Top image: Ultimate guide to social listening

The ultimate guide to social listening 2023

Social media has become an indispensable tool for businesses to reach out to their customers and engage with them on a personal level. But with so much noise and chatter on social media, it can be challenging to cut through the clutter and understand what your audience truly wants. This is where social media listening comes in – enabling your brand to stay on top of industry trends and customer preferences in order to remain competitive. In fact, Social Media Today reports that almost 61% of businesses now have a social media listening system in place and monitoring for keyword mentions, and more than 82% view it as a key planning element.

In this article, we'll explore the world of social listening and how brands can use this tool to better serve their audience and customers.

What is social media listening?

Social media listening refers to the process of monitoring and analyzing conversations and interactions that take place online. Aside from social media platforms, social media listening experts highlight the importance of looking beyond social media for brand insights. For example, in the case of review sites and forums, nearly 75% consider them to be significant, while around 70% regard Reddit as important. These platforms allow brands to gain insight into what their audience is saying about their product, service, or related topic of interest. Not only does a social media listening tool pick up on what exactly people are saying, but it also goes as far as identifying trends, sentiments, and influencers in a specific market or industry.

Unlike social monitoring, where the objective is to track a particular brand campaign through keywords, trends, and hashtags in real-time, social media listening takes on a wider scope to improve a brand's long-term marketing strategy. 

What makes a good social media listening tool?

As with any martech investment, it’s important for brands to do an in-depth evaluation and compare options before committing to a particular social media listening solution. The landscape is vast, and different products may serve your particular needs better than others. 

To stay competitive, it’s crucial to seek out the social media listening tool features that can help them consistently keep an ear to the ground of your target audience while providing your team with the means they need to react quickly when the need arrives. 

Some of the key capabilities you’ll likely want to look for when you’re identifying the right social media listening tool for your team include:

  • 360-degree customer view: Track engagements and ensure customer conversations continue seamlessly everywhere they take place.

  • Consolidated insights: Bring analytics from across the web and social into one place so you can easily monitor what’s being said.

  • Connect to the customer: You’ll need an easy way to prompt customers to share their experiences directly on social channels and gather insights on that feedback.

  • Artificial Intelligence (AI) integration: AI automation for labeling and sentiment analysis is crucial for maximizing your team’s efficiency.

It’s important to remember that AI technology is at the heart of social media listening tools. It allows them to sift through vast amounts of social media posts and break down the sentiment, language, and tone of social media posts, providing brands with a comprehensive understanding of how their audience feels about their brand. 

AI technology makes social media listening faster, more accurate, and more efficient, empowering brands to make data-driven and informative business decisions. Be sure any tool you’re considering has a powerful AI engine, so your team members can spend their time efficiently.

Social media listening success stories


By utilizing Emplifi’s social media listening tool, Hardee’s was able to leverage a moment when online users were already discussing their restaurant. The tool detected a surge in conversations, alerting Hardee’s social media managers to jump online and see what the buzz was about. Taking advantage of this opportunity, Hardee’s responded with a viral tweet that resulted in an impressive increase of 8K followers and over 8 million impressions, with nearly 18K retweets. By leveraging the power of social media listening and responding quickly, Hardee’s capitalized on this social media moment and significantly boosted their online presence.


Domino's, the popular pizza chain, utilizes the Emplifi Social Marketing Cloud to provide real-time responses to its customers. Domino's is able to monitor and analyze customer feedback across various social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram using an automatic keyword search. By properly leveraging a social media listening tool, Domino’s was able to automatically weed out 97% of posts to pinpoint the ones that need attention

5 ways to measure social media listening

As of 2022, the average daily social media usage of internet users worldwide amounted to 147 minutes per day. In this time, users – particularly Gen Z and Millennials – are increasingly vocal about their opinions on brands. Studies indicate they’re more likely to share their experiences and opinions online. This makes social media listening even more critical for brands to understand how their target audience perceives their products or services and to stay relevant and engaged with their younger demographic.

To analyze your brand's impact on social media, simply measure these five key aspects using your social media listening tool:

  1. Mentions: Monitoring mentions is important because it allows brands to track what’s being said about them or their brand on social media and other online platforms. This information can be used to gauge the level of activity and interest and make informed business decisions to improve your reputation or better target your audience.

  2. Sentiment: Understanding sentiment is crucial because it provides insight into how people really feel about your brand, product, or topic of interest. By tracking sentiment, businesses can adjust their messaging or approach to better connect with their audience and provide a valuable customer experience. 

  3. Reach: Measuring the level of reach — including likes, comments, and shares — can help brands understand how customers interact with them on social media. This also includes the number of impressions and unique users reached, which can help brands understand the impact of their social media efforts.

  4. Influencer engagement: Tracking the engagement levels of social media influencers or brand advocates can help brands identify potential partnerships and track the effectiveness of influencer marketing campaigns.

  5. Share of voice: Monitoring share of voice, or the percentage of conversations related to a brand compared to competitors, can help brands understand their position in the marketplace and identify opportunities for growth.

5 steps to get started with social media listening

Step 1: Defining your social media listening objectives

Setting clear goals is crucial for effective social media listening. It's not just about collecting data, but knowing what to monitor and how to interpret the information you gather. Whether that’s brand awareness, customer engagement, lead generation, or managing your reputation, social media listening can help you achieve your goals. By defining your social media listening goals, you can focus on what really matters. This will enable you to fine-tune your social media strategy, measure the impact of your efforts, and optimize your resource allocation.

Step 2: Choose the right tools

With so many options available, it's important to select a tool that aligns with your business goals, target audience, and budget. The right tool can help you monitor social media conversations, track brand mentions, and identify trends and opportunities. By taking the time to research and compare social listening tools, you can find one that meets your specific needs and empowers you to make informed decisions that drive results.

Step 3: Designing meaningful social media listening queries 

A well-designed query helps filter out irrelevant noise and focuses on capturing relevant conversations, sentiment, and trends. Effective social media listening queries help businesses track competitors, identify gaps in their industry, and stay ahead of emerging trends to make informed decisions, improve their social media presence, and, ultimately, drive business growth. You can build your queries with any keyword, #hashtag, or @mention. 

Step 4: Choosing data sources

Choosing and refining your data sources allows you to hone in on conversation areas that matter to your audiences. Configure the types of insights you’d like to get from Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. They all work a little differently, so the setup process should walk you through the decisions and ask you what to define. 

Step 5: Take action and measure your results 

It's important not to stop at simply gathering data. Be sure to take action based on the insights gained and measure the results of those actions. This can involve changing your messaging, refining your content, or adjusting your targeting to improve engagement and reach your business objectives. Another key is to recognize that social media listening is an ongoing process. You should regularly revisit your goals and strategies to ensure they remain aligned with your business objectives.

The takeaway

Social media listening is no longer a luxury; it's a necessity for any brand that wants to thrive and succeed. It’s a powerful tool that allows brands to understand and connect with their audience in meaningful ways. 

By keeping a pulse on the conversations happening on social media, brands can gain valuable insights into their customers' needs, preferences, and pain points. Moreover, social media listening enables brands to stay ahead of the curve by keeping up with emerging trends and competitors' strategies.

In a world where customer experience is everything, social media listening has the power to transform brands' interactions with their audience and drive long-term success.

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