A Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Listening

With over 4.1 billion internet users in the world and over 2.3 billion using the internet on their phones, a significant percentage of consumers are online at any given time. And, social media networks are the platforms of choice for people to share content and connect with each other.

There is so much data available on the internet, pertaining to online user behaviours and conversations, that it is a goldmine for businesses looking to gather audience insights. But, before we look into the type of insights you can gather, let’s take a moment to understand the scope of the online data that gets generated in just one minute.

Clearly, there is a lot of data available online, if only you know where to look and what to look for. The data generated by online consumer activities and interactions is an untapped resource that you can tap into with social media listening.

A Comprehensive Guide to Social Media Listening:

What is Social Media Listening?

Social media listening is the practice of analysing social media conversations about your brand, industry, or topic to gather insights. You can do this by monitoring and analysing social media messages, comments, posts, mentions, etc. on a specific topic or about your brand.

Businesses use this to monitor their online reputations and brand sentiment, keep updated on the latest industry trends, and gather competitive intelligence.

Why Use Social Media Listening?

Social media has become one of the biggest platforms for consumers to voice their opinions, share content, and start conversations. This provides brands with a singular opportunity to understand what people are saying about them and do a pulse check.

Here are some of the reasons why you should leverage social media listening:

  • You can gain customer insights from a wide audience covering all geographic locations and consumer demographics.
  • As people share honest opinions on social media, the insights gathered from there are more authentic than those collected by surveys.
  • It is a cost-effective way to get consumer insights as you can collect valuable data without much investment.
  • The insights gathered via social media listening can be used to fuel your future marketing strategies.
  • Social listening provides you with opportunities to engage in conversations about your brand on social media and interact with potential or existing customers.
  • It also helps you improve customer service by answering customer queries on social media or directing complaints to the customer service teams.

Type of Insights That You Can Gather

As discussed, social media listening can help you uncover valuable insights into what your audience thinks about your brand. It can also help you stay ahead of your competitors and leverage the latest industry trends before others do.

Here are some broad categories of the types of insights that you can gather from social media listening.

Brand Intelligence

You can monitor conversations about your brand and understand what people are saying about your brand or products.

Here are some types of insights you can gather about your brand:

  • Brand Sentiment - You can understand whether your brand sentiment is positive or negative. And, you can also see the trend of how your brand sentiment has changed over time.
  • Brand Mentions - You can identify people who mention your brand on social media and in what context. This is also a good way to find influencers who are already talking about your brand.
  • Campaign Performance - You can also understand how your marketing campaigns are performing by listening to conversations related to them. You can also track brand sentiment before and after a campaign, to see how well it performed.
  • Customer Feedback - Social media listening is a good way to collect honest customer feedback about your brand and products.

Industry Insights

You can use social media listening to learn about the latest industry trends and news. Here are the specific types of insights that you can gain via social listening.

  • Trend Analysis - You can identify the latest trends in your industry by listening to social media conversations.
  • Content Research - You can also find content and topic ideas depending on what your target demographics are interested in and talking about.

Competitive Intelligence

You can also leverage social media listening to stay updated on what your competitors are doing.

  • Competitor Benchmarking - Just like you gather insights about your brand, you can do the same for your key competitors and find out how they’re performing.
  • Marketing Ideas - You can also see which of your competitors’ campaigns are working and gather ideas for your next campaign.

Social Media Listening Tools

Now that you know what social media listening is and how it can benefit you, let’s discuss the ways to actually gather these insights. You can monitor social media by using social media listening or social media management tools.

Social media management tools perform a lot of other functions and provide social listening as one of the features. For more in-depth social media monitoring you should use specialised social media listening tools.

Here is a list of the five useful social media listening tools that you can consider for your business.

1. Keyhole

Keyhole is a powerful social media listening tool that can help you listen in on social conversations around your brand or industry. It can track social media conversations around a specific hashtag or keyword, across various platforms like Instagram and Twitter. 

So, it is more useful than tools that can track only brand mentions as this tool lets you stay updated on what’s happening in your niche. It also lets provides useful features like campaign and event monitoring that tells you how people are responding to these. Another useful feature of this multi-functional social media listening tool is that it can also find relevant influencers for your brand.

Overall, it is one of the best social media listening tools and has numerous features that can meet all of your social media monitoring needs.

2. Awario

This is a social media and web monitoring tool that is useful for a small business as well as an enterprise. You can use this to track and monitor your brand mentions and mentions of your competitors. You can also use it to keep updated on industry trends.

This tool also has other uses like finding plagiarised copies of your content and finding mentions where there is no backlink to your website. The latter is especially useful in link-building as it identifies opportunities to ask for a link.

Another useful feature is an add-on social selling tool that helps you identify prospective customers. It does so by identifying people who are asking for product recommendations for a product like yours.

This is a relatively new tool but has some promising features that made it a part of our list.

3. BrandWatch

This is a full-fledged enterprise-level social media monitoring platform with a lot of functionalities. Unlike other social listening tools on this list, BrandWatch also provides powerful social media analytics.

Some of the more complex features that it provides include image recognition, audience demographics and insights, content ideas on trending topics, etc. It scours for insights across all social media platforms, news websites, blogs, and a lot more.

Moreover, it has a built-in data visualisation platform called Vizia that lets you make customised, visually-appealing insights reports. You can also export the data from dashboards directly into PowerPoint presentations to present to your clients or team.

4. Mention

Mention is a social media monitoring tool that searches for brand mentions and keywords in real-time. You can also set up daily alerts and get all the information from the last 24 hours at once. The custom plans also provide you with access to historical data from all of its social media monitoring activities.

Apart from real-time brand monitoring, Mention can also track your competitors’ mentions and provide competitive intelligence. In the Insights Centre tab, you can see all the data in one place and create custom reports per your preference.

Another useful feature of this tool is that it helps you find industry influencers that you can reach out to for brand collaborations. You can find influencers that are already interested in your niche or are talking about your brand and thus, are easier to collaborate with.

5. TweetDeck

This is a social media listening tool designed specifically for Twitter. You can use it to manage multiple Twitter accounts and monitor brand mentions for all these accounts. You can not only monitor brand mentions but can also reply to tweets and engage with your audience. The best part is that you can do so for all your Twitter accounts from a single dashboard.


Social media listening provides a great opportunity for businesses to gain valuable customer insights. On social media, customers share their honest opinions and therefore the information gathered from there is unbiased and authentic.

Social media listening tools provide an easy way to monitor social conversations and track your online reputation and brand mentions. You can also use these for campaign and event monitoring, understanding your audience, and finding influencers.

Overall, social media listening has numerous benefits for your business and you should try it if you haven't yet.

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.