Social monitoring or listening are two terms that have been thrown around in the marketing space for quite a while now. If you are a brand with a social media team, you would want them to keep a tab on what’s going on in your target platforms. This can involve following your industry’s leaders and influencers, observing trends, and learning user sentiments about your products/service. Even a casual look at social media timelines regularly can be a social monitoring routine. But how do you take this exercise and work it to gain an advantage against your peers? Well, here is your complete guide to it.

What is social media monitoring?

Social media monitoring is using a tool to monitor your social media audience and understand what they say about you, your products and services, and even about your competitors. It's an instant, reactive strategy that helps you hear and digest all kinds of conversations around your brand, including product-related queries, reviews, and much more. The crucial component of social media management is listening to the audience, and social media monitoring creates an opportunity for you to engage with them at the right moment to explain the benefits of your product and services.

How does social monitoring work?

Brands use several tools to monitor audience behavior on social media. These tools monitor things like keywords, hashtags, URLs, and much more. The majority of social media monitoring tools work by continuously crawling social media sites and indexing them. Some are crawled in real time, such as Twitter. Other sites might be crawled less often—say, every 10 minutes or once a day—if they are less important. 

Most of these tools cover major social media platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn, Youtube, and so on) as well as enabling you to search for mentions and crawl all sorts of websites monitoring media. These include forums, blogs, news, and much more. The social media monitoring tool then gathers all of these mentions from across the web to one single platform for you to view, analyze, and engage.

How do you find topics and conversations relevant specifically to your brand and your competitors?

Most tools work by the user writing a query to find the mentions they are interested in. These could be mentions of a brand, a product, or a more general topic. Different Boolean operators mean that complex search strings can be written that find exactly what you’re interested in while ignoring irrelevant content.

How can social media monitoring benefit your brand?

The immediate benefit your brand could get from social media monitoring is the ability to listen to your customers. Multiple statistics show that more than half of customers reach out to brands on social media to resolve their product and service-related queries or just to let you know if they had a bad or great experience.

Social monitoring can be precious to your business in the long run. By carefully monitoring the comments shared by the audience, customers, potential customers, and/or competitors about your business, you can:

  • Promptly respond to customer reviews, avoiding the escalation of issues and showing you value your customers.

  • Improve your brand's online reputation by showing that you care for your customers.

  • Increase brand awareness by promoting and initiating discussions around your brand's products and services.

  • Identify your regular and active users and reward them.

  • Collect feedback from your customers and develop your products and services according to their needs.

  • Identify a crisis on time and solve it before it cripples your brand.

  • Observe your competitors and gather examples of their campaign ideas that might help you get an edge.

Basically, monitoring means you'll have the opportunity to enter the discussion and provide the public the answers they need, as well as be notified whenever the audience mentions you in a shared comment. Staying on top of social media also allows your brand to become more accessible, empowering you to interact with your audience faster and more efficiently.

Airlines not only have busy air traffic but sometimes they have social media traffic as well. The above is an example of how social media monitoring helps a brand maintain their online reputation by promptly responding to a positive shoutout. It also helps them gain and maintain loyal customers.

Social Monitoring vs Social Listening

Social media monitoring means tuning in every day and carefully listening to what people say anywhere online about a person, brand, and products. The internet has vast space like an ocean, with countless social channels, platforms, forums, and blogs. Monitoring is basically identifying and responding to the mention of individual brands on social media by tracking various conversions around topics and keywords of one's interest.

Social Listening, on the other hand, is collecting data and pulling insights from social mentions and customer conversations. It takes a macro look at how your customers discuss your brand on social media by gathering the data from social monitoring and customer interactions and building a more comprehensive view. This helps you make better decisions for your customer.

Essentially, social listening isn't about helping an individual customer on an individual matter—instead, it's about identifying larger trends and identifying how to address these issues at the root level to improve future experiences.

Nearly 70% of consumers rely on online reviews before making a purchase decision, and social listening is about exploring these opportunities and turning them into real-time conversions. Proactively responding to good reviews positively impacts your brand, showing you care for and value your customers. The image below is an example of this.


How a social media monitoring tool works

Let's take a look at how a social media monitoring platform can help simplify the process of listening and engaging your audience. We'll use our own solution, Zoho Social, as an example.

The Monitor tab inside Zoho Social makes it easy to track social media activity and pay attention to the people who are talking about you, your brand, your product, or brands you manage.

You can create multiple columns to display specific content based on what's important to your business. Columns give you a quick way to keep track of what people are saying about your brand and discover conversations and opportunities to learn, engage, help, and collaborate. It's like viewing multiple activities in one window. There will always be people talking about your industry; now you can jump into those conversations in real time and engage with posts by liking, commenting, or retweeting them directly from each column.

As long as you're in the Monitor tab, all your saved columns will automatically show you the number of real-time new posts as an orange badge, right at the top. When you click on the badge, it refreshes the column to show you the latest posts and updates specific to that column in Monitor.

Social media monitoring: The way forward

Social media tracking using the right social media monitoring tools gives brands the perspective to serve their customers better. As consumers increasingly interact with and talk about brands online, it’s becoming more critical than ever for brands to be in the loop. The companies that excel will be the ones who listen to their customers and respond and improve accordingly. It’s time for brands to up their game with smart monitoring and precise listening. Is your brand ready?

Read more on 5 ways brands can benefit from a social media monitoring dashboard

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