Do you know the difference between social monitoring and social listening? These terms are hot in the social media management and marketing agency worlds right now. While they are similar, and often (mis)used interchangeably, they are quite different when you break them down according to their distinct scopes and purposes. This article will give you a better understanding of how social monitoring and social listening relate to each other, and how to use them effectively in marketing campaigns.
What’s the difference?
The simplest way to differentiate the two is to view social monitoring as more “micro” — focused on immediate brand mentions and specific keywords. Social listening is more “macro”, with a broader analysis of social media data to gain insights into consumer behavior, market trends, and catching the “vibe” on a topic.
Social monitoring refers to the practice of actively tracking and observing social media channels and online platforms. Its goal is to identify and gather information about specific keywords, mentions, or conversations related to a brand, product, or topic to gather real-time data and insights. Social monitoring is primarily used to keep track of brand mentions, customer feedback, and any conversations that may impact the brand’s reputation or business decisions.
Social listening goes a step beyond monitoring brand mentions and is more of a focused “listening”. It allows analyzing data from the social media landscape to help track the overall sentiment, trends, and conversations happening around a brand. Social listening strategy aims to better understand consumer behavior, preferences, and market dynamics by identifying patterns, trends, consumer sentiments, and market insights. Social listening reports can also help organizations identify gaps in the market they can claim, opportunities to improve customer experiences, and make data-driven decisions using the insights gathered.
What are the benefits of social monitoring?
When getting ready to launch a new product, social monitoring allows you to research the space. Once you see what others are doing in that space, you can either tap in to what’s trending or find a different angle and go for it. Social monitoring lets you position your brand in the market and then manage its reputation as you read what customers are saying about your product and engage by responding to them.
For the Nutrilite Organics Protein Powder launch the team conducted extensive social media monitoring to determine how to position their campaign to drive results. Reviewing both competitive and current audience insights prior to launch further guided the launch strategy. They did extensive social media monitoring before creating a new product launch. Because they knew what their clients were talking about on social media channels, as well as what competitors were saying in the natural supplement spaces, they knew exactly how to position their new brand launch campaign.
Rather than shooting for social media conversions, their goal was to seed the field via social media and user-generated content (UGC) to build awareness and hype around the new product. Pathfinders helped create educational materials, how-to videos, and stunning photos of products, making it easier for distributors to sell once the product was launched.
What are some tips for social monitoring?
Because people are on their phones non-stop, social monitoring and community management is a 24/7 commitment. One person can’t do it all – it takes a team. At Pathfinders, we evaluate our audience not only by their interests but also by their behavior.
Being attentive to our customer’s audience is critical because they expect timely responses to their posts. One of the worst things you can do is to “post and ghost”. If customers are sending you questions, leaving negative comments, or posting a great review but get no response from the brand account, they will think a bot is doing your socials. Customers want human interaction; they want to be seen and heard on your social media channels. “The algorithm never sleeps.”
What are the benefits of social listening?
There are three main benefits of social listening:
- Gather real time feedback, identify emerging trends, and make informed decisions regarding products, services, and marketing strategies
- Reputation management:
- Promptly address customer concerns and resolve issues before they escalate
- Proactively support customers with personalized engagement that fosters their loyalty
- Competitive advantage by monitoring industry conversations, tracking competitor activities, and identifying opportunities for innovation and differentiation
Overall, social listening empowers businesses to be more customer-centric, responsive, and strategic. When you translate the insights provided by social listening data, your business has the upper hand on how, when, and where to drive growth and success.
What are some tips for social listening?
Most businesses need to deploy social listening to stay relevant. Setting goals and setting up a system to reach those goals is critical to social listening success. One of our clients does bi-monthly meetings to review what we have captured and implemented through social listening for its brand across all platforms. The data and analytics from past and ongoing social listening help inform this client’s strategy, tactics, and funnels designed to help them meet their specific goals.
While there are many ways to do successful social listening, in addition to setting goals and regularly analyzing data, be sure you:
- Use the right social listening tools for the job
- Monitor relevant channels (you don’t have to monitor every channel all of the time)
- Set up automations like keyword alerts
- Identify and engage with influencers to maximize your reach
- Abandon what’s not working and do more of what is
How do I hire someone else to do social media monitoring and listening?
Small or medium-sized businesses may not have resources for ongoing social monitoring or social listening. While they may be able to hop onto social channels and do spot brand monitoring from time to time, in most cases it will be more cost-effective to hire a social studio equipped with resources.
Many firms will offer social media monitoring and social listening as an extension of their social media services, with monthly reports analyzing the data and suggesting insights relevant to that business.
Having an agency manage a brand’s social media accounts with the value-add of social media monitoring and listening is an effective strategy for any business looking to grow or grab unclaimed space in the market.
Because the world and social media habits are constantly changing, Pathfinders is here to help you stay ahead of the curve. Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you set and achieve your business goals.
Pathfinders is known for its expertise in financial services, social media marketing, and award-winning, multichannel campaigns. We take pride in creating innovative approaches to branding and advertising that lead clients like PayPal, Fifth Third Bank, and Bread Financial to sustained growth.