Social Media Monitoring vs Social Listening – Yes, There’s a Difference!
Mike Baglietto |
 10/24/22 |
6 min read

Social Media Monitoring vs Social Listening – Yes, There’s a Difference

Social media monitoring and social listening are part of the broader social intelligence discipline, a couple of branches on the consumer and market intelligence family tree.



Understanding the difference between the two is important in setting the whole course of the social intelligence process. Social intelligence – the use of advanced techniques and technology to gather insights from social media data – relies on the quality of the data.

And brands should be aware of the difference between social media monitoring and social listening because each helps you gather the most relevant data. Armed with this intel, you can set appropriate objectives, pick the proper tools and techniques, and determine which business cases require either or both capabilities at different stages.

The Difference Between Social Media Monitoring and Social Listening

Say you wanted to market a product to a particular segment, as is often the case. First, you would listen to determine which platforms this segment frequents.

This would be a crucial first step, as it would set in motion a host of other actions, including how to craft the messaging and when to launch your campaign. Analyzing the social media conversations held by members of this group would be the most logical next step forward.

To do this, you would use the appropriate tool to gather and filter data going back to a particular period – six months, for example. By analyzing consumer conversations over the previous half year, you would hope to know the emotions, attributes, and behaviors of your target segment for the period.

This is how social listening can help you create a strategy for your marketing campaign. And then social monitoring would be the real-time, ongoing observations you make of these audiences in their element. During your social media monitoring, you would continue to listen as well, and uncover additional insight to expand and refine your monitoring efforts.

Ongoing monitoring is essential for launching a new campaign and for improving an existing one. In the former, you would just be more focused on current data, creating benchmarks as you go.

To evaluate and tweak any campaign strategy, take advantage of emerging opportunities, and prevent potential eventual crises, you need real-time data and social media monitoring.

Roles Social Media Monitoring and Social Listening Play in Business

To better understand how social media monitoring and social listening are applied distinctly in marketing, let’s look at some common business use cases.

1. Running a Marketing Campaign

Before launching a marketing campaign, you need to develop your target audience. To know your target well enough to connect authentically, you need to study existing data including purchase trends, customer feedback, and social media data.

This data can help you understand what your audience cares about in terms of product features, customer service, and other brand attributes. If you have a broad audience, this data can also help you segment along definite lines so you can create more appealing marketing messages.

Additionally, by looking at the data, you can tell which platforms are most popular with your target demographic or the different segments to optimize your reach.

Once the campaign is launched based on the insights derived through social listening, the focus turns to the data that’s streaming in i.e. real-time data. It is useful for evaluating the soundness of the strategy as well as dealing with new developments.

Social media monitoring and social listening help you launch and run your marketing campaigns

Social media monitoring and social listening help you launch and run your marketing campaigns.

During the campaign, you may also have specific areas of interest that you want to keep an eye on. Using social media monitoring tools, you can tag specific actions, events, or people and set up notifications to keep you updated on any changes through real-time alerts.

2. Launching a New Product

Launching a new product today is a high-stakes process – the failure rate is alarming. This is why you need quality data about your target market.

Social listening is a crucial part of the new product development research process. It can help with ideation, screening, and concept development. These three steps in the process are about finding the right combination of product attributes and this involves the end user just as much as it does the producer.

Beyond that, the launch needs to be well timed. This is where social media monitoring comes in ––to scope the market for factors such as trending topics that may aid or deter the launch, brand passion and sentiment among the target customers, and competitors who might be launching at the same time.

Boost your product launch through social media monitoring and social listening.

Boost your product launch through social media monitoring and social listening.

After launch, social media monitoring needs to go on watching for initial customer reactions which will help the brand improve the product or with its ongoing promotion.

3. Analyzing a Trend

Trend analytics are vital to campaign performance, product launch, and understanding customer expectations. This is why leading brands use social media monitoring to remain in contact with trends whether they are emerging, peaking, or diminishing.

By tapping into the social conversation about a trending subject, you can develop a sixth sense around what will be hot with consumers next. This presence and visibility can also improve your share of voice with consumers, which would be out of reach without continuous monitoring.

Use social media monitoring and social listening to verify emerging plant-based diet trends.

Use social media monitoring and social listening to verify emerging plant-based diet trends.

While social media monitoring is important for watching the real-time progression of a trend, social listening takes a step back to examine the history of the trend. This is one of the measures brands use to distinguish trends from fads.

It can also help you plot the likely trajectory of the trend so you can prepare to embrace the opportunities and mitigate the threats.

4. During the M&A Process

Developing new partnerships is one of the fastest ways to the front of an emerging category’s line. However, these opportunities must be carefully vetted through proper due diligence.

Social media can tell you a great deal about the strengths and weaknesses of your potential partners, and this applies to both B2B and B2C.

Through social listening, you can capture and analyze the conversation around them not just at present but also what has happened in the past. With this, you can gauge their value add to the brand and negotiate from an informed position.

It can also help you avoid volatile partners who may bring their transgressions over to your side. Through social media monitoring, you can focus on the present and understand the reactions of the audience as the news comes out that you are partnering.

M&A due diligence by subcategories in a given industry.

M&A due diligence by subcategories in a given industry.

Post-merger, social media monitoring continues to be useful for tracking key growth metrics as well as emerging risks and opportunities as the two brands gradually coalesce in the minds of the consumers and employees.

5. Performing Competitor Analysis

Competitor analysis helps a brand understand its position in the market relative to other players. From tracking existing competitors to identifying emerging threats, social intelligence plays a crucial role.

With social media listening, you see a complete view into your competition, from first visibility. With data on metrics such as share of voice and consumer sentiment, you can use benchmarks to determine your relative position.

Once you have a proper understanding of where the competition is, you can deploy social media monitoring to ensure you don’t lose sight of it. You can stay informed of product launches, partnerships, earnings calls and tease out a glimpse of their marketing strategy through various activities and events. And you can see how they stack up against you on relevant product measures:

Gain competitive intelligence through social media monitoring and social listening

Gain competitive intelligence through social media monitoring and social listening.

To monitor your competition more effectively on social media, use a dedicated social media competitive intelligence tool. It will track everything you need to know about your competitors and report it in real time to ensure you don’t miss a thing.

6. Managing a Crisis

Thanks to social media, you can avoid some potential crises all of the time; but you can’t avoid all of the crises all of the time. There are simply too many risks for brands on social media, so it makes sense that the conversation is focused more on how to manage crises when they occur rather than how to prevent them. Both elements are crucial.

When disaster strikes, you can use social listening not just to uncover conversations around your own brand but also about others that have been faced with the kind of crises you’re facing. It can help you find solutions by looking at the right moves and mistakes made by others in your position.

Of course, in the midst of a crisis, minute-by-minute data is crucial to addressing the situation. Social media monitoring comes in handy as a way to follow the conversation on social media without tripping any more wires.

Importantly, you don’t need multiple disparate tools to perform social media monitoring and social listening effectively. NetBase Quid brings two platforms together so you can do it all under one roof.

For comprehensive social media competitive intelligence, Rival IQ – a NetBase Quid company – is the ideal solution built on the same cutting edge AI technology that supports NetBase Quid.

Reach out for a demo today and an expert will show you how to combine social media monitoring and social listening for effective social intelligence that will have you capturing a much larger share of voice in no time!



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