Social Media Monitoring vs. Social Media Listening

Back in 2010 Dan Neely proclaimed: “Monitoring finds symptoms; listening finds causes” and it appears his advice remains as relevant now as ever. The buzzword “social listening” has steadily risen in use over the last 5 years, but what does it mean and how can it change the way businesses engage with their customers?

screen-shot-2017-02-13-at-4-34-00-pm
Social media listening (blue) vs. social media monitoring (red) between 2012-17. Data from Google Trends.

‘Social media listening’ is the more sophisticated, subtle and time consuming hybrid of regular ‘social media monitoring’. ‘Listening’ is about more than replying to complaints or queries when prompted. It’s more than watching your mentions and engaging superficially with your customers and key stakeholders.

If you’re only responding notifications as they filter into your inbox then you’re probably selling your business short- you’re likely to miss out on a huge group of people taking about you, discussing your product or dissecting your brand.

laptop-1385702_960_720
Image courtesy of Pixabay.

Social listening requires tracking conversations around specific phrases, words or brands, and then leveraging them to discover opportunities or create content for those audiences. In its most basic form, social listening is realtime, actionable data which can be used to inform and tweak campaigns and form a broad-spectrum understanding of your business’ strengths and weaknesses. 

Its about applying a much broader lens to your monitoring: rather than just monitoring your product and customers, social listening can provide a wider snapshot of your industry, your competitors and emerging events.