What Is Social Media Listening?

Skylar Sullivan Skylar Sullivan

While building your brand’s online presence, the chances are that you’ve encountered the term “social media listening.” Unlike a lot of concepts on social media marketing, which can all-too-easily become painfully abstract, social listening is exactly what it sounds like. The basic idea is to use social media and other digital resources to gain new insights about your company, brand, or products. It sounds simple, right? But what is social media listening, really?

How does it work? What’s really happening under the hood of your social media listening software? How does it help your brand? Why does it matter for your digital marketing strategy? What elements should you look for in a social media listening solution?

Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Let’s start at the beginning: What is social media listening?

Social media platforms are like a crowded bar on New Year’s Eve. Even when you’re really interested in following a particular conversation, it can be a serious challenge pick up what people are saying over all the chatter and chaos. Social media listening software allows you to cut through the noise, helping you easily and quickly identify relevant online conversations as they happen.

This isn’t just a matter of finding brand mentions on Twitter and Facebook, although that is part of it. The best social media listening tools also scour the more obscure corners of the internet, finding those discussions on less-popular social media platforms, website forums, and even the comment sections of blogs.

This first step is called social media monitoring, but it’s just one part of a larger process. Being aware of these conversations is great, but there’s only so much you can do with that information. To be truly useful, you also need to monitor the keywords and topics that matter to your brand or company’s overall marketing. Lastly, you need the ability to track conversations about your competition and their products.

By collecting all of this social listening data, you can gain a much deeper understanding of your customers and their needs. If there’s a problem with your product — or even the tone of your marketing — you might not know about it until customer frustration boils over. Social listening allows you to see these trends start, take shape, and grow, allowing you to respond in real time.

If your competition is gaining traction thanks to a new feature or catchy ad campaign, you won’t be blindsided by it. If a group of your customers are unhappy with your products, and are thinking about switching to another provider, you can respond quickly and stop those defections before they happen. Social media listening doesn’t just allow you to listen in on these conversations, it enables you to join in as they happen.

By tracking and analyzing these discussions over time, you can also track your brand’s growth in new ways. You’ll be able to identify key influencers in your industry, including those who are already championing your brand. You’ll also uncover new opportunities, such as thriving customer segments that you never knew you had. This allows you to precisely target your marketing, dramatically increasing your customer acquisitions while also reducing costs.

Obviously, social listening is a huge topic. There’s a lot to unpack, and there’s only so much we can cover in a short blog like this one. As you learn more about this subject, consider this: The real question shouldn’t be “What is social media listening?” It should be “How can social media listening transform my brand’s marketing, customer engagement, and ROI?”

Find out how Sysomos social listening can help you track the conversations that are important. Get a demonstration today.