Social Media Monitoring Vs Social Media Listening

Social Media monitoring and listening is a more than a buzzword. And with more and more businesses turning to social media for customer service, the differences between these options are worth taking a look at. Finding the right tool is an important first step to staying ahead of your customers and giving your business a leg up in the digital age.

Do you know the difference between social media monitoring and listening? This overview will be useful to anyone interested in either of these tools, specifically how they are also different, how they can be effectively used separately and together as well as some best practices on how to use them.

What is Social Monitoring?

Social monitoring is the process of identifying, tracking, and responding to individual brand mentions on social media, blogs, websites, review sites, and forums to learn what people are saying about your brand, products, and competitors online.

What is Social Listening?

Social listening, on the other hand, is collecting data from those social mentions and broader customer conversations, and pulling insights from them so you can make better decisions for your customers. You might call it, “reading the room.” And, its influence is skyrocketing: In a recent survey, marketers said “social listening” was their top social media tactic.

Social monitoring vs. social listening

megaphone with silver "hashtags" coming out of itThe easiest way to explain the difference between these two terms is to remove the social component and to focus on the difference between monitoring and listening more broadly. Monitoring involves watching, observing, and keeping track of progress over time, while listening involves hearing, interpreting, and understanding. Applying these definitions within the context of social media lets us clearly articulate the difference between social monitoring and social listening.

Social monitoring is the process of watching and observing social media conversation to keep track of a company, brand, or campaign over time.

Social media monitoring allows you to be a fly on the wall and hear what consumers are saying about your company, brand, or campaign, with its primary function of measuring the popularity of these specific topics. Metrics are at the heart of monitoring because they give an at-a-glance understanding of vast amounts of unstructured data and significant changes in conversation. Metrics like consumer sentiment and volume of conversation are most common. Depending on the specific use case, keeping tabs on things like conversation intensity and the number of potential impressions can also be important.

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Social listening is the process of hearing and interpreting social media conversation to understand consumers over time.

Social listening takes into consideration brand mentions as well as broader social conversations and trends to uncover insights that can drive change within your organization. Listening is ideal for brands and companies interested in looking forward and creatively imagining their future state and future competitive set. Organic, unfiltered consumer chatter is a powerful tool used to spot budding trends, reveal unmet needs, discover pain points, and much more. Social listening can drive consumer insight and innovation for both B2B and B2C companies.

Selecting a social media strategy

An understanding of what each entails is necessary to know which strategy is best for you.

Reactive vs. Proactive

Social monitoring is reactive. The customer makes the first move and reaches out to the brand on social media. In reaction, the care representative swoops in to solve an issue or answer a question. It’s a crucial social strategy to have. But those customer interactions shouldn’t stop there.

That’s where social listening, which is proactive, comes in. Social listening allows brands to take those short-term interactions and build them to glean insights for a long-term strategy. This unified, birds-eye view can also help you better understand why those social mentions came to your care representative in the first place. And you can start to find opportunities to make changes that proactively prevent similar issues in the future.

Through social listening, you can also unearth trends among your industry, competitors, and consumer experiences. You can then make necessary changes to stay ahead of the curve and keep customers happy.

Take Xbox, for example. The @XboxSupport Twitter account responds to individual queries, like this one:

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That’s social monitoring. But if Xbox pulls back the scope and sees that many other customers have similar questions, they can suggest product or marketing changes within the company to improve the customer experience going forward. That’s accomplished through social listening.

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Passive vs. active

view of a metrics dashboard on a laptopAs the fly-on-the-wall analogy implies, social monitoring is mostly passive, like bird watching or binge-watching on Netflix. You observe the conversation, maybe post a reply, but no solution-oriented action is taken. On the other hand, social listening is an active activity that involves both receiving and interpreting information on an ongoing basis. Those insights should be used to influence business decisions that ultimately improve customer experience.

Manual vs. Automated

At its most basic level, social monitoring can be done manually. That is, you can use Twitter or Tweetdeck notifications to easily monitor your mentions. But other than that, you can pretty much keep track of every incoming query. And while that’s sufficient for many companies, others prefer a more robust strategy that integrates AI social listening to identify intent and proactively predict cases that might need to be escalated in order to avoid potentially embarrassing remarks left by frustrated customers.

Quick response is a key part of CXM: One survey found that 83% of consumers expect brands to respond to social media comments within a day or less. And that’s where a modern customer experience management platform can improve customer satisfaction compared with inefficient workflows which can lead to delayed resolution and unhappy customers.

Social listening requires more automation and robust technology to collect and measure data. In fact, Forrester found that 52% of social listening tool users considered measurement their top challenge. The right social listening tools will allow you to automatically track keywords, trends, and brand mentions (with or without your handle). It can then aggregate and present that data in a way that is easy to understand and draw insights from. From there, you’ll be able to find patterns, uncover trends, and understand your audience without missing a beat.

Conclusion

Don’t get confused with the terms – knowing what each is about will help you decide which one adds value to your business.

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