of important publications

One strategy that we’ll use is to target our searches in the most important publications that may be covering your brand.   Start with key high profile general publications (New York Times, LA Times, Wall Street Journal types) and relevant trade publications (for tech – TechCrunch, Re/Code, The Next Web). Look at websites that have covered the brand in the past.   Search for competitor news and keep a list of the publications that have written about them in the past.

Which Search Engines Should You Be Using?

We’ve found that different search tools offer different results, so its crucial to use a variety of sources to get a sense of any and all information on a specific brand or company.

Here’s how you can make the most of them.

Google searches are best suited for:

  • Advanced searches – searches for multiple keywords and searches using specific filters
  • Targeted searches – when you’re looking for a specific article or results from a specific list of websites
  • News archives – coverage from months or years back

Bing searches are best suited for:

  • Supplemental searches – results that you may not find in a Google News search
  • Recent news coverage

Twitter searches are best suited for:

  • Finding articles based on the number of times they’ve been shared

Setting Up Your Google Searches

A collection of custom Google searches is really your best bet for locating most of the coverage that’s out there. We’ll spend the majority of this post discussing specifics related to Google searches, and will discuss how other search methods can supplement Google.  One key to remember – sometimes choosing what to exclude can be just as important as figuring out what to include in a search.

The types of searches you’ll need:

Simple searches:

  • Brand or client names
  • Competitor names
  • Industry keywords
  • Basic keyword combinations for broad results

Advanced searches with multiple words or phrases to find coverage for:

  • Variations of different terms
  • Multiple people within an organization or industry
  • Different products or services offered by a company
  • Events (conferences, awards, investor presentations and conference calls)

Site-specific searches:

  • Used in conjunction with simple or advanced searches to find coverage from specific websites

Search Operators

In our experience, you MUST use search operators to get the most comprehensive – and targeted – results.

We like to experiment with different combinations of search operators to yield more targeted results – but if you’re not familiar with even the most basic modifiers, you may be more comfortable starting with a Google Advanced Search form. This will help you compose a query for multiple search parameters.

Our TOP 4 most useful search operators

  • “ ” quotation marks (if you’re looking for an exact word or phrase)
  • |    vertical bar – interchangeable with OR for basic searches
  • ( ) parentheses – to group items together
  • site: (limit results to a specific site) or -site: (to exclude a specific site from your searches)

General rules for using search operators

A few important things to keep in mind when using search operators – and conducting searches in general:

Mind your spaces

One extra space anywhere in your query string will render your search unusable. Make sure you don’t have any spaces between site: operators and domains, or any other operators that include a colon ( inurl: , intext: , intitle: )

For example site:reportmule.com rather than site: reportmule.com

It may be helpful to check longer searches in Word using the Show/Hide nonprinting characters button to see any spaces.

Look for this icon in the toolbar:  Paragraph icon

Mac:  Command+* or Shift+Command+8

Windows:   Ctrl+* or Shift+Ctrl+8

Mind your parentheticals

Make sure that searches include both an open ( and a closed ) parenthesis. If you leave a parenthetical list open – a fairly common oversight – that search will not function as intended. You won’t often realize why your search isn’t working, so it may take a closer look at the full search query in Word to spot any missing pieces.

Keep your searches limited to 32 words

You can go wild when it comes to the number of characters in a particular search, but Google will cut off any portion of your query that exceeds 32 words.

* Keep in mind, Google counts each vertical bar | as a word

In most cases, this will give you a combination of 10-15 keywords and/or sites to work with (or filter out) in any given search.

For any longer queries with multiple operators, it may be helpful to compose your search in Word and then check the Word count to make sure the full search string will be recognized.

Look for the Word Count option under the Tools menu.  Or use the following shortcuts:

Mac:  Command+Shift+G

Windows:  Ctrl+Shift+G

Instances when you may not want to use search operators

Because search operators are meant to limit your results, there may be times where you want to go with a more basic search. Maybe you’re looking for industry news related to apps for health on wearable devices.

You could compose a search using different combinations of related keywords, or you could just go with a basic search for:

Health wearables
or
Health app wearable

With these searches, you wouldn’t want to enclose any terms in quotes because a search for “health wearables” would be more restrictive, and you won’t see as many results where this specific phrase is used. You’re instead looking for instances where wearables and health or wearables and health apps are mentioned somewhere in the same article.

