Definition: What Is Social Listening?

Definition: What Is Social Listening?

Understanding what social listening really means is important. A lot is being said about this topic and its power to transform brands – but are we all talking about the same thing when we say “social listening”?

What is social listening?

Social listening is the process of finding insights within social media conversations. It gathers social media posts that are relevant to a brand, campaign or topic and analyses the information they contain to find insights and trends.

The social listening process involves first monitoring social media channels for posts that include specific keywords or topics. Then all these posts are analysed to reveal the themes they have in common and the conclusions that can be drawn from them.

This process is done by social listening tools, many of which are available online.

Why do social listening tools exist?

The answer: to use the data created on social media platforms to provide brands with data-rich insights.

Social media users express their opinions on social networks and reveal what their preferences are as consumers. They also use these platforms to share news that can help make businesses aware of developments in their industry, or news about their competitors.

This information is valuable to businesses that need to know what consumers think of their products or services. It can help companies understand what kind of social media content consumers like the most, enabling marketing managers to build better strategies.

Think of social listening tools as watchdogs for brands. They automatically search and report on social media. This means businesses don’t have to assign employees to manually search for and analyse social media posts for similar information.

How does social listening technology work?

When you use a social listening tool, you initially have to define a set of keywords or topics that you are interested in.

These words can include your brand’s name, product names, or phrases within your marketing campaigns. It could also be words that describe the industry you are interested in or the type of products you want more information on. It is sometimes the name of a person, like a spokesperson or influencer.

Then, the social listening tool starts to search specific social media platforms, like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, for posts that contain these topics.

It extracts information from these posts, including the social media user’s name, their location, the time, the date and the content they posted. This information is normally displayed on an online platform or in a report.

The tool then automatically applies computer algorithms to the data to process it. Some tools rely on human analysts to process the data.

Social listening uncovers insights such as:

  • Who is discussing your brand, product, industry or topic of interest 
  • What are the most frequent customer complaints on social media
  • What topics are your target market discussing 
  • What are the different opinions that social media users have about your brand
  • What topics do your competitors or people in your industry chat about 
  • Which of your social media campaigns had the highest engagement on social media
  • Which social media platforms does your target market use the most

The information you gather through social listening can be used in many ways – from improving business and marketing strategies to managing your brand’s reputation.
Now that you know exactly what social listening is, are you ready to measure social media? Read why you should in our blog post, Benefits of measuring your brand’s impact on social media.

Tags: Blog