Social Media Listening: What is it and why does my brand need it?


So you’ve been keeping your brand’s social media channels updated, and getting some good traction; writing tweets at the speed of light and flexing your networking muscles, but sadly (or excitingly, if you’re me) there’s more to social media success than all of that.
If you’re on social media, or even if you’re not, you really need to get on board with listening and monitoring. It sounds a bit fancy pants, but it really just means being aware of what’s being said about you, your competitors and relevant topics.

Just broadcasting and engaging isn’t enough. Social media listening is important because:

• Not every user talking about your brand will @ you, and you need to be aware of what’s being said in order to respond appropriately and modify behaviours based on feedback
• It allows you to keep abreast of competitors’ activity, identifying any weak spots their customers raise and keeping an eye on their activity (sneaky!)
• Buying signals are one of the few ways a brand can drive direct leads from their social media (and get that all important ROI up)
• Listening allows you a wider perspective on the success of different activity, outside of just follower data

“That’s all well and good”, I hear you cry “but how do we do it?”

You can use software- cheap software, free software, expensive software- which reduces some of the leg work. Free/cheap versions of Hootsuite, Social Sprout etc offer search options, tracking and reporting or you can use the likes of Vocus which literally delivers tweets to you from people talking about your brand or competitors, as well as users looking for your services.

With anything relying on technology, there are some issues with this method. Obviously software isn’t as sophisticated as humans at understanding sentiment and so this can skew data. Plus you often have to refine your searches to ensure targeted results.
An alternative is to do some manual monitoring and tracking, a great solution if you’re an SME rather than a large brand. A quick way to do this is to set up and save some searches in twitter, or use your preferred scheduling tool to save these in columns for easy viewing.

Every business is different but if you’re doing this I’d suggest the following searches:

• Your brand name (and any variations)
• Competitors brand names
• Your core services
• Any key staff names
• Though Leaders in your industry

Basically, social monitoring and listening can be as time consuming as you want it to be, but doesn’t have to be a daunting task. Start small and spend half an hour setting your searches or software up, then a quick 5 minutes every morning scanning the results and responding where necessary. Simple when you know how!

About the Author

  • Amy-Jay Handley

    AJ is Head of Digital Marketing at Pixel8 Ltd, a branding, web and digital marketing agency, working with all kinds of clients from local SMEs to global hotel brands. AJ is a mixed digital marketing practitioner, with a background in SEO and social media who creates integrated strategies for brands which include these disciplines and anything else digital. She thinks digital marketing shouldn’t be a chore, and helps her clients maximise what time they do have available to get the most out of their content, whilst helping with the bits they can’t do. When she’s not geeking out over algorithm changes or ways of maximising social engagement, she can be found skipping around the networking events of Manchester.


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2 thoughts on “Social Media Listening: What is it and why does my brand need it?

  1. Another couple of great tools to use for listening are:

    Google Alerts: Instance, Daily or Weekly updates for your terms and easy to set up.
    Mention: Free offers one search term but if you pick the right one it can be great. Get more terms with paid plans.

  2. Thanks for the additions Stephen, really useful. Google Alert is great, but I find it misses quite a bit of content and it doesn’t deliver social posts, but is especially good for keeping an eye on blogs and other sites mentioning the brand.

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