Difference between Social Listening and Social Monitoring

No! The difference between Social Listening and Social Media Monitoring is not just semantics. The two terms are often used interchangeably, but they are two different strategies that fulfill separate requirements altogether.

What is Social Listening and Social Media Monitoring?

Social Listening

Social Listening is collecting data from social media mentions and customer conversations online and pulling insights from them so you can make informed business decisions. Social listening is used by organizations the same way that surveys or focus groups discussions are used, but it can be utilized far more rapidly, extensively, and cost-effectively than most focus groups.

Social listening helps brands collect honest feedback from customers. An added value to social listening is giving your product management team all the context they need while creating a new product or even while reiterating an existing product, such that they can proactively avoid any bad reactions that may have been previously noted. Brands can actively use customer feedback to ensure their product or service is a perfect fit for the market.

Social listening can help you address questions like:

  • What do customers think of your brand and customer service?
  • How satisfied are customers with your products?
  • Whether customers interact with your social media and other content?
  • How useful are your products?

Gatner reported that just 51% of businesses have used social listening over the past year. By not opting for social listening business can miss most of what customers are saying about them, especially since 91%  of customers talk about brands outside of brand channels.

Social Media Monitoring

Social Media monitoring on the other hand is monitoring social media for interactions directly related to your brand and responding to those messages appropriately. It is primarily designed to alert and enable quick responses from brands, to prevent negative mentions from lingering and influencing the public’s perception of the brand. Often businesses use automated social media analytics and monitoring tools to address this issue. It uses keyword tracking to find the key phrases and terms relevant to your business and pulls them up for you to respond to.

Questions you can answer with social media monitoring:

  • Are customers talking about your brand?
  • Are customers talking about your product names?
  • What are customers saying about your main competitors?
  • Are people searching for products in the location you serve?

The primary purpose of social media monitoring is alerting agents who need to send out rapid responses. Social monitoring is crucial to your brand’s communications channels. It is the ground-level view used to search and collect data, but it does not involve analytics, making it a short-term solution.

Essentially, Social Media Monitoring is like the tip of the iceberg, and Social Listening is the iceberg.

Social Listening Versus Social Media Monitoring

What are the key differences between Social Listening and Social Media Monitoring that directly impact your business?

Proactive vs. Reactive

Proactive customer service focuses on resolving issues even before they occur; Reactive customer service addresses problems once customers bring them up.

Social Media Monitoring is reactive, the customer takes the initiative to reach out to the brand on social media about their issue. In response, the customer service representative steps in to solve the issue or answer a query. It’s an important part of an organization’s social strategy, but it does not offer the same depth as social listening.

Social listening, which is proactive, enables brands to collect those short-term interactions and build them to extract insights for a long-term strategy. This consolidated  birds-eye view can also help you further understand why those social mentions came to your customer service representative in the first place and get to the root of the problem. This allows you to take control of the issue and make changes that proactively prevent similar issues in the future.

With social listening, you can monitor trends in your industry, among competitors, and customers. It gives businesses a step up from their competitors, while keeping your customers happy.

Micro vs Big Picture

Social media monitoring addresses customers on a micro-scale, when customer service representatives respond to incoming queries, issues, and comments. It focuses on monitoring social media for customer queries and providing answers, directing the customer to the right department, or tracking the performance of a campaign, however it does not involve much analytics.

Social listening focuses on how customers discuss your brand on social media, it provides insights on a macro scale. It collects and consolidates data from social monitoring and customer interactions to build a more comprehensive view of what customers are saying and how your brand can participate.

Social media monitoring is a piece out of the larger puzzle, which is social listening, it is a component of social listening. Regardless of the terms, you might use, it’s important to remember that these are 2 different strategies, and to provide the best in class customer service, you need them both.

Tracking vs. Analysing

People on social media are talking about your brand, whether you’re aware of it or not. This means they’re providing valuable data regarding what they need and want from your brand. Aggregating data like this can take your customer service leaps and bounds ahead.

Both social media monitoring and social listening can be used for this purpose, but they have their differences. Social media monitoring does exactly what it says, it monitors social media for mentions and customer interactions about or to your brand. So customer service agents can address them.

Social Listening takes it a step further by collecting this data, to form comprehensive insights that can help you identify frequently occurring customer queries or issues. Identifying and addressing these issues can be incredibly beneficial, it reduces the volume of incoming messages and increases productivity.

Who’s the winner: Social media monitoring or Social listening?

Social Media Monitoring is used to respond to problems, whereas Social Listening is used to understand why and how the problem arose, to fix the root problem. It’s important to understand what monitoring and listening can do for your brand. Only then can you implement the tools appropriately, to have a significant impact and to better engage your customers on social media

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