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Boolean Operator.

How to use boolean operators to create your queries.


Boolean is a subset of algebra used for defining true/false statements. The use of Boolean operators will allow you to build far more precise queries, resulting in more accurate results.



When refining your queries in Listen, you will have four Boolean operators at your disposal. These are:

‘ ‘: A space is generally used to join different kinds of terms when you are using other boolean operators with or without “…” and both of them have to appear in the mention. E.g.  “green apples” “red apples” will return only the mentions where both “green apples” and “red apples” were found.

: is used to exclude mentions with single or multiple terms. E.g. “green apples” NOT cake NOT pie will exclude all mentions of “green apples”, where the terms cake or pie were also found in the mention. Notice that if you wish to exclude more than one term you should always use the operator NOT in front of every additional term.

OR: is generally used to join similar, equivalent, or synonymous concepts. E.g. “green apples” OR “red apples” will return mentions where either “green apples” or “red apples” were found. This operator can also be used to include known misspellings of a brand or product name in your results. 

Additionally there’s the  “…”: operator:

You can use quotation marks (“text”) to make an exact phrase query. The query will search for exact matches to the phrase you type within the quotation marks. In case of an Instagram query with an exact match, the query builder will automatically merge the phrase within the quotation marks into a single hashtag, e.g. “green apples” will become #greenapples. This operator is also useful, if you want to search for a word that should not be a part of other words. If you e.g. want to search for the word air but want to avoid search results that contain words like airport, you would need to include spaces within the quotation marks. In this example the query must be ” air “.

Note – Boolean operators must be in all CAPS.



Using the Boolean operators, the queries can be filtered and refined as demonstrated below.

In the case of iPad Air, we configure each topic step-by-step.


Topic: #ipadair

To begin, you might want to only search for hashtag mentions of this product. Simply type in the product name with a # in front of it. No boolean operator is used in this query.

Query: #ipadair
Example result: “I love my new #ipadair!”


Topic: Product with brand

The goal is to filter for mentions with both the product and the brand name in it. In this example we are therefore using the boolean operator “ ”.

Query: apple ipad air
Example result: “I love apple products, that’s why I am getting the ipad air for xmas xx :o”

However – Since there are no further limitations, It might also show results like the following that you did not want to show up in the results:

“I have just been in the apple store to get my macbook air repaired. Now I can only work from my old ipad.”

To avoid vague or unrelated mentions, you should refine the query with “…” to search for the exact match like this:

Query: apple “ipad air”
Example result: “I love my Apple iPad Air!!!”


Topic: Product

In case you only want to filter for specific product mentions that consist of more than one word, simply choose the “..” as Boolean operators, so the words will be searched for as a phrase. Note that you will receive hashtag mentions of this from Instagram, if it is the exact match.

Query: “iPad air”

Example result: “I love looking at photos on my new iPad Air!”


Topic: Tagline

You might have a certain slogan og tagline for your new product or campaign that you want to catch mentions of. In our example we are entering the following query used by Apple in their advertisement for iPad Air for this topic:

Query: “the power of lightness”

Example result: “You can really see the power of lightness with the new iPad Air. The screen is so bright!”


Topic: Pricing

For many companies it is essential to get feedback from the customers regarding the pricing of the product. We have therefore chosen “Pricing” as another topic for the project. A query for this topic, where you include the product name and relevant words could look like this:

Query examples:

1) “iPad air” affordable

2) “iPad air” expensive

Example result: “The iPad Air is so cool! I wish I had one, but it is too expensive for me.”


Hot tips:

These are words, which are so ordinary that they would give you an overload of irrelevant results. Stop-words include: the, a, and, etc. You can however use stop-words in exact match queries (“wallace and gromit”). So if you are looking for mentions of the band The Clash, you could create an exact match query like this: “the clash”.

Short & Precise
Try to keep your Boolean queries short and to the point. It’s better to build two precise queries and compare them than to build a long and complicated query. 

  • Short and precise queries minimize the risk of errors within the query.
  • Short and precise queries will enhance benchmark capabilities.