Social Listening: What It Is and Why You Need It
Scott Greenhalgh
Scott Greenhalgh

What is Social Listening?

Social Listening involves researching, gathering, and analyzing available commentary from the public-facing internet (social networks, blogs, forums, news outlets, review sites, video sites, and other generic websites) about a specific topic, brand or theme. 

There are many different departments or teams within an organization who can benefit from social listening and knowing how to harness the rich insights that come from it can set you apart from competitors and other industry players.

What measurements are used when conducting social listening analysis? 

Typically, when talking about measurement in social listening, volume of conversation comes to mind. How much is this topic, brand or theme being talked about? Does the amount seem large in comparison to other similar topics? What does this volume of conversation convey to my organization? 

Another form of measurement is surrounding the sentiment of conversation. Are people reacting positively or negatively about a specific topic? Does my organization need to be aware of the way our brand is being talked about online? Who are the individuals driving the negative or positive conversation about me?

Share of Voice is another common metric of measurement in social listening. SOV can be measured against the topic itself, meaning, a question such as the following can be answered: Which platforms is the conversation resonating on the most? It can also be compared to other similar topics to see if competitors or other industry players have a larger SOV in the space than my brand does. 

How Can Your Brand Benefit from Social Listening?

At its core, social listening can be thought of as gathering unprompted intelligence and perceptions from millions of consumers, potential clients, and those wanting to share their opinion. According to Statista, by the year 2025, roughly 4.41 billion unique users will engage on social platforms – up from the current 3.6 billion unique users engaging today.

With so many available comments, posts, stories and other content sources on the public-facing internet, organizations can benefit from real-time sentiment and trend analysis, topic and theme analysis, as well as knowing which platforms content is surfacing on, who is publishing the content, and engagement analytics associated with said content. Brand, product, key-leadership, market segment, influencer, and competitor monitoring are also a huge benefit for organizations. 

Primarily, individuals associated with your brand, whether it be direct consumers or potential clients will tell their immediate circle of influence about a bad experience with your brand, before they tell you directly. Having a pulse on these potential conversations, and being alerted in real-time can have a huge impact on the operations of your brand.

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