Social listening

Social listening refers to analyzing the conversations and trends happening not just around your brand, but around your industry as a whole, and using those insights to make better marketing decisions.

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Social listening helps you understand why, where and how these conversations are happening, and what people think—not just when they’re tagging or mentioning your brand.

This helps you form future campaigns, improve content strategy and messaging, outpace your competition, construct an effective influencer program and even build more impactful brand partnerships.

Social monitoring vs. social listening

Both social listening and social media monitoring are critical for brands, and there’s not a totally black and white distinction between the two–it’s a spectrum spanning the two. Monitoring tells you what, listening tells you why. 

Social media monitoring involves tracking and responding to all of the messages sent to or about a business or any of their products and services. Listening is about understanding the bigger picture.

Why social listening matters

If you don’t use social media listening, you’re leaving a lot of valuable insights on the table.

In fact, you might be missing out on a big piece of insight about your brand that people are actively discussing. You always want to know what people are saying about you.

Your customers are telling you what they want from your brand. If you care about them, you need to take a look at the insights you might gain from social listening.

Here are a few ways social listening can help you:

  • Engage with customers. Social listening gives you opportunities to engage with your customers about your brand. It’s not always direct replies either. Sometimes they spot a trend and address it right away.
  • Manage crises. Engagement is good—but only when it comes with positive social sentiment. Social listening allows you to track that sentiment in real time. That way you can see what posts are doing well for your brand, and which ones aren’t. Social listening also helps you address PR disasters before they get out of hand. 
  • Track your competitors. Social listening is more than understanding what people say about you. You also want to know what they say about your competitors. This gives you important insights into where you fit in the marketplace. You will also learn what your competitors are up to in real-time. Social listening allows you to find out about these new opportunities and threats as they happen, so you can plan and respond accordingly.
  • Find pain points. Listening to conversations around the industry uncovers a TON of insight about what’s working and what’s not working for your customer. 
  • Discover new sales leads. It’s a truth universally acknowledged that customers love it when you solve their problems. It’s also a universally acknowledged truth that customers hate being sold to right away. Social listening helps you develop relationships with potential customers in your industry who you can nurture into relationships for social selling. Reach out, make connections, and share helpful information. This will help establish your brand as the best resource when it comes time to make a purchase decision.
  • Identify influencers and advocates. Listening to social conversation about your industry will give you a sense of who the important influencers are. These are important people to connect with. As the term implies, they can have a huge influence on how their followers and fans feel about you—or your competitors.
About the Author
With over 15 years in content marketing, Werner founded Influencer Marketing Hub in 2016. He successfully grew the platform to attract 5 million monthly visitors, making it a key site for brand marketers globally. His efforts led to the company's acquisition in 2020. Additionally, Werner's expertise has been recognized by major marketing and tech publications, including Forbes, TechCrunch, BBC and Wired.