A guide to social listening


With so much focus on what your brand should be posting on social media, social listening is often a little neglected or forgotten about completely.

What this means is that businesses are missing out on invaluable, easily accessible market research. There are conversations taking place across all social platforms related to your brand and industry, and a lot to be learned from listening to these.

Follow our guide to social listening and you’ll soon see the value social listening can add to your marketing strategy.

What is social listening?

Social listening means monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, products, services, competitors and anything else related to your industry.

Chances are you’re already keeping on top of mentions where people have tagged your brand’s handle, but social listening goes beyond this, looking out for hashtags and keywords that would not land in your notifications tab.

And it’s not simply a case of monitoring these keywords. A huge part of social listening is analysing what you find out, and using this analysis to improve your brand.

Why is social listening important?

There is so much to be gained from social listening that can benefit both you and your customers; we could list reason after reason for why it’s important. For now, here are just three!

New content and campaign ideas

The more time you spend getting to know your customers, the easier it becomes to tailor your social content to them, as well as wider marketing campaigns.

social listening for content ideas

Social listening is your key to this, unlocking everything from commonly asked questions among your fanbase to the language they use. You can then incorporate what you find into your content, whether it’s answering those common questions, including phrases you know your target audience are using, or any other response to the findings you’ve gleaned from monitoring customer conversations.  

For example, say you notice there is a product people are requesting feedback or samples about time and again. This could help you decide that giving away the product as a social media competition prize will generate a great buzz and is worth trying out.

Improve customer experience

Your day-to-do monitoring of social interactions will likely involve solving individual customers issues and handling feedback. Where social listening can improve customer experience is by helping you evaluate the bigger picture.

social listening to improve customer experience

Which issues are being raised by customers repeatedly? Are there certain times of the day, week, month or year when customers experience more or fewer issues?

A watchful eye on keywords can help you answer questions like the above, and decide what action needs to be taken to resolve customer frustrations in the long term.

Stay a step ahead of competitors

What’s working for your competitors and what’s not? What products or services are your target audience craving that no one in the industry is yet providing?

Again, these are the kind of questions social listening can answer. Integral to being an industry leader is identifying what your customers are looking for next and delivering that to them. You’ll uncover this by sifting through mentions of competitors and industry terms, as well as your own brand.

How to start social listening?

The first thing to do is identify the handles and keywords you’re going to monitor. These should include a mix of the following:

  • Your own brand name, handles and product names
  • Common misspellings of your brand terms
  • Key staff members
  • Campaign hashtags and taglines
  • Industry terms
  • Competitor names, handles, hashtags and products
  • Industry influencers and thought leaders
  • Networking hours

There are two software tools we use and recommend for social listening: Sprout Social and Tweetdeck.

Through each of these you can monitor your chosen keywords all in one place, and interact with mentions that come in. Tweetdeck is Twitter’s own dashboard tool for managing multiple accounts, and columns can be set up for following activity of individual keywords, hashtags and handles.

Sprout Social has the added bonus of being able to social listen on Instagram as well as Twitter. You can choose ‘brand keywords’ to follow for each. Plus, it has sophisticated reporting features that conveniently breakdown data collected from your social listening.

Sprout Social for social listening

How much time you dedicate to social listening is going to depend on your business’ resources. Could someone check keywords daily, put together a weekly or monthly report on findings, and use these to enhance strategy?

If you want to benefit from social listening but don’t think you’ll have the time in-house, then feel free to get in touch to see how our team can help.

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