Constructing a Good Filter

I have a secret to tell you. Syften supports some advanced search options and quite a number of communities... But really, 90% of your value will come from Reddit threads where someone mentioned your competitor.

Read along, let me show you.

Scenario: you're competing with YAMM

Every product has competitors. If yours doesn't, then I pray for you. So let's pretend that you're competing with, Yet Another Mail Merge. How could you use Syften to find more customers online?

Initial research

Syften is mostly a configure-once-and-forget type of tool. But it's only as powerful as your filters. You'll have to put in an hour or two of research to figure out the best ones. And the best ones are your competitors.

I did over 50 calls helping my customers with setup. Usually, they thought they had maybe three or four competitors. But after we started digging, it turned out it's more like 30-40.

Let’s do a couple of Google searches. All of these queries will be limited to - for our use case it will be sufficient and it will make our process simpler.

Let's start by searching for our biggest competitor, yamm:

First search - a dud.

Oh, there are plenty of YAMMs out there. These are junk results, none of them are relevant. Let's try

Second search - a dud.

Junk again. Google is trying to be smart, it's ignoring the .com part. Let's try putting it in double quotes:

We have something.

There we go, perfect! Although that yielded only 6 results, we can already tell that using will be a very valuable Syften filter. But there is plenty of work ahead. Let's open each result in a new tab and go through them, seeing what we can learn.


Two insights here, people sometimes use the phrase Yet Another Mail Merge, and Mailmeteor is another competitor. Let's save both of these for a later investigation.

Let's continue looking through the conversations.


What a gold mine. We found five more competitors here. Let's write them down:


What if these aren't direct competitors? It doesn't matter how direct they are, let's use this definition for competition: "if you grow, they shrink".

Usually self-promoting on Reddit results in a ban. But in a thread like this, where people are sharing product recommendations, you can go ahead.

By using Google we're looking at old, inactive threads. But if there were threads in the past that would have been of interest, then we can expect similar ones to come up in the future. Let’s make sure that this time we won’t miss them. Let's continue reading the conversations we've opened.


Here we can find these:


So many, and this process should be repeated for all of them. It can get overwhelming, I know. But it will pay dividends in the future. I can track 16% of my paying customers to replies I made in conversations like these.


Look at the Templify guy at the bottom. Sure, he's early stage, but somehow he's finding these discussions. Don't ignore him, add Templify to your list. In Syften you can also track individual users. If you want, you can track all of his activity. Here is a Syften filter that could achieve that: author:Serg-L4B5.


Oh, "pairing it with Text Blaze"? By monitoring for our competitor YAMM, we've discovered a partnership opportunity!


A word of warning about this one. It might be tempting to listen for keywords like email marketing. And that filter would have found this comment indeed. But also it would have found a thousand others that are irrelevant. Years of experience, please trust me on this. Note that this comment can also be found by using competitor names like Mailchimp and Mailer Lite. Really, stick to competitor names only.


For the sake of discussion, let's assume you're the founder of Gmass and one day Syften notifies you about a comment like this, where someone recommended your stuff. One no-brainer thing to do is to upvote it. No value in people recommending your stuff if it's buried at the bottom of the conversation. Ask your team and friends for upvotes too, push it to the top. You can also DM the guy who is thankful for the recommendation, and send an email to the recommender, showing your gratitude.

Step one is done. Next step turned out to be a perfect Syften filter. So let's add it, without the part.

Added to Syften.

Now let's repeat the process for the potential keywords we found thus far:

Yet Another Mail Merge

The search continues...

The search continues.

62 results, versus the 6 results we got from "". Time to get to work...

Dictionary words

You'll notice that two of the products were named Outreach and Woodpecker. These are dictionary words, bound to bring in tons of junk results. In these cases, you always want to go with the domain name: and You can also limit the search to very relevant subreddits only: woodpecker.

The art of helping people solve problems

So, you did your research, you found good keywords, and you converted them to Syften filters. You waited a few days and got your first result. How should you reply?

Seth Godin, in his excellent book This Is Marketing, gives us this definition of marketing:

Marketing is the generous act of helping someone solve a problem. Their problem. It’s a chance to change the culture for the better. Marketing involves very little in the way of shouting, hustling, or coercion. It’s a chance to serve, instead.

I'll leave you with that.

And as always, happy sifting!


  • Pick a competitor
  • If the results are junk, refine and repeat
  • If the results are relevant:
    1. Convert the Google search query into a Syften filter
    2. Open all of the Google results in new tabs. Go over them looking for competitor names. Add them to a list
  • Pick the first item off your list, repeat the process