Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring: The Differences & Why You Need Both!

Not sure about the differences between social listening vs. social monitoring? Get answers & find out how to implement them in your social media strategy.

5 min read

Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring: The Differences & Why You Need Both!

Many of us are guilty of using the terms social monitoring and social listening interchangeably. But the truth is they’re very different!

You don’t want to have one without the other. So, it’s essential to understand exactly what the differences are and how you can implement both in a cohesive way.

If you want to learn the real difference between social listening vs. social monitoring, then you’ve come to the right place! Let’s talk about what they mean and how you can use them both in your digital marketing strategy.

Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring

The main difference between social listening vs. social monitoring is the scale at which they are each utilized. 

For example, when you’re social listening, just as the name implies, you aren’t commenting on posts. Instead, you’re watching the overall trends, interpreting data, and then using your findings to inform future business plans. This is a more macro-level approach where you use high-level information to implement changes in your social media marketing strategy.

Meanwhile, social media monitoring tracks and guides the discussions surrounding your company on social media in real-time. This is a more granular and reactive approach. It focuses on one-on-one conversations with customers.

QUICK FACT: Social media monitoring is the reaction to what your customers are already saying. Whereas social listening is a proactive approach to creating long-term solutions based on your customers’ shared insights.

What Is Social Listening?

When you include social listening in your marketing strategy, you’re taking a proactive approach to a broad view of your company’s presence and industry online. This includes news updates, social posts, and forum discussions.

You’re also watching competitors and the conversations surrounding them. Social listening allows you to stay on top of the challenges your target audience is facing and their specific pain points.

Rather than guessing about what they’re interested in, social listening allows you to see exactly what they’re talking about, engaging with, and the latest trends.

It also gives you an inside look at their perspective and opinions about you. Plus their passions and what topics are trending in your field. 

Tracking these things helps you to make better marketing decisions. You’re able to know exactly what your ideal customers are thinking and what they need from you. 

What Is Social Monitoring? 

Studies show that 93% of users say that online reviews affect their purchase decisions. You don’t want a bad review spoiling your reputation. 

If you want to stay on top of others mentioning you online and be able to instantly respond to the engagement surrounding it, then social media monitoring is how it’s done. 

For example, imagine someone posts about your latest product and says how much they love using it. With social monitoring, you can show your support by commenting on their post or replying to others who are wondering how they can buy it.

You can share links to help direct new customers right where they want to go. Or you can answer questions that come up such as what sizes or colors you offer. This shows that your brand is ahead of the curve and values its customers. 

The same is true of mentions that include negative reviews. Don’t be afraid to monitor social media for negative reviews too! This is a great opportunity to show your customers you care.  

You can do this by having a meaningful chat about the customer’s concerns and how you can help. Here is a great example of excellent customer service by JetBlue.

Social Listening and Social Monitoring: They're Best Together

Even though they’re different and shouldn’t be spoken about interchangeably, social media monitoring and social media listening should be used together when coming up with the social strategy for your company. In fact, you can’t social listen without also monitoring.

For example, tag incoming messages so you can use them later in your reports. Your conversations during social monitoring can become insights into a broader understanding of your overall strategy.

You also shouldn’t social listen without also responding to your customers directly and providing a stellar customer experience. Listening and monitoring are best when done together.

Why You Need a Unified Social Listening & Monitoring Strategy

Social monitoring and listening can take a lot of work to start and manage. But it is worth adding these valuable practices to your company’s regular data analysis.

There’s no comparison to hearing from your customers directly about what they need, their pain points, and their honest opinions of you. 

If you’re just starting out, it’s okay to keep it simple and grow your strategy as you learn. Let’s discuss some easy ways to begin social monitoring and listening.

How to Get Started

In order to get started on your strategy, you need to use social media monitoring and listening tools. These tools help to consolidate social media accounts and track activity across platforms in one dashboard.

When you set up your social media monitoring and listening tools, you want to think beyond your name and social media handles. You can monitor and listen to keywords related to your industry, competitors, and influencers in your market.

26 Best Social Media Listening & Monitoring Tools

Here are a few of the top social media listening and monitoring tools to consider. 