“ ” Quotation Marks

These can be especially useful when looking for:

  • Coverage of a specific product or initiative that a client or competitor offers
  • A specific person’s name
  • An exact phrase – especially in the case of more generic keywords

Quotation marks are a great place to start when composing a list of curated searches for your brand monitoring platform. You can use them with more basic searches for a brand, client, or competitor name to find a targeted batch of results.

Be careful with certain search operators – quotation marks in particular – because you may inadvertently exclude some results that you’d otherwise want to review. For example, you may be looking for articles related to the Apple Watch, but it won’t always be referenced using its official name.

Brand Monitoring Platform Quotation Marks Search Operator Apple Watch

Results from the search for Apple Watch without quotes

Brand Monitoring Platform Quotation Marks Search Operator Apple Watch

Results for the term “Apple Watch” in quotes

 

Notice how the two results above – at the top a search for Apple Watch (no quotations) and the bottom a search for “Apple Watch” yield different article summaries. In this case, you’re getting the same article with or without searching with quotation marks – but consider the next example

Brand Monitoring Platform Quotation Marks Search Operator Apple Watch Apps - page 9

 

Search results for "Apple Watch" Apps

In this case, we’re searching for articles discussing Apple Watch apps.

A search for “Apple Watch” apps with the name in quotes yields results specifically related to the Watch’s unveiling in September 2014 and apps expected at the time of the launch, along with a few tangential results focusing on the Apple Watch that briefly mention apps.

Results for a search of “Apple Watch apps” all in quotes yields just one result, as this is the only article that includes this exact phrase – and an example of how using quotation marks can severely limit your results.

|    Vertical Bar – interchangeable with OR for basic searches

These are essential when conducting searches for multiple keywords, phrases, and/or websites when you’re looking to build out your searches to be more specific and to save time by condensing a number of separate searches into one.

So if you were looking for articles on the Apple Watch or Apple TV, you could search for:

“Apple Watch” | “Apple TV” | “AppleTV”

* Notice in this search,  we used two different combinations of the Apple TV name because it’s likely that some writers may refer to it as a compound word.

* Also notice the use of quotation marks here.

The vertical bar is effective and time-saving when you’re looking for different products from the same company, rather than having separate searches for each individual product. This is also effective when looking for multiple employees/executives/board members at a particular company:

“Tim Cook” | “Angela Ahrendts” | “Eddy Cue” | “Craig Federighi” | “Jonathan Ive” | “Luca Maestri”

Keep in mind, this search will yield results mentioning these executives that don’t necessarily relate to their work at Apple. If your particular media monitoring needs require that you find articles referencing Tim Cook or other executives outside of their work at Apple, this search would be ideal.

( ) Parentheses

Parentheses can be used to hone your searches even further, by allowing you to combine basic search terms.

If you only want to locate references to employees that relate to their work at Apple, you may want to consider using parentheses to search for any instances referencing a member of the list above plus Apple.

Apple (“Tim Cook” | “Angela Ahrendts” | “Eddy Cue” | “Craig Federighi” | “Jonathan Ive” | “Luca Maestri”)

Using the parentheses search operator, this search performs 6 separate searches in one – essentially acting as a search for:

Apple AND Tim Cook

or         Apple AND Angela Ahrendts
or         Apple AND Eddy Cue
or         Apple AND Craig Federighi
or         Apple AND Jonathan Ive
or         Apple AND Luca Maestri

Maybe you’re interested in seeing coverage for Apple board members as well.

You may not want to see any and all coverage for Al Gore or Susan Wagner, and only need to see references to these board members related to their work with Apple. This particular combination of search operators – keeping these names in parentheses + Apple – would be more effective in locating the most targeted results:

Apple (“Arthur D. Levinson” | “Albert Gore Jr. ” | “Robert A. Iger” | “Susan L. Wagner”)

You can take this one step further by having two groups of parenthetical searches.

(Apple | iPhone | iPad | MacBook) (“Arthur D. Levinson” | “Albert Gore Jr. ” | “Robert A. Iger” | “Susan L. Wagner”)

This search would return results any time one term from the first group appears in an article with one term from the second group.

