A research by Smart Insights shares that 90% of social media users have already used social media to communicate with a brand or a business and 31% turn to social media to make pre-sales enquiries.
It’s no secret that with the dawn of a fresh digital era post covid when all forms of communication and commerce moved online, the importance of social media skyrocketed.
It is no longer the only place people go to build connections but also learn, research, share and buy. This highlights the importance of strategic social media management which goes beyond just being present in various platforms.
However, with growth in influencer marketing, social selling, advertising, and rise in the immense volume of conversations on social media, it can be challenging for businesses to keep track of what is being said about their brand, products, or services.
This is where social monitoring and social listening come into play - as they are two essential tools often used interchangeably to help businesses understand their online audience better.
In this blog, we will delve deeper into the concept and explore their differences, importance in today's digital landscape, and how businesses can use these tools to improve their social media strategies.
Whether you are a small business owner, a marketer, or a social media enthusiast, this blog will provide you with valuable insights on how to leverage social monitoring and social listening to your advantage.
Social monitoring is the process of tracking, discovering and observing brand mentions, tags and queries across social media platforms, blogs, forums, review sites, so you can respond to them quickly and effectively.
In simple terms, you monitor social media in order to meet and engage with your customers where they truly are. This is not a common practice these days but a norm. As per a report by Sprout Social 76% of US customers expect brands to respond within the first 24 hours.
So, in order to succeed in social media engagement, monitoring is critical. Plus with newer social media channels flooding the ecosystem and birth of the influencer marketing industry, monitoring has found an added significance because now, brands must also keep track of the content-generated by users for unsolicited comments, mentions and reviews promoting or de-influencing a product or service.
So, social monitoring helps the brands to build a bulletproof reactive strategy.
Social listening is a strategic marketing tool that goes beyond scanning the internet for brand mentions and reviews. It is a branch of audience analysis that involves strategic research, including social monitoring, to extract relevant data and insights to support long-term growth.
It helps to get a broader view of what the customers feel and how they interact with/about your brand, product, or industry, including competitors.
Understanding these sentiments can help to mitigate risks, respond to customer needs, make informed decisions and be prepared for the future. Social listening not only supports marketing to reach the audience timely and appropriately, but also boosts development and innovation for sustainable growth.
Despite being a rather complex process to understand your customers better when compared to social monitoring, companies are heavily investing in these processes. In a recent Hubspot Research Survey, marketers reported social listening as their number one tactic for building social media strategy.
Process of tracking and responding to online conversations and interactions
Understanding the content and sentiments of those conversations and interactions
Focuses on micro-level of tracking specific metrics such as mentions, engagement, reach or reviews for performance analysis
Focuses on macro-level of analyzing the contextual elements to gain insights about brand’s reputation and emerging trends
Measure impact of campaigns and monitor brand performance and customer feedback
Aims to uncover deeper insights about customer behavior, preferences, and pain points
Manage brand reputation online, address issues and provide enhanced customer service
Improve business strategies, marketing, product development or customer experience
Reactive approach with involves responding to customer inquiries, comments or complaints
Proactive approach that involves actively seeking out and analyzing customer feedback and opinions.
Measures follower count, engagement, mentions, reach among others
Measurement goes beyond basic metrics to sentiment analysis, competitor activity and industry trends
Typically done in real-time. Involves consistent or frequent tracking and immediate responding.
Typically done over a longer time period to gather and analyze data for insights and informed decision making
Often relies on social media management tools and analytics software to track metrics and automate responses
Requires more advanced tools which are driven by NLP technologies, machine learning algorithms or AI.
Hashtags are a no-brainer for companies to monitor and measure the performance of their social media or marketing campaigns. Globally popular brands like Nike have taken it one step further by using branded hashtags to create user-generated content (UGC)
Most of Nike’s TikTok account consists of user-generated content using branded hashtags. The hashtags not only help the company to monitor the brand’s online reputation but also help boost authenticity for the brand with UGC - a perfect way to leverage the best of the influencer marketing ecosystem.
Source: Exolyt - UGC from Nike’s TikTok profile showcasing branded hashtag ‘nikefitcheck’ with relevant metrics useful for brands performance monitoring.
Over the years many companies have chosen popular events to push campaigns, advertise, and boost sales. Although the idea is not very different now, the channels have been replaced. Nowadays brands leverage social media to boost reach and drive engagement. Monitoring these metrics can help them to predict sales and build brand value.
This is what Doritos did just like many other brands during the Super Bowl LVII 2023 event. While most companies advertised commercials during the game’s national airtime, Doritos took it a level further. It launched a TikTok dance contest, which challenged users to post a video of themselves dancing with the hashtag #DoritosTriangleTryout for the opportunity to appear in its game day commercial.
The challenge garnered over 14B hashtag views simultaneously driving user-generated content which was monitored by the brand for their game time commercial feature.
Read more about the Doritos commercial contest here.
It’s no secret that Ryanair offers ultra-cheap flights across Europe, so listening to the younger travelers and appealing to their psyche to promote wider reach is a brilliant strategy.
The airline showcases a great example of how it's done on TikTok. Their account shot to fame as they leveraged social listening for creating content with the use of native green-screen filters and trending sounds and hashtags, all of which appeal to the audience they are targeting.
The brand has taken up and adapted well to the theme of TikTok trends and cheeky humor, to the point that it has started its own wave of green-screen trends.
So, by tapping into popular trends through social listening, the company has gained a massive popularity and now has over 2 million followers and more than 27 million likes.
Netflix is a pioneer in social listening as it consistently taps into new trends to ignite the entertainment world, especially among its largest target audience the millennials.
Previously, the brand also caught attention with its invention of the Netflix Socks campaign. The company paid attention to the conversations made about the brand’s slogan ‘Netflix and chill’ and how most people slept during the movie. In response Netflix came up with the idea of socks that pauses the show when you sleep, so you don’t miss any of it.
The campaign garnered lots of positive reviews and even landed them the Shorty Awards.
Recently, Netflix took inspiration from the short video platform industry and its growing popularity on TikTok. It realized the demand for short-format videos in the market and the preference for humorous content online.
So, Netflix revamped its app to include ‘Fast Laughs’ featuring a full-screen feed of funny clips from its big comedy catalog. Read more about the update here.
It's a well-thought-out strategy resulting from social listening to keep viewers engaged with popular short, fast-moving content and keep them hooked to the platform.
Read 4 other inspiring examples of brands doing social listening as shared by Jeff Bullas.
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Social media monitoring and social listening are both important aspects of online brand reputation management and marketing strategy. So, it must be chosen carefully based on the brand’s social media management goals.
While social monitoring involves tracking brand mentions, comments, and messages to quickly address any issues or complaints that may arise. Social listening involves monitoring social media trends, and conversations to gain insights into customer behavior, sentiment, and industry trends.
So, if your primary goal is to maintain brand reputation and provide timely customer support, social monitoring is more important. You'll be able to respond quickly to any customer complaints or issues and address them before they escalate.
On the other hand, if your goal is to understand customer behavior and sentiment and gain insights into industry trends, social listening is more important. With social listening, you'll be able to identify patterns in customer behavior and preferences, realize potential problems, explore new strategies, and keep track of what your competitors are doing.
Ultimately, both social monitoring and social listening are important for effective social media management. By combining the two, you can gain a comprehensive understanding of your audience, track your brand reputation, and stay on top of industry trends.
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