Social Media Listening

Monitoring the social media buzz about your brand and your competitors yields real-time, actionable insights.

What is social media listening?

Social media listening, sometimes referred to as social media monitoring, is the practice of actively observing what is being said about your brand, your competitors, and your industry on social media channels, such as Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. Social media listening could entail any number of the following activities:

     – Customer relationship management
     – Brand reputation management   
     – Competitor analysis
     – Crisis or issue management
     – Innovation and product management
     – Market research and trend identification
     – Marketing campaign monitoring
     – Influencer identification

Being tuned into the social buzz helps marketers and service professionals stay current, and can alert them to up-and-coming trends that could affect their business. While social data provides insights into only a subset of your target audience, it can be powerful as a leading indicator and when combined with customer data from a CRM system.

The value of social listening

Only 24% of brands say they do social listening, according to Business2Community. With such a small percentage of companies venturing into the social listening realm, there is a huge opportunity for brands to experiment with a growing trend. But many brands are daunted by the extremely noisy environment. To understand just how much social media noise we’re talking about, take a look at how much social activity occurs on average every minute of every day:

     – 510 Facebook comments posted
     – 293,000 Facebook statuses updated
     – 136,000 photos uploaded to Facebook
     – 347,200 tweets sent
     – 48,600 posts to Instagram

With such a high volume of social interactions, it’s no wonder that many brands are hesitant to dip their toes in the social listening waters. But by using the right social media monitoring tools, the noise can be filtered out to isolate the posts and comments that need action or can inform strategic decision-making.

Social listening and customer engagement

Social networks provide a forum for public dialog between companies and customers, facilitating a new level of customer engagement. Over the years, more and more customers have embraced its potential to connect with companies when they have a question or complaint. This can be both a blessing and a curse. On one hand, direct communication with customers provides many benefits. But, customers who complain using social media channels have often already been failed by another channel. 

When customers fail to get a resolution via email or phone, they turn to social media, thinking, “They’ll answer me if I publicly shame them into doing so.” This leads to heightened negativity and anger in social support channels. For example, about 80% of customer service-related tweets are negative or critical in nature – and on average, those tweets are seen by more than one million people each week. That’s a lot of exposure, especially for an interaction you would probably prefer to keep private.

As a provider of social care, your objective needs to be to identify which comments need your attention and address them quickly. Even though customers expect a social media response within an hour, 58% of consumers who have tweeted about a bad experience never received a response from the offending company! So many companies are getting social care wrong – brands that do it right have a real opportunity to shine. First, brands need to be able to effectively react to customer questions and complaints via social media. Laying a foundation for social care allows brands to move to the next phase of social engagement: proactive communication. Social media listening identifies appropriate instances for proactive engagement with customers. To learn more about how to do social care right, check out our page about Social Media and Customer Service.

Social media monitoring for competitive and market research

Social media tracking has the power to deliver market insights “straight from the horse’s mouth.” So it makes sense that companies make use of social media intelligence in addition to their traditional market research efforts. Social media monitoring tools can help marketers better understand the competitive landscape and the needs of their target audiences. An analysis of social data can distill thousands of conversations into a handful of actionable insights. For example, social listening could reveal a trend in customers using your product in a different way than you imagined, opening up new audiences and messaging opportunities. Or social media analytics tools could uncover negativity around a new product released by your competitor, giving you insight into how to compete with them.


Gathering market insights from social media tracking has the advantage of taking place in the moment. Social media happens in real time, telling you how your audience feels right now – as opposed to satisfaction scores, sales figures, and surveys, which indicate what happened in the past. Having a real-time pulse on your customers and the market proves incredibly valuable to strategic planning. 

Social listening technology

Providing social care and deriving market insight from social media tracking are both impossible without the right technology. Two main factors come into play: filtering out the social noise to identify top priorities and automating the gathering of insights from social data. Advanced social media monitoring software uses natural language processing to understand unstructured language, even slang and sarcasm. This technology acts as “noise-cancelling” for social media, alerting your team to only the small percentage of chatter that needs attention. This allows you to follow up promptly and diffuse negative situations with customers, as well as act quickly to engage customers proactively when warranted. 

In order to be successful with brand monitoring and social market research, there must be some element of automation – otherwise, your team will spend countless hours scanning through mountains of photos, tweets, posts, and comments. Social media analytics tools intelligently sift through social interactions, distilling data into actionable insights for your brand. 

Learn more about how companies like Domino’s, B&G Foods, and Land O’Lakes use smart social media management tools from Astute.