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A few good reasons to check out a social network’s advanced search function

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This post was written by Mirna Bard, a social media consultant, speaker, author and instructor of social media at the University of California at Irvine.

SmartPulse — our weekly nonscientific reader poll in SmartBrief on Social Media — tracks feedback from leading marketers about social media practices and issues.

Last week’s poll question: Do you use the advanced search functionality on social-networking sites?

  • No — I have never needed to use advanced search — 38.95%
  • I didn’t know social-networking sites had advanced search functionality — 33.68%
  • Yes — it helps me find relevant, real-time information — 27.37%

During a social media training session I was conducting a couple of weeks ago, I realized that in spite of the popularity of social media and the amount of people coaching others on the topic, the majority of business people still struggle with understanding how to leverage their time on social networking sites.

When I was demonstrating the advanced search functionality on LinkedIn, it seemed as if I handed all the trainees a million dollars. Clearly, it may be that we have done the same with this poll by creating awareness because more than 72% of respondents either never used advanced search or did not know it existed on social networking sites. Moreover, I found the percentage of people who said they had never had the need to use the advanced functionality to be remarkably high.

I don’t think I can live without the advanced search functionality on any of the major social networks. These features save me time and help me find precisely what I am searching for. As we all know, social networking sites are overflowing with information and trying to keep up with everything and everyone on these sites is almost impossible.

There are many reasons to use advanced search. Here are just a few:

  • Aids in easily narrowing down the audience you are searching for (i.e., location, language, profession, etc.). Thus, growing your network with the right people.
  • Assists in tracking breaking news in real-time or a specific time frame, and sometimes even by location
  • Facilitates competitor research
  • Tells you who has mentioned you on the site
  • Makes market research a lot easier and faster

So, for everyone who has never used advanced search, what are you waiting for? And, for those of you who have, how has advanced search assisted you?