Social Media Monitoring Vs Social Listening – What’s The Difference?

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Understanding the difference between the two is crucial to successfully formulate and implement an attractive social media marketing campaigns for a business . Yet not many are conversant with the difference between the two and use them interchangeably. The difference is subtle but important. While social monitoring talks about what is being said, social listening will tell you why it is being said.

The definitions of the two help to illustrate this difference further. So let us take a brief look at the two terms individually.

Social media monitoring

You can provide better care for your customers by monitoring your brand-related social media messages and reacting to them appropriately. Individual brand mentions also need to be identified and responded. All conversations taking place online regarding topics, keywords, brands, individuals and products of your interest can be tracked using social media monitoring.

Social listening

This deals with reaching out to people who need your content, information and reaction. Real discussions are explored so they can be turned into opportunities for:

  • Engaging and attracting people,
  • Building brand awareness and
  • Improving brand visibility and reputation.

The difference between the two terms is more than semantic. Both of these terminologies are heavily emphasized in any professional digital marketing course because of their significance in successful business marketing campaigns.  They are two different unique strategies. But what makes them so unique and effective? Let us take up each parameter separately and understand the difference between these two terms.

Micro vs. macro

Social monitoring and social listening address customers on different scales. In social monitoring, social media managers or customer care executives are tasked with providing appropriate responses to customer issues and queries or any other comments that they leave on your website. They monitor the notification feeds and then either provide an answer immediately or refer it to the higher authorities or right departments for quick resolutions. These actions, thus, take place on a micro-scale.

Social listening enables you to get the broader picture by macro analysing everything that online customers say about your brand. It gathers data from social monitoring and online customer interactions to form a data pool. This pool is then utilised to gain a comprehensive understanding:

  • Of what customers have to say about your brand and
  • How to help your brand gain better visibility and awareness.

Essentially speaking, both the strategies are different yet they work towards a single goal of ensuring superior customer care.

Proactive and reactive

Social monitoring is essentially a reactive strategy. Herein, the customer makes the first move on social media to reach out to your brand. Customer care representatives react to this by either solving the issue raised or answering their queries. Hence, while social monitoring a very crucial business strategy to adopt it limits customer interaction.

This is where social listening steps in. As a proactive strategy it enables brands to build upon the short-term interactions started by the customers. The insights gained from them are used to formulate long-term strategies. Thus, both social media monitoring and social listening complement each other. Social monitoring provides social listening with the means to be proactive while social listening helps analyze why the customer reacted in that way.

Another important advantage of social listening is that it enhances your understanding of the trends prevalent in your industry, customer experiences and your competitors. With this understanding, you can stay ahead of the competition and ensure superlative customer experiences.

Manual and automated

At its basic levels, in social monitoring, you can manually keep a track of all incoming customer queries and issues. Of course, social media app notifications help to aid this process. However, other than that everything else can be manually maintained.

Social listening depends on a robust automated technology for its survival. Data collection and its measurement can only be done using appropriate technology to automatically track trends, brand mentions, keywords etc. This aggregated data collected is then analyzed and presented in a way that makes it insightful, informative and easy to comprehend. Finding patterns and trends becomes easier and these can be further used to understand customer preferences and place your brand, products and services accordingly. Some important things this automated strategy helps you understand are:

  • Whether your brand mentions have gone up or come down
  • If the content you upload is effective in attracting customers
  • Reasons why people purchase your product or service or why they prefer your brand
  • Your target niche where you can position your brand and upload target specific content
  • Whether the marketing strategy adopted is yielding results
  • If the brand is receiving any negative feedback etc.

Fast vs. slow

Social monitoring enables you to provide a quick response. Therefore, potential customers can be quickly targeted and conversions effected. It also makes an effective watch tool to keep a tab on negative comments or mentions about your brand. The actions of partners, influencers and competitors and the outcome of events held can also be effectively monitored and actions taken swiftly.

Social listening proceeds at a slower pace. Several actions take place one after the other like data collection, its assessment and analysis by social media analysts and then empowering executives with the outcomes so that they formulate the best course of action.

Thus, while social monitoring can best be used to pursue short-term goals effectively, social listening helps you develop and fulfil long-term goals and objectives.

Important benefits of using social monitoring and social listening

Irrespective of whether you are looking or not, whether you are aware or not, people use social media platforms to talk about your brand. Thus, they are providing you with valuable information not caring whether you need it, like it or want it. You just have to collect this data. Social media monitoring and social listening, both help you do this. They are different means to the same end. However, to make effective use of these strategies, you need to know how they can benefit your branding individually and collectively.

Some important benefits directly affecting your business are:

  • Providing honest feedback: The non-curated feedback received will help you to re-evaluate your business operations and improve them wherever possible.
  • Enhance customer support: Social listening empowers you with ample information to go beyond just responding to queries and requests from customers. It transforms your customer service, makes it proactive thereby enabling you to develop a healthy relationship with your customers.
  • Lead generation: Because of the good customer relationship you build with your active presence and proactive responsiveness, your website will see a huge increase in referral traffic. This will lead to enhanced lead generation opportunities that when capitalized will reflect positively in Google analytics.
  • Competitive analysis: Social listening and social media monitoring help keep a track of the actions of your competitors. You can use this information to inspire your forthcoming course of action and learn from the mistakes that they make thereby ensuring that you do not repeat them.
  • Finding good influencers and advocates: Social listening will also help you identify friendly souls who work proactively in your defence. They can be used as influencers and advocates. You also gain access to relevant market knowledge that helps you identify niche influencers attracting the maximum attention.

The internet is like a vast ocean of information. Its unlimited space holds countless chat groups and social conversation channels, platforms of self-expression, blogs, articles, reviews etc. This provides you with a plethora of opportunities to understand your audience. Social media monitoring and social listening are tools that help you to capitalize on them and formulate killer social media marketing strategies.

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