What’s in a name? That which we call a Bose may go by another name in a tweet.

Think about it. Bose. If you were going to research consumers’ perceptions of this speaker manufacturer in Social Media, you would need to think about what possible names consumers might use for Bose. They might misspell it “Bowz” or “Boze.” They might refer to it as bose.com or @BoseService if they’re talking about it on Twitter. If they were feeling fancy, they might add some foreign characters such as Böse or Bosé.

Most Social Media research tools have some way to handle this. With our NetBase Insight Workbench, users can specify alternative brand names and terms to include or exclude in order to filter out the wrong meanings of ambiguous brand names such as Tide. Here are some useful tips and tricks we’ve learned that NetBase users can apply.

Identifying Alternative Brand Names

When thinking of alternative brand names, you can include:

  • The URL for the company (e.g., for Netflix, add netflix.com)
  • Common misspellings (e.g., for Barnes & Noble, add Barns & Noble, Barnes & Nobel, and Barns & Nobel). You can generate common and accidental variations on a name caused by misspellings and typos using a Misspelling Generator such as this one on SEOBook.
  • Fused names (e.g., for Burger King, add BurgerKing)
  • Twitter handles (e.g. for NetBase, add Net_Base)
  • Initials and acronyms. These are especially common in tweets: For example, Blackberry = BB, Civic = CVC. One catch is that the initials may apply to two brands, so think through the “include” or “exclude” terms to focus on the right brand. For example, BB can mean Blackberry or Best Buy.
  • All relevant #tags and @mentions. For example, for Pandora, add #pandora_radio or @pandora_radio.
  • Alternate names for a brand, such as Micky Dees, Micky D’s, and Mickey D’s for McDonald’s. This is an example of nicknames. My favorite example is Tarjay and Targhetto for Target. This is an interesting case because it’s not only nicknaming but also spelling variants/misspellings. Urbandictionary.com can be a good resource for identifying these “affectations.”
  • Using an apostrophe or not in a name makes a difference. (e.g. McDonalds and McDonald’s)
  • For a brand such as Windows 7, spell out the numeral: Windows Seven. In general, if there are symbols (numerals, ampersands, etc.), spell them out.
  • Alternative English spellings for a brand yield different results. For example, United Colors of Benetton spelled the British way is United Colours of Benetton.
  • Note, with NetBase it’s not necessary to do the dash and non-dash version of the name (e.g., Hewlett-Packard and Hewlett Packard are treated exactly the same).

Terms Determine Volume of Results

Here’s an example of the difference in search results depending on how you define your search terms.

When searching on “barnes and noble”:

  • With the main brand as “barnes and noble,” NetBase returns 289,843 sound bites.
  • With the addition of one alternative brand—barnes & noble—returns increase to 334,244.
  • But starting off with the main brand—barnes & noble (just using the ampersand)—returns only 44,648 sound bites (no signs of “Barnes and Noble” in these results, but there are other interesting results such as Barnes Noble).

Spending a little extra time up front and giving some thought to your search terms can help you capture more relevant sound bites, give you a more-comprehensive survey of consumer opinion, simplify and streamline your analysis, and increase your chances of deriving accurate insights from your raw results.