Social listening vs social monitoring: A comprehensive guide

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When it comes to finding success online, using SEO tactics to get noticed is only one small piece of a much larger jigsaw puzzle. Follow this link if search engine optimization (SEO) pricing still confuses you.

Yes, good rankings are great, but how about your interactions with your audience? These can truly make or break your brand. When we talk about online interactions we mainly refer to social media.

Social hangouts like Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are an essential source of communication, engagement, and loyalty for your brand. And did you know that channels like YouTube, Pinterest, and even TikTok have turned into profitable work from home platforms for many online business owners?

Still, simply opening an account on one of these social media networks is not enough. How can you optimize all that brand exposure and maximize your social presence and customer interactions?

This is when social listening and social monitoring come into the picture. Let’s find out more about these two concepts, and how you can incorporate them into your social media marketing strategy.

Social Listening: A Definition

When we talk about social media listening, we refer to the action of extracting data from social media channels to figure out how customers interact with a brand’s products, services, and even competitors.

Social media listening actually incorporates social media monitoring, but it also includes other aspects that make it a much more complex and multifaceted process. For this reason, not many brands are taking advantage of social listening as a tool to better interact with, and understand their audience.

Nonetheless, social listening is crucial to all brands. By unearthing insights into customers’ likes, dislikes, desires, frustrations, and more, brands can shape more informed responses and craft better business decisions.

Social Monitoring: A Definition

In social media analytics, social monitoring reigns supreme. This is what most brands invest in, as it helps them to provide great customer service and support on all the different social media platforms.

Through social monitoring, a representative of the company is in charge of keeping a close eye on how the company interacts and engages with customers over social media. Thanks to this, brands can spot any potential issues, build solid relationships, enhance customer loyalty, and provide all-around exceptional customer service.

Main uses of social listening for brands

How can brands use social listening, in practice? Let’s discover three of the main uses of this marketing strategy.

1. Tracking mentions on social media

The root of social listening is tracking brand-related mentions on social media to improve business actions and decisions. Whether you are launching your small business on Instagram or using social media to reinforce your already well-established company, knowing what your audience says about you is paramount.

A social media listener will track all relevant mentions to gather important information, including:

  • Number and frequency of brand mentions.
  • Most used social media platform(s) by the audience.
  • Relevant competitors.
  • Relevant industry topics.

In parallel, social listening helps brands discover what people are actually saying about them and their products or services. By reading real people’s conversations, often happening in (near) real-time, brands find out what customers like the most, what they are not crazy about, and what they would like to see more of.

All feedback is important, whether positive or negative. In case of positive feedback, don’t just give yourself a pat on the back. Keep working hard at replicating the same successful behavior that your customers loved.

Similarly, don’t let not-so-good feedback drag you down. Instead, use it to your advantage. Now that you know exactly what upsets your customer(s), you can focus on doing much better next time.

2. Connecting with fans and influencers

Building a community on social media is vital for brands. To achieve this, you’ll also want to reach out to influencers and superfans. Social listening helps you identify just the right people to connect with.

And while you might be tempted to only engage with influencers with a huge trail of followers, don’t underestimate the power of superfans. These are ‘ordinary’ people who adore your brand and never miss the opportunity to speak highly of you, your products, and your services.

Try to reach out to both categories, and you’ll quickly realize how much easier and more effective it is to spread your brand’s message and values and drive them home with confidence and authenticity.

3. Driving meaningful and positive changes

Now that you have all the right information, it’s time to connect the dots and take some tangible action. To begin with, you can start by putting together a data report.

By doing so, you can spot any specific areas where there is room for improvement. Focus on them before tackling other, less urgent, issues, and remember to keep tracking your progress. This is essential in helping you figure out whether your efforts paid off, or if you should revise some of your strategies once again.

For example, let’s say that you have noticed a consistent stream of customer questions or complaints around product availability. This might mean that you need to reassess your inventory system. In this case, why not start by doing some research around, for instance, Fifo vs Lifo, or other ways to optimize the management of your warehouse?

Go back to the same topic next quarter, and check the new data against the information that you had collected last time. Is it better? Is it worse? Has it changed, at all? Depending on what the new figures tell you, you can shape your next business action.

Main uses of social monitoring for brands

How about social monitoring? Here’s how you can put it into practice for your brand.

1. Thanking customers for posting their feedback

Let’s begin on a happy note: sometimes (often, hopefully!) customers are so positively impressed with your brand that they leave a great review. However, Customer feedback is so much more than those exciting words that are making you smile with glee.

It can be a powerful tool to further strengthen your relationships with individual customers and entice them to come back for more of the same. Responding to positive customer feedback, in fact, gives a bit of a personal, human touch to what would normally be a faceless, digital interaction.

By acknowledging how important your customers’ happiness is for you, you are showing them that you truly care and that you genuinely want to keep doing what you can to make their lives better and happier.

2. Fixing issues and complaints

Now, it would be great if every single one of your customers had only wonderful things to say about you, right? Annoyingly, but understandably, too, you won’t be everyone’s cup of tea, nor will you always be able to make your customers feel 100% happy.

For example, let’s say that you run a BOPIS retail business. Sometimes, mistakes can happen: perhaps, a customer’s order hasn’t arrived in-store at the scheduled time, or it has arrived but with missing or damaged items.

In these cases, customers might raise a complaint with your customer service team directly or they might take to social media to voice their frustration. Has this ever happened to you? If so, you’ll want to take action quickly, or you’ll risk the problem going viral.

Respond to the customer as soon as you can and try to remain calm, collected, and cooperative. Show them that you are genuinely sorry for their disappointment and offer a solution, or a series of solutions, to persuade them to keep being loyal customers in the future.

3. Answering questions from your audience

“Are you going to use EDI for your order fulfillment operations?” “Is product ‘X’ going to be available soon in my size?” “What concrete steps are you taking to slash your carbon emissions?”

You’ll be pleased to hear that social monitoring helps you answer all these questions and many more. From the vaguest and generic all the way to the most complex and intricate, your customers expect you to provide valuable answers, solutions, and information.

Of course, they also expect you to do all that pretty much in real-time and at the touch of a button. If the thought is making you feel overwhelmed, don’t be. With a solid social monitoring strategy in place, answering customer queries on-the-fly becomes a real cinch.

The Takeaway

Social listening and social monitoring are, effectively, two sides of the same coin. On one side, you have the more quantitative aspect of your brand’s mentions. Whereas, on the other side you have the quality of those mentions.

Social listening will help you collect first-party data and gain customer sentiment insights, whereas social monitoring will allow you to fine-tune your online customer care and service.

By combining both into your social media marketing strategy, not only can you provide great customer service all the time, but you can also unearth potential issues, drive innovative improvements, and keep abreast of your competitors.

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