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What Is Social Listening?

Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor

With social media listening, you can reach the right people at the right time with the right content.

  • Social listening is a process in which organizations take a macro overview of what customers are saying online about the brand and use the information to improve the business.
  • Social listening tools include Hootsuite, Buffer and HubSpot.
  • Social listening allows companies to track their overall brand health, create new campaigns and better engage with customers.

Social media is quickly becoming a one-stop shop for small businesses. You can market new products online, sell through Instagram, use it for customer service and listen to customers' opinions.

With social media listening, you can reach the right people at the right time with the right content.

Social media listening vs. social media monitoring

People often confuse social media monitoring with social listening and vice versa. While they are similar, they aren't the same. Taylor Kincaid, social media director at Online Optimism, says social media monitoring is responding to comments and questions on your social media profiles.

Think of social media monitoring as something you do daily, i.e., monitoring notifications to answer comments and questions. Social media listening, however, involves a macro view of what people are saying online.

"Social media listening and social media monitoring offers brands two distinct use cases," said Rachael Samuels, social media manager at Sprout Social. "We often say, 'Monitoring sees the trees; listening views the forest.'"

Social listening provides a broader view of industry trends and customer sentiment that may have a direct or indirect impact on a brand, said Samuels.

"It captures trends and brand opportunities that may have otherwise been overlooked … and, therefore, gets left out of the greater brand strategy," she said.

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Why is social media listening important, and how can businesses use it?

Social media listening is important – it gives you valuable insights about your brand, customers and industry. Once you identify trends online, you can tailor a strategy to align your products or services with these trends.

"This can involve creating content your customers want to consume, monitoring the brand health of your company or a competitor and using trends as inspiration for fresh marketing campaigns," said Emily McReynolds, social media manager at Passion Digital.

Here's how to use social media listening to promote your brand.

  • Learn how your audience behaves on different social channels. For example, you might notice your audience engages more with short-term content than long-form videos. Use this insight and modify your strategy accordingly. Instead of posting a long-form video, cut it up into more "bite-sized" content, said Kincaid. McReynolds agrees. "It is useful to analyze historical data to see what drives engagement and what doesn't, and create content based on this," she said. "Social listening also allows companies to monitor customer service mentions, which is important for brand image."

  • Track your overall brand health. Use social listening to determine how people perceive your brand overall. With this information, you can spot and address potential problems and sentiments.

  • Create new campaigns. Listening to conversations your customers are having about your brand identifies gaps and opportunities in the marketplace you can capitalize on.

Additionally, according to Hootsuite, three other benefits of social listening include:

    • Improved customer engagement: Another major benefit of social listening is that it allows companies to better engage with customers. For instance, if you see a customer has mentioned your company in a negative or positive light, you can either address their concerns or thank them for their comment.

    • Greater insights into crisis management: Another benefit of social listening is that it helps with crisis management. In other words, if there is a major issue that has gone viral on the web about your company, social listening allows you to view all the mentions and reach customers individually and/or en masse to address their concerns and tell them how your company will manage this matter moving forward.

    • Enhanced tracking of competitors: One major benefit of social listening is the ability to track competitors. This is important, because to remain successful, businesses must know where they stand in the market as a whole. Social listening allows you to see how other companies are being mentioned, and how the reception of your company's products and services fares compared to those of your competitors.

Social listening tools

To start using social media listening, many platforms offer tools and analytics. To learn more about social media marketing tools, read this Business News Daily guide. Here are some social listening tools you may want to consider using as part of your social media strategy:

    • HootsuiteHootsuite allows businesses to view all messages, comments and brand mentions across an array of social media platforms.

    • Buffer: Many businesses use Buffer because of its omnichannel approach; social media teams can easily access data and make changes to their campaigns and strategy to better engage with their target market.

    • HubSpot: HubSpot allows companies to build campaigns, share content, discover the best days and times to post, and they allow teams to automatically distribute content to an array of social media channels.

    • TweetReachTweetReach allows businesses to focus on their Twitter reach. Additionally, the tool can analyze how many Twitter accounts have reached your selected person, hashtag or keyword.

    • BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo allows companies to see the number of impressions and shares of content posted on a certain domain. Additionally, this tool also for managing a brand's Facebook page.
Image Credit: ViewApart / Getty Images
Business News Daily Editor
Business News Daily Editor,
Business News Daily Writer
Business News Daily was founded in 2010 as a resource for small business owners at all stages of their entrepreneurial journey. Our site is focused exclusively on giving small business advice, tutorials and insider insights. Business News Daily is owned by Business.com.