*** Pro tip –

As you’re conducting research to find specific people working for a client or competitor, you’re likely to come across more formal names for these employees/executives – especially if you’re searching on the company website.

It’s important to consider the names that are used more commonly to refer to these people in the press. For example, how often do you hear Al Gore referred to as Albert Gore? Or Bob Iger referred to as Robert A. Iger?

You might consider including as many permutations as you can identify to cover all bases:

Apple (“Arthur D. Levinson” | “Arthur Levinson” | “Albert Gore” | “Al Gore | “Robert A. Iger” | “Bob Iger” | “Susan L. Wagner” | “Susan Wagner”)

If you’re looking to find results for Apple news related to a specific aspect of the business, you might try a search for:

Apple | “AAPL” (earnings | stock | trading | “quarterly results” | shares)

* Notice how we enclosed the Apple ticker symbol in quotes, and used both the company name and ticker symbol for instances where the two might be used interchangeably.

site: (limit results to a specific site) or -site: (to exclude a specific site from your searches)

These operators can be used with basic or more advanced searches when you’re looking for news from a specific site or group of sites. They’re your best bet for filtering out junk or making sure mentions from a top-tier source don’t fall through the cracks.

If you want to see results for the Apple Watch from Re/code only, you could search for:

“Apple Watch” site:recode.net

* notice that you do not need to include the https://www. protocol for your site-specific search – you’ll just need the domain

Or – if you want to see results for the Apple Watch from Forbes, The New York Times, and Re/code only, you could search for:

“Apple Watch” site:forbes.com | site:nytimes.com | site:recode.net

* Notice in this search, you’ll need to make sure to include the vertical bar between sites to make sure you’re seeing results from forbes.com OR nytimes.com OR recode.net

If you’d like to search for multiple keywords to find results from these sites, you’ll want to make sure to utilize quotation marks and parentheses. So if you’re looking for articles on the Apple Watch and Apple TV from these website, you’d want to search for:

(“Apple Watch” | “Apple TV” | “AppleTV”) site:forbes.com | site:nytimes.com | site:recode.net

If you want to see search results from any sources with the exception of Apple’s website and YouTube, you could search for:

“Apple Watch” -site:apple.com -site:youtube.com

** Notice in this search, you do not need to include the vertical bar to separate sites you’d like to exclude from your results

If you’re searching for a keyword or phrase without using quotation marks – for instance, if you’d like to see if there might be results for the Apple Watch or Apple TV that may not mention their official names “Apple Watch” or “Apple TV” specifically, I could run a search for:

Apple (Watch | TV)

This would locate articles that mention Apple AND Watch or Apple AND TV in the same article – though again, you won’t necessarily see results for the Apple Watch and Apple TV specifically, so this may yield some irrelevant results.

 Additional search operators to consider

Some additional search modifiers and the types of searches they can be helpful for:

  • intitle: – to look for articles where your brand is in the title of the article.  This is effective for more targeted searches where a client or keyword mention is more prominent – instances where this might be useful would be a new product launch or corporate news

This will limit your results if the client or keyword in question is not mentioned specifically in the article title – so rather than serving as a primary search method, this is usually more effective as a supplemental targeted search.

  • intext: – used when you’re looking to find a keyword mentioned within article text – and specifically excludes mentions elsewhere on the webpage (like sidebar links or related articles)

This seems to lose its effectiveness when applied to longer search queries incorporating multiple search operators like site-specific searches or multiple phrases in quotes, but can be useful in weeding out unneeded results for basic searches

  • inurl: – can be used alone or in conjunction with site: or -site: operators to search for URLs containing a specific keyword
  • (dash) – as with the -site: operator, the (dash) can used to precede a keyword that you’d like exclude from your results

This can be helpful in trying to locate coverage for a word with multiple meanings or a name that’s fairly generic and could apply to different brands.

