How To: Social Media Listening for Business

phone with icons for social media listening
How To: Social Media Listening for Business

“Most people do not listen with the intent to understand; they listen with the intent to reply”

Stephen R. Covey

We talk a lot about monitoring social media. Looking for comments, reviews, and tweets that need a response. Finding ways to make a connection when genuine engagement is a two-way street.

Social listening should be a part of every business’s social media policy.

But what is social listening? Is that different than monitoring? And if it is, why should you care?

How To: Social Media Listening for Business

Social listening is like eavesdropping online.

It’s about finding out what’s being said specifically about your business as well as your competition and any topics that might be of interest.

Listening makes it easier for you to catch negative issues or any buzz that might build momentum and become a problem. It lets you get out in front of the train and turn it around before it gets out of control.

How is Social Media Listening Different From Monitoring?

Monitoring, in social media terms, is the act of watching your platforms for any mention or direct communication with your brand. Constantly being on the lookout for things you need to take action on.

Standard things to monitor:

  • Mentions of your official account names (@mybank)
  • Common ways people refer to your business in every variation
  • Website link shares ( )
  • Branded hashtags

Monitoring also allows for quick responses to customer service issues. They can take the form of:

  • Direct Tweets or messages
  • Comments on posts, even older ones that wouldn’t seem relevant today
  • Page reviews
  • Tagging the page within a post or in a Tweet
  • Posting directly to a page

By contrast, social media listening is a gathering of information.

What are people saying about you, your industry, and your competitors? Are there trends you can spot? What keywords are industry professionals using, and what hashtags are relevant?

Listening helps maintain awareness of the social media environment you want to be a part of.

READ: Track Every Important Conversation: 6 Simple Ways to Build a Social Listening Dashboard

Listening is easy to do if you have good social media monitoring tools in place and take the time to set a few things up in advance.

Ways to start social listening:

  • Ask for feedback on your social media profiles. See who responds and engages in conversation and follow any relevant pages or profiles that result.
  • Set up Google Alerts or Talkwalker Alerts (other free sites and tools do this as well) for certain keywords or mentions. You’ll get notified if those words come up.
  • Set up custom Dashboard streams if you use a social media management tool like Hootsuite or Sprout Social. Follow keywords, hashtags, influencers, and competitors, and check them daily.
  • Read reviews on sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor.
  • Make a list of any forums or communities where your customers congregate and regularly check in on them.

Start listening with the intent to understand. That understanding is why you should care. And it will give you the knowledge to make better connections with your customers or members.