What is Social Listening: Definition, Benefits, and How to Do It

As a business, it’s important to understand how your audience feels about your brand, products and services and perhaps, most importantly, what they say in reviews, on blogs and on social media. By using social listening, you can adjust your branding strategy to ensure your company is providing what your audience needs. Social listening allows brands to be successful and have positive sentiment among their customers online.

In this article, we explain what social listening is, why it’s important, list the steps for practicing social listening and provide essential tips and tools to help you do it.


1 What is social listening?

2 Why is social listening important?

2.1 You will know exactly how the customer feels, not by assumptions.
2.2 You can prove the growth of your brand
2.3 You will be able to form a deeper relationship with your customers
2.4 Your customers can help you find solutions

How to do social listening?

3.1 1. Create and update your social media profiles
3.2 2. Choose a social listening tool
3.3 3. Identify your keywords
3.4 4. Know your competitors
3.5 5. Monitor other important items
3.6 6. Meet your team

4 Tips for doing social listening

4.1 Collaborate
4.2 Listen wherever you can
4.3 Make the necessary changes
4.4 Tracking patterns and trends
4.5 Identify your organic brand ambassador
4.6 Engage in conversation

What is social listening?

Social listening is paying attention to what other people are saying about your business, product or competitor online and then analyzing the results to understand why they made those comments.

Social listening is an important part of audience and marketing research. It is often used in conjunction with social monitoring. Monitoring lets you know “what” people are saying by tracking and responding to website comments. Listening lets you know “why” your audience made this comment.

For example, social monitoring shows your brand is getting a good score for customer service. Social listening lets you know where the comments center around a particular location are trying to help customers. This shows that the actions of store employees reflect the company’s commitment to serving its clients.

In return, you can reward the team’s hard work, perhaps rewarding them with a bonus or reward, and use this as an example of motivation for other locations and teams. This is a win-win solution situation because customers are satisfied, employees are recognized and your company has proof of its success.

Why is social listening important?

Social listening will help you better understand what your audience thinks about your organization and brand. With these insights, you can modify and optimize your branding, customer service, and even, your product or service.

You can use your knowledge of social listening to help create campaigns, deliver appropriate and engaging content, provide important educational materials, understand your competitors’ strengths, and select brand ambassadors.

Here are some reasons why social listening is important:

You will know exactly how the customer feels, not by assumptions.

When you have this information, you can use your marketing and operations budgets properly to ensure you’re providing what your customers need. As you assume, you may be wasting valuable money, time and other resources on campaigns and strategies that may not work.

You can prove the growth of your brand

Social listening tools can help you see the ups and downs of certain sentiments about your brand. You can then use other specific metrics and tools to associate these peaks and valleys with something specific.

For example, you might notice an increase in positive sentiment after a product launch and could prove that your brand’s new growth is because customers are happy with your product.

You will be able to form a deeper relationship with your customers

Customers appreciate when brands form a genuine relationship with them. They want to know that your brand hears what they have to say, understands how they feel, and wants to do something about it. Customers look to their favorite brands to answer their questions and provide real (and, sometimes, valuable) feedback to comments.

Your customers can help you find solutions

Customer complaints are very important because, with them, you can determine what you can do to make your clients happier and more loyal to your brand.

For example, social listening might find that customers are frustrated that your live webinar fills up quickly and they’re having a hard time getting tickets. With this information, you can find ways to help your subscribers stay informed by recording a webinar for them to watch later or giving your presentation to them.

You have default content. Since social listening shows you what others are saying about your brand, you may find content from your customers to use in your own content marketing calendar. User-generated content is an important part of any content strategy because you can display organic images and videos of customers using your products.

How to do social listening?

Follow these steps to set up and do social listening:

1. Create and update your social media profiles

If you haven’t already, make sure you have a solid social media presence, by creating a profile of where your customers might be and engaging them with interesting content.

While your overall Social marketing strategy may not allow for a presence on every single platform, be open to joining places where your customers are after you’ve listened socially.

2. Choose a social listening tool

Basic social listening tools will allow you to link your social media profiles and track the number of keywords or hashtags. Some are free while others must be purchased.

There are also more advanced tools that will not only search for and track specific branded mentions and keywords but will also allow you to reply to customers, run comprehensive reports, and identify trends. Do your research to find the best social listening tool for your needs and your budget.

3. Identify your keywords

You may already have keywords, but there may be opportunities for more. The more you pay attention to what customers are saying online, the more you will understand the keywords and jargon they use to communicate about your brand or the industry you serve.

You can then use their common language as you develop content as a way to connect with them. As you build your keyword list, you can search for these same keywords for a deeper socialization.

4. Know your competitors

Part of social listening is understanding how your audience and potential customers feel about your competitors. This can give you a valuable advantage to develop products, services, and other offerings to gain the loyalty of your customers or acquire the business of others with whom your competitors may have dealt with in the past.

You can understand what your competitors are doing to get customers or what you are doing right that makes you stand out from your competitors.

5. Monitor other important items

Along with your keywords and competitors, it’s important to monitor:

  • Your brand name and individual social media handles
  • Your product and service name
  • Common misspellings of your brand and its offerings
  • Your company executives and other key members of your leadership team or those who may be familiar with the public, such as your public relations manager
  • The hashtag you developed
  • Hashtags that your customers use frequently in relation to your brand and what you sell
  • Frequently used keywords in your industry
  • Your company slogan
  • Your marketing campaign name

6. Meet your team

Part of social listening is monitoring what is said online and then making an action plan based on the results. Develop a schedule for how often you’ll do social monitoring so you can keep meetings on the calendar with people in marketing, operations, or other critical departments.

Groups can analyze the results of social monitoring and listening reports and decide what companies can do to improve their current online sentiment, earn more customer loyalty, or solve problems.

Tips for doing social listening

Keep these tips in mind when you want to do social listening for the best results:


All departments and levels in your company can benefit from the type of information social listening provides, so collaborate as much as possible.

For example, your marketing team might do some outreach but need the customer service department to step in and answer questions. If you work for a bank and your customers have a lot of questions about the home loan approval process, you may need your lender team to create valuable blog posts and emails that you know customers need.

Listen wherever you can

Customers can talk about your brand anywhere online, from social media platforms to review sites and even comment on blogs writing about industry news. Be sure to monitor as much as possible so you don’t miss out on important information.

Once you identify where customers are talking about you, you will be able to create content there, interact organically with customers using the platform and create advertising strategies that can increase your sales and profits.

Make the necessary changes

Through regular social listening, you’ll be able to see when your brand sentiment goes from positive to negative. Social listening allows you to take quick action when this happens.

Be prepared to address any issues you see by understanding why the customer base feels how they feel and reviewing your strategy so you can make any corrections you need to have a happy customer base once again.

Track patterns and trends

A big part of social listening is getting the insight you need so you can give your customers what they want and avoid what they don’t want. Over time, you will be able to build patterns and spot trends that can help with your future strategy.

Identify your organic brand ambassador

Your brand ambassadors are those who naturally talk about your brand and its offerings, and are influential in their purchase because of how passionate they are about your brand.

If you identify these people, you may be able to develop a partnership with them to produce more content while rewarding their loyalty.

Engage in conversation

Social listening may seem one-sided, but consider how effective your customer strategy will be if you use social listening to regularly engage with your audience.

By joining the conversation, you may become an important part of retaining them, which can give you more information about your customers.

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