An example would be a newspaper commonly referred to as the Daily News – in this case, the Anchorage Daily News. It might be helpful when trying to locate coverage for a specific paper to exclude the names of other papers that can be ruled out, with titles like the New York Daily News likely to yield an inordinate number of irrelevant results. You might want to start with a search for “Daily News” and see what comes up – then filter those other names out using the (dash) search operator:

“Daily News” “New York Daily News” “Washington Daily News” “Kingsport Daily News”

You may also notice that a basic search like this will yield results for those websites – so if necessary, you may want to exclude those other websites in this search using the -site: search operator:

“Daily News” “New York Daily News” “Washington Daily News”“Kingsport Daily News” -site:nydailynews.com -site:thewashingtondailynews.com -site:kingsportdailynews.com

Search Filters for Time Period – How To Build Your Daily Bookmarks

For ongoing monitoring, when you’re checking these searches on a daily basis,  limiting search results by time is essential.  This way you only need to search through new results each time you run a search.

Google Filter by time period

An initial Google search will show you results for Any Time. By accessing the Search Tools menu at the top of your results, you’ll have the option to switch your results from Any Time to:

  • Past Hour – effective for real-time monitoring, when you’re looking for a specific article to post or for new mentions to roll in.
  • Past 24 Hours –ideal when using bookmarked searches for brands that see a lot of coverage on a daily basis. This time period is fairly easy to digest. It’s easy to recognize articles you’ve seen before or flag new mentions.
  • Past Week – helpful to use when tracking for topics or stories that typically see less coverage on a daily basis. With a search for the Past Week, you can review a wider range of articles and possibly catch older ones that should have shown up in a daily search but did not.
  • Past Month / Past Year – these are most helpful when you’re researching a topic for the first time.
  • Custom Range – most useful for when you’re looking for an article from a specific period of time that falls between fixed date ranges.

– It can sometimes be helpful to narrow your results to include only the articles published on the day you’re searching (if you’re looking outside of the Past Hour). To do this, select the same date for the From and To

– If you have daily bookmarks set up to check for new coverage over the Past 24 Hours, you may want to expand those searches at the beginning of the week to see what’s posted over the weekend. In this case, you’d want to select Friday’s date in the From field and Monday’s date for the To field

Setting a Custom Date Range in a Google Search

Tips for conducting ongoing searches

  • Keep an eye out for the color of search result titles (or headlines) you’re reviewing. Notice in the screenshot below how the article titles in the first cluster of articles are purple, while the article titles in the second cluster are blue.

Article titles change color from blue to purple once the article has been opened. This is helpful to note as you’re scanning results for a search that you’ve already reviewed in the past. These are browser specific so it’s best to use the same browser (Chrome, Firefox, Safari) for all of your searches.

Example of Purple vs Blue Links

When reviewing a topic that yields a large volume of results, it may be helpful to set your Google settings to see the maximum number of search results on each page (100).   This should allow you to scroll through much more quickly.   Keep in mind, this may result in slightly slower page loading.

To change your Google settings, just run a simple Google search, then:

  1. Click the gear icon in the top right corner of the results page
  2. Select “Search Settings”
  3. Under “Google Instant predictions”, select “Never show Instant results”
  4. Under “Results per page”, drag the box to 100 (Slower)
  5. Click Save at the bottom of the page.

Google search – estimated number of results

 An initial keyword search in Google will give you an estimated number of results that can be pretty daunting at first.

Something to remember, however, is that this number rarely comes close to an accurate count of results after all is said and done.

One trick that we’ve found to get a better idea of what you can expect in terms of search results is to scroll down to the bottom of your results, and click on the highest numbered page available. Let’s try it with one of those site-specific searches we came up with earlier:

(“Apple Watch” | “Apple TV” | “AppleTV”) site:forbes.com | site:nytimes.com | site:recode.net

* This process is much easier if you adjust your search settings to view 100 results per page, rather than just 10 (see above)

Search with 243K results

Here you’ll be given an estimated 243,000 results…

YEP.

Scroll down, and if you’re viewing 100 results per page, you’ll see 8 pages of results.

Total number of pages in search results

Click through to that 8th page.

At the bottom of this last page of results, you’ll find a notice that looks something like:

Google results - repeat search with omitted results

Click on that repeat the search with the omitted results included link, and you’ll be taken back to the first page of results. Scroll down and click on the 8th page of results again, and you’ll find a few more results than you had before.

The top of the page will still read Page 8 of about 243,000 results, but in reality you’ll only have about 743 results. A far cry from 243,000, I’d say.

