Social media listening and monitoring

Social Media Listening and Monitoring: What Is It And How To Do It

Social media has become an integral part of the way businesses interact with their customers.

It is a place where people can voice their opinions about products and services, share what they like and dislike, recommend new places to go or explore, and more.

The problem is that many companies are that while they may have some social presence, they are not actively listening or monitoring conversations that are going on about their organization, competition, or industry.

This article will cover the keys of social media listening and monitoring for your organization.

What is Social Listening?

Social media listening is pulling conversations from your various social media sites and analyzing the conversations in aggregate to provide insights.

This is a 30,000-foot view of what some people are saying about your brand, your competition, and your industry.

With Social Listening, you are a Passive Participant.

Social Listening is designed to give you data and intelligence so that the social media plan can be improved upon.

It gives you insight into your audience, your company, your competition, and your industry.

Sales reps, social media managers, and key leaders might also be interested in the information gained from social media listening similar to the information gained from a survey or focus groups.

What is Social Monitoring?

Social Monitoring differs from Social Listening in that you are an Active Participant in the conversation.

This is the 1,000-foot and below view of what people are saying.

You are actively seeking out mentions and conversations about your organization, brand, or industry and then engaging when appropriate.

If Social Listening is the first step in understanding your customers and how they interact with you, then Social Monitoring is deciding to engage in a conversation and provide input.

What Do I Start?

First, you will want to find out what social media channels your target audience is on.

Next, you will want to develop some general criteria for both monitoring and listening.

As an example, you will need to think about when to move from passive Social Media Listening to active Social Media Monitoring.

Just like you would at an in-person conversation that you are not a part of, you may not want to interject into a 1-on-1 conversation.

This will be a judgment call, so try developing some initial criteria as to when it is appropriate to enter the conversation and then adjust that criteria as you continue to plan and execute.

You will also want to outline the basics of who is doing the monitoring and/or listening, how often, what are the reporting mechanisms, determine if you need to develop a playbook full of useful information and standard responses and know who approves an organizational response.

Once you have the basics down, then develop a listening and monitoring plan for your organization, competition, or industry.

Your Organization

Some of the things you can use to help with your organizational listening and monitoring plan include:

• Your organization’s name

• Different variations of your organizations brand’s name (46alpha, 46A, forty-six alpha, etc)

• Common misspellings of your organization’s name

• Company leadership and active members

• Your slogan

Your Competition

Monitoring competitors is an effective way of gaining additional information about your customer’s needs. It can also help you determine how best to position yourself in your industry. Some of the things that can help you with your competitor listening and monitoring plan include:

• Your competitor’s name

• Names of your competitor’s leadership and active members

• Competitor campaigns

• Competitors slogan

Your Industry

By monitoring yourself and some competitors, you may start to gain a sense of your industry, but you will want to actively seek other ways to help paint a more complete picture. Some of those include:

• Industry news outlets and publications

• Government, political, or related areas that impact your industry

• Industry influencers and thought leaders

• Common Keywords or phrases used by the industry

• Frequently used industry hashtags

What Tools Can I Use?

There are a variety of social listening and social monitoring tools that can be used to sift through the data and provide insights into your customers’ needs.

Pick one that works for you and/or your team. If you are a 1-person social media shop, then you will want to pick a tool that is simple, automated, and easily integrated into a busy schedule.

If you have a larger team in a corporate setting, then you might look for something that has more capabilities especially if you can devote a person or more entirely to listening and monitoring.

Here are a few tools to consider:


Search for any topic, keyword, filter by date, demographics, location, and more.

You can identify thought leaders, understand the perception of your brand in the market, and set up alerts if and when your mentions spike.


Brandwatch is meant to “Find meaning in the billions of conversations happening online.”

You can search for mentions, segment them into categories like feedback, complaints, and opinions, use their AI tool to help analyze, and decide when to engage.


Mention monitors all mentions of your organization across social media and other websites like Yelp,, Tripadvisor, and Amazon.

You can “uncover trends in conversation, filter and analyze data from Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.”



It has a Smart Inbox where you receive your mentions and messages.

You can search for keywords and supports Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn.


This post may contain affiliate links. Click here for my disclaimer.

Mike Nicholson

I've spent my career working in a variety of Strategic Communications, Public Relations, Public Affairs, Information Operations, and Executive Outreach positions. With a history of planning, preparing, executing, and assessing communication strategies in the U.S. and abroad, I use this site to write, think and share lessons learned on organizational communications.

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