The ultimate guide to social listening [with case studies]

Chia
February 11, 2021 ・ 18 min read

Social listening lets you keep an eye on online mentions containing your brand name. You can listen to online coversations and never miss anything important. But what’s next? How can you use social listening to your benefit?

Undoubtedly, social listening can help you grow your business. Monitoring conversations around your brand can give you many insights that will improve your presence on social media channels, help manage customer complaints, or track your competitors movements.

But that’s not all. Using social listening should be an indispensable part of your marketing activities.

How to create a social listening strategy? Do you need dedicated social listening tools? And how exactly can you make sure that social listening process helps your company?

Hopefully, you can find the answers to all these questions in this blog post. We also included a bunch of case studies, so you can see the practical application of social listening.

What is social listening?

Social listening is the process of actively searching the Internet for mentions about your brand, product, service, or competitors and drawing actionable conclusions that will help your company grow and become an industry leader.

Social listening consists of two processes – social monitoring and social listening.

What’s the difference?

You start with social monitoring. In this part you search for publicly available mentions about your brand. You can look for conversations on social media, news sites, blogs, forums, and other publicly available web sources. In an ideal scenario, you will collect the mentions in real-time.

Monitoring social media focuses strongly on metrics, such as the volume of mentions, sentiment analytics, or share of voice.

The social listening magic starts in the second step. Once collecting data is done, you can start analysing the results and drawing conclusions.

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Social listening is all about the insights that are suppose to help you grow. The process of listening to online conversations around your company, products, and industry can help you with many different aspects of your business, including:

  • improving your customer experience
  • keeping an eye on competitors and becoming and industry leader
  • improving or preparing a new product tailored to your potential customers needs by implementing sentiment analysis
  • closely monitoring social media and preparing the content your target audience want to interact with
  • increasing brand awareness
  • gather more accurate social media analytics data
  • and much more.

To show you all benefits of social listening we prepared a list of 12 ways listening can help you grow, including social listening case studies!

How to start social listening?

The social listening process is quite simply, given you have the right brand monitoring tool at hand. Of course, you can do the process manually, but it’s much more time-consuming and less effective. 

It’s easy to get started with a social listening tool. All of the social media monitoring tools base on similar premise, so I’ll discuss the matter based on Brand24. 

You start with creating a social media monitoring project. In the project creation wizard enter the keywords you would like to track. Think about:

  • the name of your brand, product, or service
  • your company hashtag
  • your campaign-specific hashtag
  • your CEO’s name or any other prominent employee
  • keywords related to your business niche.

Next, you also have to choose the online sources where the tool will look for online conversations. The broader you go, the more non-social and social media data you will be able to analyse. The top online sources you should focus on include:

  • social media platforms, including Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Twitch, or TikTok
  • news and review sites
  • blogs
  • podcasts
  • newsletter
  • other publicly available online sources

Once you monitor and analyse all publicly available information about your company, you can analyse your brand perception and social media presence in-depth.

Social listening tools will collect every available mention and analyse the results thoroughly, leaving you with some actionable insights you can use to improve our online presence.

The benefits of social listening

Using social listening data can be a bit challenging. Here’s a few important social listening use cases that show how social listening can help you improve customer satisfaction and grow your business. Let’s take a look at the table of contents and find the most beneficial solution for your business.

12 powerful ways social listening can grow your business

  1. Improve your customer service
  2. Find new leads
  3. Track and measure your marketing campaigns
  4. Improve customer engagement
  5. Access customer insights
  6. Identify social media influencers
  7. Protect your brand reputation
  8. Reveal purchase decision factors
  9. Prepare content tailored to your audience needs
  10. Find top talents for your company
  11. Back up your marketing and competitors research
  12. Measure the value of your organic search.

1. Social listening improves your customer service

Customer service is a very popular application of social listening — and an effective one at that, as the Internet has become the place for people to: rant about poor experiences with products and services, look for solutions to problems, and commend brands on good service, etc…

It’s just easier for customers to tweet at a brand on Twitter instead of trying to reach an automated call center… and then get put on hold for hours just so they can ask a simple question that isn’t on your website (but should be).