Try this with Google News results, and you’ll need to run through the same steps, but in the end you’ll get a number at the top of the page that accurately reflects the final count.

Page 1:  About 78,500 results (0.36 seconds)

Page 3: Page 3 of 261 results (0.24 seconds)

Google ‘Web’ vs. Google ‘News’ – set up your searches for optimal results

We like to treat all of our searches on a case-by-case basis to determine whether a Google ‘Web’ or a Google ‘News’ search would be more appropriate.

When we’re looking to find any and all mentions, a ‘Web’ search is preferred. A Google ‘News’ search is generally sufficient when you need high quality results and don’t need them to be comprehensive.

A more general search using Google Web will often yield a fair amount of junk, including obscure websites, reprinted articles, and “out-of-text” keyword mentions. These out-of-text mentions would be any mentions outside of the actual article text – so instances where the keyword is part of a headline for a related article from that website, a photo caption, or a comment made about the article. This may be alleviated by using the intext: search operator. Just be sure that your search is fairly simple as the intext: operator does not work well with more complicated queries. It can also be helpful to use Google filters to search by time period for more targeted results.

Google News results will include more relevant content from newsworthy sources. These results will be easier to filter through and will likely include only the mentions that you’d want to be aware of. Google News will, however, leave out mentions from smaller blogs and sources you may still want to keep on your radar. If you stick with the basic Google Web search, any articles from those smaller sites will always show up.

** Pro tip –

We’ve found that it’s best to run site-specific searches in Google ‘Web’ rather than Google ‘News’.

If you’re searching for articles from less prominent sites or blogs – maybe a college newspaper, a company blog, or a more obscure local news source – those sites may not be indexed in Google News at all if the site is not recognized as being credible or prolific enough.

If you’re searching in Google News but the site you’re searching for wouldn’t be indexed there – you won’t get any results.

Google Web Search - site specific search in Google News

These are the incomplete results to a site specific search found when searching Google ‘News’

Site Specific Search in Google 'Web'

These are the more comprehensive results to a site specific search found when searching Google ‘Web’

Explore in Depth links

After running an initial search in Google News, you’ll find clusters of results related to a particular story if that story is getting coverage with more than a few articles. For stories that have this ‘Explore in Depth’ link, you won’t always see all related articles on the initial page of search results – you’ll only see a few articles from top publications or those that are highly cited. You’ll sometimes need to click on this Explore in Depth link (or open in a new tab) to view all related articles.

Explore In Depth

Something to keep in mind – the number of results you’ll find after clicking this link (70) will not accurately reflect the article count indicated in the Explore in Depth link (77 more articles).

Once you’re on this Explore in Depth page for a particular story, you may see a link that reads:

Message for Omitted Result

When you click on this link to view omitted results, the page will refresh and you might see reprints (or syndicated articles), or articles related to that news story that may not specifically mention your keywords.

Get Specific!

The more specific your keywords are, the stronger your searches will be.

Whenever you’re monitoring coverage for a new announcement – maybe a new product or recent hire – you’ll be more successful in tracking down any related coverage if you come up with a few specific searches using keywords related to the announcement.

In some cases, you’ll be sufficiently covered with a basic search for the company or brand name that’s released the announcement. Generally with announcements that get more traction, you’ll be able to access more results with a targeted search – and of course, you’ll be able to find coverage for this specific topic more quickly.

Let’s say you’re looking for coverage on a recent management shake-up at Microsoft.

You could start with a basic Google News search for Microsoft.

General Search for 'Microsoft'

If you click the Explore in Depth link for this story cluster, you’ll get a significant number of results for this story, and articles from top publications like The New York Times will be covered.

A more targeted search for “Stephen Elop” will give you a story cluster with what appears to be a similar batch of results. However, notice the Engadget article listed under Google News results below. You won’t see this article among full coverage results for the Microsoft story after clicking that Explore in Depth link.

Targeted Search for Stephen Elop

Clicking the Explore in Depth link in this search will give you some results that you won’t see in the story cluster for your ‘Microsoft’ search above. Generally, these will be articles from smaller outlets – but if your goal is to get the most comprehensive results, you’ll benefit from checking the more targeted search.

As we’ve stated before (and will again), your media monitoring efforts will always be more fruitful the more you diversify your tracking methods.