  1. HubSpot Social Media Monitoring Software
  2. Agorapulse
  4. Awario
  5. Brand24
  6. Buffer Analyze
  7. BuzzSumo
  8. Cyfe
  9. Digimind Social
  11. Hootsuite
  12. Iconosquare
  13. Keyhole
  14. Meltwater
  15. Mention
  16. Oktopost
  17. Sendible
  18. Socialbakers
  19. Sprinklr Modern Engagement
  20. Sprout Social
  21. Synthesio
  22. Tailwind
  23. Talkwalker
  24. Tweet Deck
  25. YouScan
  26. Zoho Social

Choosing the Right Social Media Monitoring & Listening Tool For You

There are many options when it comes to monitoring and listening tools. Not all of them offer the same features. Make sure the tool covers the social media platforms that are most relevant to your industry.

Many tools offer free trials, this gives you the opportunity to see if you like working with that particular tool before committing to it. Some of the more advanced tools even track images and logos. 

Not everyone needs the same level of detailed metrics and analytics. If you’re just getting started, keep it simple and start with an easy tool to help you get comfortable. Then you can decide if the information justifies putting a larger budget toward a more extensive social monitoring tool.

4 Best Practices for Social Monitoring & Listening

After choosing a tool that provides the features most suitable for your business,, it’s time to start monitoring and listening on social media. Here are some best practices to keep in mind.

1. Build Relationships

Once you have your strategy in place and begin to practice social listening and monitoring, you want to identify users who interact with your brand on a regular basis. Start to build a relationship with them and support them in becoming brand advocates.

2. Be Ready for a Crisis

Even though we don’t want to expect the worst, it’s good practice to have a crisis plan in place so everyone is on the same page if something goes wrong. This could be a plan of action if a post goes awry or if your website goes down. 

Social media fallout can happen for a number of reasons. Be ready by determining what course of action to take. This could include who is in charge of answering comments and questions, where you are going to release a statement, who is going to write the statement, and so on.

3. Monitor Campaign Hashtags

You may have a core set of keywords that are always associated with your business. But when you are launching a specific campaign or event, you want to monitor those unique hashtags and related keywords, too. 

This lets you respond to any questions surrounding the campaign as well as watch its growth and the effectiveness of your posts.

4. Enlist Your Customer Support Team

A key part of a successful social media monitoring strategy is responding to customers directly. This is a great reason to enlist your customer support team for the job. You can create a separate account for them or allow access to your main accounts.

Be sure everyone is on the same page with best practices on social media and an agreed-upon turnaround time for responses.

Amplify Your Social Media Strategy

Now that you know the significant differences between social listening vs. social monitoring (and why you should implement both!) it’s time to get started.

Before you dive in, meet with your team to strategize some plans and ideas about how you want to implement monitoring and listening into your daily routine. At first, you might need to start by addressing customer comments, reposts, replies, etc. before taking on a more extensive strategy.

Don’t try to do everything at once. It’s okay to start by just tracking your company’s name and a few related keywords. Your findings will help further guide your strategy as you learn what works.

Interested in implementing these strategies for your business? Reach out to a qualified digital marketing agency for expert advice.

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Frequently Asked Questions About Social Monitoring & Social Listening

Q: What Is Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring?

A: Social media monitoring is the reaction to what your customers are already saying, whereas social listening is a proactive approach to creating long-term solutions based on your customers’ shared insights.

Q: What Is Social Media Monitoring?

A: Social media monitoring tracks and guides the discussions surrounding your company on social media. This is a granular approach and focuses on direct conversations with your customers.

Q: What Is Social Media Listening?

A: Social listening is when you watch overall trends and interpret information on social media, to then inform future business plans. This is a macro-level approach where you use high-level information to implement changes in your marketing strategy.

Q: How Can Social Media Listening Increase Customer Advocacy?

A: When you use social media listening and social media monitoring together, you are able to understand your customers at a deeper level. It allows you to address their specific needs directly and be more effective in changes to your product, services, interactions, and processes.

This leads to a better overall customer experience. Your customers feel like you really know and understand them. Overall, this results in an increase in customer advocacy.