Start social listening with Brand24

Social listening gives brands a big leg up when it comes to taking care of customers who’ve encountered problems with their product.

Improve the quality of your customer service by taking full advantage of online and social media channels. It’s a simple fact: people hate waiting almost as much as they hate to be ignored. The sooner you can provide service to your customers, the better.

Social listening tools (like Brand24) collect questions and complaints about your brand as soon as they’re posted, so your customer service representatives can answer any questions or handle any problems as soon as possible.

Social listening case study: Virgin Trains

One of the best examples of great online customer service has to be this one from Virgin Trains:

A passenger was on a train headed to Glasgow from Euston when he got up to use the rest room. Just minutes later, he found himself in an urgent situation — he’d run out of toilet paper just when he needed it most (!). What would you do if that were you?

This passenger decided to tweet about it, unabashedly informing the company about his dilemma.

Virgin Trains quickly tweeted back, promptly taking care of the issue both online and onboard.

An ultimate guide to social listening — examples of customer service via Twitter from Virgin Trains

2. Social listening can help you find leads

Apart from providing good service for your customers, social listening also helps you gain new ones by generating sales leads. The key is to listen for mentions of keywords that are relevant to your particular social listening goals.

How to do social listening for lead generation?

In this case, it’s a good idea to monitor several types of keywords, including: your product or service, particular product features, specific industry terms related to your business, the name of your brand or company, and your competitors. Monitor mentions of these keywords with social listening to find potential leads who have an active interest in your type of product or service.

It is so easy for customers to ask for online recommendations and search for advice on the web before making any purchase decisions now. In the span of just one month, Brand24 collected almost 45,000 mentions that included the question “where can I buy”.  There is enormous space for brands to join in on the conversation and suggest their products to prospects who really need them.

Create your first project! Discover the power of social listening

We use Brand24 ourselves to find people who are looking for recommendations for good social media listening tools.

Our community managers then do a great job of interacting with these users to let them know about Brand24. This is one of our best methods of identifying new leads and has one of the highest conversion rates, too.

Why? Because we reach out to people who have a real need for our product.

An ultimate guide to social listening — community manager interaction with sales lead

Social listening case study: Brayola

Naturally, there are many more examples of brands reaching out to potential leads on the Internet. For instance, Brayola uses social listening to help prospective customers find their ideal bras.

How? By listening for online conversations about uncomfortable bras.

An ultimate guide to social listening — Influence of social media authors in Brand24

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Then Brayola consultants join the discussion and offer their assistance in customizing the perfect bras while promoting the brand and their products to the audience.

An ultimate guide to social listening — brayola tweets to proscpects

3. Use social listening to support your marketing campaigns

Nowadays, it is pretty common to see a dedicated hashtag accompany a marketing campaign, especially since it has proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase both reach and user engagement.

Monitoring online conversations on different social channels will help you gather the social media data that could benefit your brand’s marketing campaigns. Social listening tools automatically calculate reach, engagement, sentiment and other metrics useful for assessing your marketing efforts.

Moreover, you can easily export the data to show your customers the value of social listening.

Discover social listening!

Somersby, a leading brand of cider from Danish brewing company Carlsberg Group, is an excellent example of this. They’ve designed numerous hashtag campaigns that have successfully engaged fans, and amplifying their success by building strong relationships with bloggers and influencers.

For instance, when they introduced a new variety of Somersby to the Polish market, they worked with dozens of bloggers and encouraged people to share content (especially photos) with a dedicated hashtag.

An ultimate guide to social listenings — sentiment structure somersby blackberry campaign

This campaign not only improved the overall brand sentiment towards Somersby, it also gained tremendous social media reach. Beyond that, the new beverage became a bestselling beer in its category and the brand executed what became an annual sales plan in just 4 months.

Check out another social media listening case study: Somersby Social Engagement Case Study

4. Use social media listening for customer engagement

These days, more brands than ever are engaging in online conversations with their fans and clients. Once a user posts something on the Internet that is related to either a brand or an entire industry, social media managers are there to interact with the audience.