Bing Searches

As powerful as Google is for search, we’ve found that even the most thorough combination of searches will still miss some key results. Despite some limitations, Bing has proven to be an essential supplement for finding comprehensive results.  When searching in Bing we always use the ‘News’ filter rather than the ‘Web’ one.

apple_watch_Bing_News

Make sure to filter results by selecting ‘News’

Where Bing falls short

  • Bing doesn’t seem to yield results for searches with multiple keywords:

(“Apple Watch” | “Apple TV” | “AppleTV”)

  • Or searches for keyword results on multiple sites:

“Apple Watch” site:nytimes.com | site:wsj.com | site:recode.net 

  • Bing also doesn’t offer filtering to exclude certain sites – a trick that can be super time-saving in Google:

“Apple Watch” -site:youtube.com

  • Search results are limited to only the most recent coverage. You won’t be able to search for results older than 30 days. This applies to both Bing Web and News searches.

When to use Bing searches

  • Set up searches for your basic brand keywords to keep in your daily bookmarks.   When using their search operators don’t combine multiple operators in one search.
  • Check Bing when searching for coverage on a new product or recent announcement to find results that may not show up in a Google News search.
  • Though you may not be able to use many search operators or find results for more advanced searches, you’ll still want to use quotation marks for specific phrases.

We’ve found Bing News to be much less effective – and more temperamental – than Google.  Though it shouldn’t be relied on to find a comprehensive batch of results for a set of keywords, some basic searches should be included in your collection of daily bookmarks.

This is not ‘Set It and Forget It’

Add searches for new announcements and issues

Whenever a story is picked up by more than one publication, you should always take a moment to dig a little deeper.  Run a search that combines keywords specific to that story to find any key articles that may not have come up in your regular daily searches.   If the story may continue to reappear – make sure to bookmark your new searches.

Keep your site-searches updated

Sometimes websites will change a domain name or will add a host or subdomain. With site-specific searches set to track for a very specific domain, you may need to update these searches to reflect any changes in order to ensure that you’re receiving results for those sites.

For example:

In June 2014, cnnmoney.com changed domain names to money.cnn.com – and added sites for Fortune and Money Magazine digital properties at fortune.com and time.com/money

Keep your bookmarks organized

  • Where can you streamline your searches?
  • Can you consolidate any of your searches? Can you eliminate any searches that may be out-of-date?

Making these adjustments can save you time and frustration that can add up when you’re reviewing searches on a regular basis.

Brand Monitoring in Social Media

Twitter Searches

Twitter can be a very helpful tool to add to your brand monitoring platform.   How you use it will depend on the specifics of your brand.   While Twitter can and should be used to engage with your community, for the sake of this post we’ll be looking specifically at how Twitter can be used to find press coverage.

Just like Google, Twitter has its own advanced search and search operators:

Twitter Search Operators

Twitter Search Operators

When conducting a keyword search in Twitter, you’ll be given the following options to filter results:

  • Top (Tweets from top brands and users with a large following)
  • Live (All Mentions)
  • Accounts (Users that have that keyword in their Twitter handle or bio)
  • Photos
  • Videos
  • Under the More Options tab, you’ll have the option to filter results to include only the People You Follow or people Near You.

The More Options tab also includes a News filter, which you can use to see Tweets from news outlets on Twitter or Tweets that include links to News articles.

The News filter is certainly a good place to start, then a check of any results under the Top mentions tab to catch more notable mentions.

Keep in mind that Top mentions may not include some users that you may be interested in hearing from, so if you’re looking to get a more comprehensive look at results, you might want to scan the Live tab for any and all mentions – though you will usually need to do some filtering through (a large volume of) Retweets of unique mentions and less relevant mentions.

Undocumented Twitter Search Operators

For monitoring purposes there are a few undocumented search operators that are very helpful.

-RT – adding this to your search will eliminate all Retweets.

min_retweets:[number] – with this operator you can specify a minimum number of Retweets

min_faves:[number] – with this operator you can specify a minimum number of favorites

filter:news – this is similar to the filter:links operator but only returns results that link to a URL from top news outlets.

How can you incorporate Twitter searches as part of your brand monitoring platform?

