What is social media listening, and how to use it?

By August 10, 2017

As we know already, social media isn’t just a platform to broadcast out. As an enterprise, being successful on social media is all about reaching the right audience at the right time with the right content. If you’re not listening to your audience, engaging in conversations and adding value to them, why should they listen to what your brand has to say?

What is social media listening?

Social media listening is the process of proactively searching social media channels for mentions of a specific keyword or phrase, such as a brand name, a person, product or service. Once you begin listening effectively, you can begin to analyse what is being said, draw insights from it, and use it to your advantage.

Social media listening is slightly different from social media monitoring. Monitoring is about measuring engagement in the form of @mentions, comments or retweets across your social networks. Listening is about finding conversations that are relevant to you, that might or might not include your brand’s @handle, and then analysing the content and the timing etc.

Interestingly, social listening tools were first used by PR and Communications teams to help find the early signs of potential crises. It was afterwards that Marketing teams saw the value and started using listening to help improve marketing campaigns and uncover new opportunities to engage with their target audience.

7 ways to use social media listening

Social Media Listening Example

Here’s our list of 7 ways your organisation can utilise social media listening to help improve the customer experience, inform management decision-making and even shape future business strategy:

Social customer service

We live in an always-on world and end-users increasingly expect quick responses 24/7 and 365 days a year. 42% of customers now expect a response on social media within 60 minutes! By tracking your inbound customer service enquiries you can ensure that you are acknowledging positive customer comments and responding to negative customer enquiries to resolve the issue. Importantly, you can listen out for questions that do not @mention your organisation or where your company name spelled incorrectly.

Organisations that embrace social customer service can manage eight times more customer enquiries than traditional telephone customer support, streamlining the process for customers and delivering efficiency savings for your organisation.

Competitor monitoring

The public nature of social media provides us with a fantastic opportunity to track the conversations that our competitors are having and identify how customers perceive their products and services. Using this intelligence can help to shape your future marketing messages, ensuring that you keep the competitive advantage.

For example, you can listen specifically for all retweets that your competitor receives to understand what type of content is performing best for them, and then use that information to help guide your own social content plan.

Engagement Opportunities

Recent research by Software Advice shows that only 5% of social media users would be uncomfortable with a brand reaching out directly to them on social. As a social media or marketing manager, listening to the words and phrases that your target audience are using in their messages means you can publish content that resonates better with them and engage better with their social media posts.

Hilton Hotels is a great example of this, where they actively listen for phrases on Twitter such as “where should I go on vacation”, and then they respond to those messages with helpful suggestions and links to some of their own destinations.

Identify new Sales Leads

Another valuable application of social media listening is to monitor keywords and phrases that your potential customers might be using. Take the example of one UK-based leisure centre tracking the phrase “need a gym buddy” on Twitter, that was posted by users within a five-mile radius of their location. In this example, they picked up a match from Martin, the leisure centre then responded inviting Martin to join Joe and Sarah in the gym that morning for a free trial. Martin then visited the centre, had a great experience, and ended up purchasing a gym membership!

Monitor brand advocates & social media influencers

Social media listening can be a great way to identify customers who are there to support your brand and act as brand advocates. It is important to identify and reward these customers as they may become valuable in the event of a crisis, stepping in to protect your business with a credible and authentic voice.

Reputation Management & Feedback

Listening to organic social media conversations about your brand, product or service is a credible and authentic way to gain real insight into your customers’ perceptions of your business. Identifying all of these posts and comments is the first step to help rectify these recurring problems or opinions about your brand online that can otherwise be easily missed.


What is social media listening?

Last but not least, being able to analyse data from social media listening enables you to see key trends and draw new insights such as gaps in your product or service delivery. These insights provide a unique insight that can help other areas of the business besides Marketing, such as Management, Sales, Customer Service or even R&D.

How to start listening on social media

Below are a few suggestions to help you get started identifying relevant keywords and themes to listen out for on social media:

  • Brand name mentions (not just @mentions) and don’t forget to include common misspellings too!
  • Key product or service names.
  • Competitor brand names and products.
  • Industry buzzwords.
  • CEO and other key stakeholders from within your organisation.
  • Key influencers/media partners from your industry.
  • Branded and unbranded hashtags linked to your organisation and/or industry.

Once you start embedding social media listening into your strategy, be sure to employ a social media management platform like CrowdControlHQ to streamline the process.


Leave a Reply