Strategic Insights: Comparing Social Listening and Social Monitoring Tactics

Social media has become a vast space where it’s necessary for brands to know what is being talked about them and how they are perceived. Two phenomena, ”social listening” and ”social monitoring” hold a lot of importance for brands in navigating their online presence. These are seemingly similar terms but there’s a difference between both of them.

In this article, we will explore how these two phenomena can be compared with each other in terms of their definition, usage, impact, and scope.

What is Social Listening?

Social listening refers to observing, tracking, and analyzing conversations around your brand on various social platforms to understand consumer sentiments and the overall brand perception. It provides deeper insights into what people are thinking about your brand and more importantly, why. It’s a more qualitative approach towards consumer feedback and brand mentions.

Through social listening, brands can know more about their consumers’ needs, behavior patterns, and preferences. This information can be utilized to adapt marketing strategies, manage crises, identify emerging trends, proactively respond to negative feedback, and stay ahead of the competition.

How It Works

There are three basic steps involved in social listening, which are:

  • Data gathering: Monitoring mentions of your brand, products, industry terms, and relevant hashtags across various social media platforms.
  • Data analysis: Analyzing the emotional tone of conversations to gauge overall brand sentiment and identify areas of concern or satisfaction.
  • Data interpretation: Identifying recurring themes and emerging trends, understanding what motivates your audience and what challenges they face to adapt your marketing messages, inform product development, and customer service strategies.

Advantages of Social Listening

  • Manage and improve brand reputation.
  • Proactively detect upcoming crises.
  • Identify emerging trends in the industry.
  • Unlock new opportunities.
  • Optimize campaigns and strategies.
  • Enhance customer experience by understanding their emotions and motivations.
  • Build stronger relationships through personalized interactions and gain more YouTube subscribers and followers on other social networks.

What is Social Monitoring?

Social monitoring refers to observing and tracking mentions and particular metrics to measure customer engagement and the effectiveness of marketing campaigns. Whereas, social listening is about going deeper into understanding consumer emotions and motivations behind what they think and say about the brand.

This is a more tangible and quantified approach towards brand mentions and online conversations happening around it. Through various KPIs such as likes, views, impressions, increase in TikTok followers and on other platforms, comments, shares, and click-through rates, businesses can gather data to gain insights about their performance and perception on social media.

How It Works

Social monitoring involves the following steps:

  • Tracking: Scanning social media platforms, websites, and even blogs, capturing mentions of specific keywords, hashtags, or brands.
  • Alerting: Social monitoring tools notify you whenever someone mentions what you’re tracking, giving you a chance to respond quickly and effectively.
  • Analyzing: These tools can analyze the sentiment of the conversations, identifying positive, negative, or neutral opinions. This helps you understand the overall perception of your brand or topic.
  • Reporting: You can access detailed reports through social monitoring tools that provide insights into who’s talking, what they’re saying, and where they’re saying it.

Advantages of Social Monitoring

  • Measure the overall brand performance on various social platforms.
  • Identify negative feedback early and address it before things go out of control.
  • Measure the effectiveness of your marketing efforts.
  • Know what your competition is doing.
  • Discover emerging trends in your industry and adapt your strategies accordingly.
  • Identify potential opportunities and threats.
  • Engage with the audience in real-time, hearing out their feedback.

A Strategic Comparison of Social Monitoring and Social Listening 

The terms ”social listening” and ”social monitoring” are often used interchangeably. They do have some common points in them but there are a few key factors that differentiate them. These factors are as follows.

  • Approach

Social monitoring is more quantitative in its approach whereas social listening has a qualitative approach. The former is more surface-level, utilizing metrics to measure the overall brand performance on social media and the latter deciphers the meaning and sentiments behind the ongoing conversations.

  • Focus

The focus of social monitoring is mostly on tracking mentions, identifying trends, and real-time conversations. Social listening focuses on the deeper meaning of conversations, the motivations behind them, and the long-term insights offered by them.

  • Impact

Since social monitoring is more about real-time data, its impact extends to short-term responses and campaign performance. Whereas, social listening impacts long-term content and marketing strategies, product development, and customer relationships. 

  • Scope  

The scope of social monitoring emphasizes collecting data about users’ interaction with the brand over time. This data offers insights into their preferences, feedback, and overall sentiment related to the brand.

On the other hand, the scope of social listening extends deeper to understand the motivations, sentiments, and meaning behind conversations, and identify emerging trends.

  • Tools

Social monitoring employs tools for tracking brand mentions and analyzing sentiments. Whereas, social listening employs NLP (Natural Language Processing), audience segmentation, advanced analytics, and topic modeling tools.

What to Choose: Social Monitoring Or Social Listening? 

Most people are confused about whether they should choose social listening or social monitoring to optimize their brand performance. The simple answer is that it depends on what you want to achieve. If you want to track where and how many times your brand is being discussed on different social platforms positively or negatively, you should choose social monitoring. However, if you want to go deeper and understand the cause and context of the online conversations around your brand to improvise your plan of action, social listening is for you.

Conclusively, a good marketing strategy uses a combination of both social monitoring and listening for optimal performance.

Author’s Bio:

Fatima Salman

SEO Content Writer | Blogger


Fatima has been a skilled SEO content writer for more than 3 years. She’s proficient in digital marketing, social media marketing, and artificial intelligence. Her writing style combines flair with functionality, creating content tailored to client needs and industry nuances. Besides writing, she joyfully explores the world, seeking to uncover its hidden gems.

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