This is a great way to increase customer engagement on the Internet, extend your online reach and win over your audience. If your response is timely, intelligent and humorous yet consistent with your brand image (you should not be making jokes if your company’s profile is very formal), you can easily grab your audience’s attention.

Social media listening case study: PlayStation

Take a cue from PlayStation’s social media monitoring strategy and see how they join online discussions to increase audience engagement and increase brand loyalty.

PlayStation uses social listening to find conversations that are related to gaming, gamers and the brand itself. Then they invent creative and funny responses to engage their audience and encourage gamers to play on the PS console.

An ultimate guide to social listening — Interact with users PlayStation
An ultimate guide to social listening— Interact with users: Sony PlayStation driving engagement

5. Social listening gives you access to important customer insights

Today’s consumers are more open to sharing their opinions and reviews about the products or services that they use (or maybe they just have more avenues of doing so now).

Naturally, the easiest way to share is on the Internet, where users can post about their experiences using different products and brands — and automatically share these posts with a great deal of other consumers. Frequently, this is also where users provide candid suggestions and feedback on these goods and services. The Internet is a powerful source of valuable customer insights.

Discover the power of social listening!

Smart brands leverage these product insights and implement them in their product development processes, which is what GoPro did when they came out with their new camera — GoPro Hero4.

Social listening case study: GoPro

We analyzed the online discussions regarding both releases: Hero3+ and Hero4.

The user insights gathered during the Hero3+ premiere included lots of suggestions for features that could improve the user experience, which then appeared in the next model — GoPro Hero4.

Customer insights shared on the Internet among friends (and strangers) are often seen as being more reliable than those from other sources, because they’re considered to be more honest and genuine — even if they’re negative.

That’s why it’s important to listen to your audience. Your users and clients can (and probably do) give you valuable advice on how to improve your products and services. After all, they are the ones using them, so they know best about what would make these products even more appealing.

An ultimate guide to social listening — an example of customer insight for Taco Bell

6. Identify influencers with social listening

Collaborating with social media influencers can bring you measurable results. Of course, it’s best to work with influencers who are genuinely interested in your company or its value proposition.

An ultimate guide to social listening — print screen showing the most influential online mentions

Social listening makes it possible for you to discover social media influencers who would be a good match to work with your brand.

If you are listening for mentions of your brand / company / business across the Internet, you can see what kind of people post about these topics inside the Brand24 Analysis Tab. The top profiles talking about your brand may be potential influencers that you can work with, and some of them may have cultivated significant followings.

An ultimate guide to social listening — print screen showing the most influential public profiles you can use to benefit your business

However, just because someone may have mentioned your brand in one of their posts doesn’t necessarily mean that he or she will resonate with what your brand is promoting.

When searching for influencers, it’s important to also refer to the data from at least one more column inside the Analysis Tab: Share of Voice (Voice Share in the image). This metric considers the social media reach + total number of mentions of each profile; these factors combined inform us on the role that these profiles played in the total number of the discussions about your brand as a whole on the Internet.

If a user has a high Share of Voice for mentions of your brand, it means they generate more discussions about it. This indicates that they could be good potential brand ambassadors or influencers for you to work with. You can also filter by Influencer Score in the Mentions (or Sources) Tab to view profiles according to influence.

Social media listening case study: Zortrax

A very good example of a company that uses social media listening to find influencers is Zortrax, a Polish producer of professional 3D printing solutions.

Zortrax values the relationships that they have built with their clients — including satisfied customers who publish content about their brand. The company finds influential profiles through social listening and converts them into loyal brand ambassadors. They also have an eager group of “activists” who evangelize and educate the online community, e.g., on how to use 3D printers. This is extremely important, as loyal customers can provide your brand with the type of authentic promotion that no paid advertisement can give you.

7. Social listening helps protect your brand reputation

This is the most common and obvious social listening use case, and an extremely important one as well. Very often, a fast response to a negative review or fake comment can prevent a brand reputation crisis.

