What Is Social Listening: A Complete Guide

Whatever business niche you’re in, knowing what your customers are saying about you (and your competitors) could be the key to your success.

Social listening helps you to tap into valuable information based on what people are saying about you online – meaning you can perfect all areas of your business based on real-life, up-to-date and valid information. 

This article aims to provide readers a comprehensive understanding about this topic. This ranges from defining what is social listening, how it differs to social media monitoring, and how your organisation can fully harness it.

what is social listening

What is Social Listening?

Most business owners know that customer feedback is one of the most valuable pieces of information you can gather. Social listening lets you go one step further than this – you get to listen to what your customers are saying about you, even when they’re not talking directly to you.

Social media is a big part of many people’s lives – it’s where they go to complain about companies, ask questions to their friends and even recommend places where they have received great customer service.

Social listening means that you’re aware of all of this, giving you powerful information to be able to perfect how all parts of your business work. It even allows you to see which social media platforms you’re being talked about the most, so you can allocate your social media advertising budget accordingly and even do more to generate business leads.

Not only that, but you get to see what potential customers are saying about your direct competitors and your industry in general. Knowing what consumers are thinking and feeling is essential for growing your business. It allows you to stay one step ahead in what you are offering and what you can offer your customers – because you know exactly what they want, even if they haven’t directly told you.

How to Conduct Social Listening

The great thing about social listening is that it works for any brand that is being talked about online. Automated tools allow you to listen for specific mentions, industry news and even social media trends that your brand could benefit from.

One of the most important things with social listening is understanding your audience so that you know who you are looking out for and what trends to monitor online. Starting with monitoring social media channels for mentions of your brand, products that you sell and/or services that you offer is a great place to start.

Collecting the data is all well and good, but you also need to be able to analyse this and understand what the data is showing you so that you can action anything that you have gained from carrying out the listening task.

Most of your social listening should be automated so that you can get on with the day-to-day running of your business. There will be busier days than others, so knowing everything is automated and that you don’t have to physically check social media channels for any mentions gives you peace of mind that your social listening is being carried out effectively.

Social listening gives you the knowledge you need to be able to streamline your business and takes away the guesswork of what you and your business should do next. Not only that, but it gives you knowledge of what your potential customers are saying about the competition – and that really does allow you to stay one step ahead.

What Is Social Listening: Important Metrics

The great thing about social media is that it can give you information on pretty much anything to do with your brand and industry you operate in.

1) Brand Health

This allows you to have an understanding of what the public is saying about you – and the industry you operate within. It allows you to see patterns of talk from customers and act upon this, for example making changes if there is a recurring theme of something negative that your customers are talking about online.

Knowing whether the perception of your business is improving, whether there is lots of talk surrounding your brand and in general what is being said about your business gives you essential information to develop your business elsewhere.

2) Industry Chat

Social listening gives you a 360 look at what customers are saying. This means that you can get an idea of what talk is like surrounding your industry and niche and not just your specific company.

This allows you to see if anything newsworthy is happening without your industry, check for social issues that may affect your business and/ or how your customers are feeling and check for what your customers are looking for so you can be the first to develop and offer new products or solutions to their problems.

3) Your Competitors

Here at WatchMyCompetitor (WMC), we know the importance of tracking your competitors and using this intelligence to protect and grow your company’s revenue. Our competitor intelligence platform is able to monitor your competitors’ global digital footprint, including their social media channels.

Important metrics that we take into consideration include the volume of social media posts by individual competitors, the topic categories and trending themes. 


Social listening is an essential part of this campaign; because it allows you to see what the talk is surrounding your competitors across various social media channels.

4) Your Social Media Presence

Being active in your social media listening allows you to see how well your online and offline advertising campaigns are working, what talk is happening before any event you are arranging happens and even what audience you’re attracting online. We know that customers turn to social media to air their woes, so turn this around and be part of the solution by actively checking for this and reaching out to customers.

All of this information is significant to your brand and that makes it valuable when it comes to deciding future business moves and growing your business.

Social Listening Versus Social Monitoring

Keeping an eye on social media is likely nothing new for most brands. In fact, many brands will tell you that actively listening and paying attention to their social media channels is something that they spend time and money on.

This action of social monitoring is undoubtedly valuable – it allows companies to see when their brand is mentioned. Brand monitoring is something that many companies do in order to be able to respond to negative comments and show that they actively want to offer valuable customer service.

Social listening takes this one step further, allowing you to deep dive into valuable information that is already out there, but you’re just not seeing. It allows you to see more than just conversations where your brand is specifically tagged. Instead, you can check for industry news, mentions of your company, mentions of your competitors and even when potential customers are asking questions that you most likely have the answer to.

  • Brand mentions – Social listening allows you to see these even when you are not specifically tagged in whereas social monitoring requires your social media tag to have been used.

  • Competitors – Social listening allows you to keep an eye on what is being said about your competitors rather than social monitoring that looks for when your company has been mentioned.

  • Industry – Social listening looks at what is being said across a whole industry allowing you to keep up with trends, customer needs and get an insight into what your audience is saying. Social monitoring is much more specific to your company.

Social Listening Tools – Getting the Right Value

Here at WatchMyCompetitor, we know that keeping an eye on your direct competitors is essential for business growth. We have a range of tools that you can make use of in order to automate your competitor tracking. You’ll find a number of
case studies here which show you exactly what we can do in terms of collecting valuable data for brands across a number of industries.


We’re able to help you with direct brand monitoring, competitor analysis, collecting marketing insights and much more. Whether you want help with keyword tracking, reports on trends or just want to know what your customers are saying online, our automated competitor intelligence platform can help make all of that happen.


Social listening allows you to take the guesswork out of what your customers are saying. Instead, you can listen across a number of platforms at what is being talked about and use this to curate your social media campaigns, your customer service responses and even how parts of your business operate. All of this contributes to helping your business be successful and encourage business growth, which for any business is pretty essential.  


If you’re not actively listening to what your audience and potential customers are saying about you and your competitors online then you’re missing out on some valuable data that could make all the difference to the success and growth rate of your company


What Is Social Listening – FAQs

Can my business benefit from social listening?

If your business is one that is being talked about online then the answer is yes, you would benefit from social listening. It doesn’t matter whether your business is a small local business or an international organisation, the chances are you would benefit from knowing what your customers are thinking and feeling – and that is exactly what social listening can give you.

Can social listening improve customer satisfaction?

Absolutely! Customers love proactive companies, so if you reach out to them offering a solution before they have contacted you directly, that will go a long way to ensuring that customers are happy. Not only that, but that is the type of experience that they are likely to share with their friends – and that can only be a good thing for your business.