Setting up advanced searches

This post by Sam Hand follows on from her post on Social Media Monitoring – Part One.

Our client informed us that there was a new objective for social media monitoring. They were getting involved in a global event and wanted to be able to monitor:

  • when specific people or organisations mentioned the event or a related keyword, and
  • when anyone else mentioned the same specific people or organisation, together with the same set of related keyword

We had around six weeks to work out the following things:

  • how to set up these more complex searches in Raven Tools
  • how we could filter and find mentions by specific people
  • how to prove that it worked

How do you test?

Our first challenge was ‘how do you test that the searches will work?’ We only had one search working so far and that was a very simple one. We wanted to test and check that:

  • posts by a specified author were shown in our Raven reports
  • keywords were returned in the search results
  • it’s possible to combine keywords to form a search phrase in Raven

Once we’d figured that out, we’d need to test whether Raven could report on the two things combined: posts by specific authors… containing specific keywords!

The problem is you can’t force someone who you want to track, to post something. And you have no idea when that someone might post. So just how were we going to test on such a tight set of criteria?

We decided that the best, and perhaps most obvious, way to get round this would be to create a test Facebook page and a test Twitter account. We could then decide on some search terms, create a few searches and then post and tweet away.

I’d spotted that Raven allows you to enter an author into the advanced settings within a search, and I hoped this would make finding posts etc really easy. Unfortunately I quickly discovered that you could only set up one unique search term, even if the authors were different. This meant putting the author’s name into the search itself.

In Raven, a search term can have multiple ANDs and ORs, although AND is implied by a space. We set up our search in the following format, but tested all permutations of the keywords and author:

Author keyword OR keyword (e.g CicadaTesting sausages OR marmalade)

A search in Raven can also include phrases and these can be set up using “.” – e.g “coffee and doughnuts.”

Setting up a test Facebook account for our Raven searches

Some of the searches we set up worked within minutes and others never returned any data. But what we quickly noticed was that, although Tweets came through most of the time, NONE of our Facebook posts ever made it into Raven.

We spent some time trying to find out why this was. Social Mention was useful here as it produced results straight away when we did a simple search with it (Raven can take a bit of time for data to get pulled through).

None of the posts came through in Social Mention either, so I checked on the post privacy – all were set as Global. I did a search directly in Facebook, nothing returned.  The Facebook API was found and a search done there, still nothing so I asked Raven who were unable to see either so I am still none the wiser as to why these posts never displayed.

Creating searches in Raven Tools

After testing for around a week we decided that we should just go for it and create the actual searches and see how we got on. We were delighted to see that some, not all, searches were pulling results and that the results were sensible.

When I contacted Raven about the Facebook issue we ended up looking at some of the searches that were not pulling results.

Initially it looked like I might have set up the search term incorrectly. In the end though it seemed that Raven’s search function sometimes gets confused about what you are asking and just changing the structure of the search can help. For example, using ” ” around a term that you want search for as a whole, including the author along with the key words, can be helpful.

End result: happy client

In the end most of our search terms pulled results and provided plenty of information for our client, leaving them lots to look through after the event.

Although Raven worked it would be interesting to see how other tools compare and, next time we get a social monitor project, I hope to get the chance to trial a few others.