For instance, brandjacking is when someone impersonates a brand online, often with malicious intent, and it can cause a lot of damage to your reputation if not spotted early on. These virtual imposters can post anything they want to hurt your business and make you look bad in front of your customers.

An ultimate guide to social listening

If you discover a fake profile like this early enough, you can immediately rectify the situation and nip social outrage in the bud.

This also concerns unsatisfied customers who complain about your service or product. If you can spot their public comments before too many people see them, you can try to solve the problem before it gets out of hand.

8. Social listening data reveals purchase decision factors

Learning which factors have the greatest influence on customer purchase decisions is possibly the most valuable customer insight you can derive from social listening. Recommendations that are left on web forums and other online platforms often include detailed descriptions of a user’s experience with a product or service, which can influence consumer decisions.

9. Social listening helps you find content marketing inspiration 

Social listening is widely used by many bloggers who are looking for content inspiration. All bloggers and writers have probably struggled at some point with finding ideas on what to write about. Social listening tools can be a big help here by providing you with insights into what is trending on the Internet and what people want to read about.

It’s a fairly simple process; you just need to monitor relevant keywords. Naturally, keyword selection depends on your industry and topic of your blog.

For example, let’s take a blog that helps companies find solutions to develop their business. In this case, we should think about the catchiest key phrases related to this topic. Which tags and hashtags do they use? What are the most common words in this field?

In this case, we are interested in “growth hacking”, “grow your business” and “business growth” (separated with commas), which often appear as buzzwords in relation to tips, strategies and tricks for business development.

Don’t forget to also include these phrases as hashtags!

One of our clients — Veeu Network, a digital video company, uses social listening precisely in this area. Before writing any scripts for new videos, they first dig into recent social media discussions to find the most relevant topics of the moment according to their fans.

Check out this social listening case study: Veeu Network’s video strategies.

10. Make sure you hire the best employees with social listening

Human Resources is another department that can benefit from social listening. People post about everything on Including, including when they’re searching for a job. HR specialists who know how to use social listening as a recruitment tool are able to find a broader pool of potential candidates to fill an urgent vacancy in less time.

You can easily set up a project to monitor phrases like “looking for a job”, “I need a job”, etc. Results can be curbed to specific geographic regions and industries by adding ‘Required keywords’.

Once Brand24 collects some mentions, you’re ready to start reaching out to potential employees. Respond to their tweets or posts on LinkedIn, or send private messages asking for more details about their personal background. Who you reach out to and the questions you ask are totally up to you, and depends on the job.

11. Social listening backs up market research

Do you plan to introduce a new product or implement a social media campaign? Or do you want to know what your competitors are up to?

Social listening will help you spot all mentions that are relevant to your business. And that include listening to conversations about your direct and indirect competitors.

An ultimate guide to social listening — print screen from a media monitoring tool  that will help you do your market research

There are many ways to approach this and social listening is one of the most reliable methods. You can derive a lot of information about your target group based on the data that you monitor, including: user demographics, preferred online channels, and when your audience is most active — not to mention their levels of engagement, context of public discussions, and much more.

An ultimate guide to social listening

This data can help you design the most effective marketing strategy. You can learn where you should implement your campaign, the best days/weeks/months to run it, the best hours for posting on social (visible inside the Brand24 Excel report) and it also shows you the kind of language you should use in order to convey your message in a way that will resonate with your prospects and clients.

Of course, there’s much more that you can learn from media monitoring data.

12. Social listening measures the value of organic reach

Measuring the value of your organic (free!) reach is especially useful for agencies and CMOs that need to report the results of their strategies to a board of directors — in the form of tangible numbers.

Traditional marketing focuses on outdoor, TV, or press advertisements, and pays less attention to online channels. This is a (costly) waste, as marketing data from online channels is actually much more accurate and measurable than data from offline sources.

For instance, you cannot precisely estimate how many people have made a purchase decision after watching a TV commercial. However, if you display the same ad online, you can collect precise information about conversion rates at each step of the customer acquisition process.

An effective social listening tool, like Brand24, can help you estimate the value of online discussions about your brand. Taking into consideration factors such as: the size of the profiles that mention your brand, and the reach of their content + number of interactions — you can learn how many people have potentially seen mentions regarding your brand.

