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Grow Your Business Social Media

What is Social Listening?

What is social listening
Credit: Vasin Lee/Shutterstock

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 even listen to customers' opinions.

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

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, is 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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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 that you can capitalize on.


To start using social media listening, platforms such as Hootsuite, Sprout Social and TweetReach offer tools and analytics. To learn more about social media marketing tools, read this Business News Daily guide.

Saige Driver

Saige Driver graduated from Ball State University in 2015 with a degree in journalism. She started her career at a radio station in Indiana, and is currently the social media strategist at Business News Daily. She loves reading and her beagle mix, Millie. Reach her by email, or follow her on Twitter.