Best Practices in HR
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Sam Richter
  May 20, 2015

Social Search for Sales Intelligence

Searching social media is a great way to identify what’s going on inside a company, what an individual is up to, and what trends are shaping an industry. People often share “inside information” via their social media sites — for example, new products being developed, upcoming conferences, industry research, etc. — that a company would not normally post to its website.

As the majority of social media sites are on the “Invisible Web,” meaning, you need to register and sometimes “friend” an individual to access information, the best way to search social media is using the search tools available within each site. Unfortunately, this can be very time consuming.

There are, however, a number of social media search engines that allow you to simultaneously search publicly accessible posts from multiple sites. If you enjoy a Google-like interface and are familiar with using Boolean in your search queries, give the “Google Social Media” Search Engine a try.

In one simple search, you can access posts on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest. You can choose any combination of sites or all of them if you prefer. The results are displayed in an easy-to-read column format so in a matter of seconds, you can find results for each social account (in each column, make sure to scroll down past the ads to see the what’s posted, and in the overall site, make sure to scroll down on the full page to see all of your chosen sites).

Try entering a person’s name, a company name, or a broad industry topic. Use Boolean to expand or narrow your search. For example, make sure to put proper nouns (names, company names, job titles, etc.) and even industry phrases within quotation marks (click for an example). Use the minus sign directly next to a word to remove that word from the results (click for an example). Use the OR to expand your search results (click here for an example). And build a complex Boolean query to really narrow your intelligence gathering (click here for an example).

Spend a few minutes on Google Social Search prior to any sales call and find an interesting piece of information about the other person that you can use as a conversation starter, and/or as fodder to ask more in-depth questions. REMEMBER…when the first words out of your mouth are about the person and/or something you know he or she passionately cares about, then you gain permission to ask the next question.

Side Note: Know More! fan Lee Levitan shared another great use for Google Social Search — when screening a job candidate. Prior to an interview, run a search on the individual. You’ll quickly get an understanding of the candidate’s likes/dislikes and more important, if he or she understands how to appropriately act and represent him or herself in a digital world.

Now you know how to find the information via social media quickly, now that you Know More!