A Twitter search for your brand or an executive set up to include any mentions under the Live tab (in other words, All mentions) can yield results that you wouldn’t find in search for press coverage – as well as links that may not yet be indexed in a Google News search.

Returning to the Apple Watch example, it wouldn’t be helpful to look for key news articles by scanning through every tweet that mentions Apple and watch.  However a search like:

apple watch -RT filter:news min_retweets:50

will provide much more targeted results.   This is looking for Tweets that are not Retweets, contain a link to a story from a newsworthy source, and have been Retweeted at least 50 times.  The results of this search are much more manageable to filter through and will definitely flag key articles.

Topsy

Another way to monitor for links shared on Twitter is to use Topsy.com, where you can enter a basic search to find sharing stats for a specific topic and filter your results to include links only.

One drawback to using Topsy is that you’ll only be able to review up to 100 results, when you might see an estimated number of results in the thousands.

Topsy Search for "Apple Watch"

 

Topsy will also identify which tweets are coming from users that they consider to be influential.   This can be helpful to identify the potential for a story to spread and see which influencers are engaging with your brand.

Overall Twitter is a great supplemental resource for brand monitoring.   Though powerful, it’s not ideal as a comprehensive solution.  However, the right searches can help alert you to important stories with a high level of engagement.

Putting it all together

Now that you have all the tools – here’s an example of the monitoring searches we put together for our own brand.

Step one: Generic Google alerts

Google Search 1:   General Search for your “Brand” 
                            (“Report Mule” | ReportMule)
*For this search we include the name Report Mule with and without a space to account for different possible variations.

Google Search 2: Search for your “Brand” and “Executive” while excluding sites where your own content appears –
                              (“Report Mule” | ReportMule) (“Christophe Abiragi”) –site:reportmule.com –site:itkinfo.com

Google Search 3:   Search for your “Brand” and “Industry Keywords” while excluding sites where your own content appears 

(“Report Mule” | ReportMule) (“media monitoring” | “DIY reports” | “clip reports” | “news briefs” | “measurement” | “PR analysis”) –site:reportmule.com –site:itkinfo.com

Google Search 4: Search for your brand in key publications

(“Report Mule” | ReportMule) site:prweek | site:adage.com | site:spinsucks.com | site:prdaily.com | site:techcrunch.com | site:pandodaily.com | site:businessinsider.com  | site: sethgodin.com | site: thehubcomms.com

* Don’t forget about the 32 word limit for each search. For publication specific searches you’ll probably only get 8 to 10 per search.

Bing News Search 1: “Report Mule”

Bing News Search 2: ReportMule

Twitter Search 1: “Report Mule” filter:links

Twitter Search 2: “ReportMule” filter:links

Here’s an example of a more extensive set of searches for a brand like Apple:

bookmarks folder for Apple search

 

What to do with your links

When we first started we typically would take these links and copy them to a Word doc, manually formatting each article into a standard format that the recipient preferred.   This process was tedious and redundant, but we couldn’t find anything that was customizable enough to generate the exact reports that we needed. So we built Report Mule.   Originally it was just for our own internal use, but now we’re excited to share the program with other people that handle brand monitoring the same way we do.

Using the program – we enter each link into the input form. The program automatically brings in a lot information based just on the link. In most cases this includes the headline, publication name, date, author, text, publication impression numbers, and social sharing stats from Facebook and Twitter. Any information that doesn’t come in automatically is easily entered manually.

Report Mule Input Form

Report Mule Input Form

If part of your brand monitoring also involves analytics work, you can also track custom metrics that you define (Sentiment analysis, Publication tier, PR Campaign, etc.).

Once you’re done inputting all of your articles, the Mule handles the busy work of formatting, letting you generate Word docs in your specific format, and Excel files for your analytics.

As part of our free trial we’ll help you customize your account to match any report format you currently use, but here are a couple of basic samples to check out.

If you’ve made it this far

…We admire your stamina.

We hope that you’ve been able to pick up a few new ways to strengthen and streamline your research methods. There’s a lot more where this came from (if you can handle it) –

For more research and monitoring goodness including best practices for advanced searches, social media tracking, and tips on our favorite tools to optimize your workflow – join our email list.

We tried to make this guide easy to follow – but if you want some professional help setting up your monitoring platform we offer consulting services as well as ongoing monitoring solutions.