Using this data, you can effectively calculate the estimated value of these mentions and discussions regarding your brand.

The Estimated Reach is equivalent to the amount of exposure that you receive from your online marketing activities.

Not only does social listening show you how many people have encountered online content about your brand, your marketing campaigns and your products — it also helps you estimate the online advertising value, which is the real market value of an asset in terms of the average market cost of advertising after discounts.

Try Brand24 for free now and grow your business with powerful social listening!

Social listening tools

There are different social listening tools — there are enterprise solutions, that offer image recognition and other fancy analytical features. There are social media listening tools that collect and analyse social media mentions. And lastly, there is a social listening tool like Brand24— and affordable option that monitors the Web and social media and offers robust analytics and reporting features.

Without further ado, here’s our list!

Brand24

Brand24 is a robust and affordable social listening tool available on the market. The tool collects mentions in real-time from various sources, including:

  • social media platforms, including Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Tiktok, and Twitch
  • news sites and blogs
  • review sites
  • podcasts
  • newsletters
  • other publicly available Web sources and online conversations

To start media monitoring, enter the brand name in the project creation wizard.

Once all brand mentions are collected, it’s time to take a look at the analytics section. You will find there different metrics, for example:

  • social and non-social reach
  • sentiment analysis
  • the most popular brand mentions
  • presence score to help you measure brand awareness
  • list of trending hashtags
  • list of top public profiles
  • list of most active countries
  • the context of a discussion

Of course, you can create a project for your brand competitors and get business insights into your business niche.

But that’s not all. Monitoring conversations is one thing, but you also have to be aware of the online chatter. That’s why, Brand24 offers notifications systems:

  • daile email alers
  • storm alers
  • in-app notifications (both for iOS and Android)

Once you have all the media intelligence you need, you can export the data into customisable PDF reports.

Get started with Brand24! We offer a 14-day free trial (no credit card required)

Brandwatch

Brandwatch is an enterprise social listening tool. It means it’s more expensive, but it also offers more sophisticated data.

Brandwatch collects mentions in real-time. The tool collects data from social networks and other publicly available online sources.

When it comes to analytics, Brandwatch offers:

  • geolocation
  • image recognition
  • demographic data
  • API access
  • industry trends.

Moreover, the tool developed a separate platform called Vizia, that will present the most valuable insights on a silver plate. Vizia helps you visualise data in real-time and share the insights with your team. You can search for mentions about your brand or create a project on your main competitors to get

The tool doesn’t offer a free trial period, but you can schedule a demo call.

Tweetreach

Tweetreach is a social media monitoring tool that focuses on Twitter. The tool will help you answer a very important question: how far did your tweets travel?

Social media listening tool will let you know how your posts performed across Twitter. You will able to identify content that resonates with your target audience. You will be able to plan content distribution across different social media networks. Moreover, monitoring social platform will tell you who is promoting your brand across Twitter.

The starter plan costs $49 per month and you can monitor one Twitter topic.

Buffer

Buffer is not only a social media listening tool. It offers much more than us that.

Buffer is a social media management tool that will help you schedule your social media posts across different different platforms. You can easily reach your potential customers and increase the awareness of your brand.

Buffer is collecting data across different social media platforms and helps you understand your audience behaviour.

Buffer starts at $35 and offers a 14-day free trial.

Keyhole

Keyhole is another social media monitoring tool that covers major social networks, including Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.

The tool collects social media mentions and provides all the data you need to make more informed decisions.

Enter the name of your brand and use social listening to track analytics, such as sentiment analysis, keyword clouds, and geo data of your mentions.

Keyhole starts at $199 and offers a free trial.

Social listening and social media monitoring in a nutshell

Social media monitoring and listening should be an integral part of your business strategy. The process will help you identify the crucial online mentions that will help you improve your product, service, or brand.

Moreover, social listening is a versatile process. Many different departments can use the insights gathered during the process. Dedicated tools make the social listening a piece of cake. Ready to try it?