Social Media Listening: What it is, Benefits & Strategies

In this post, we discuss how social media listening is benefiting businesses, with over 4.7 billion people engaging online. Social media listening goes beyond tracking brand mentions, offering strategic insights into consumer behavior, emerging trends, and competitive intelligence. We delve into its significance, differences from monitoring, and practical applications for businesses, including enhancing customer service, informing product development, and managing crises. Additionally, we highlight five top social listening tools for 2024 and provide guidance on starting an effective social listening strategy.

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With over 4.7 billion people using social media worldwide, the significance of social media cannot be understated. It's not just a place for casual networking; it's a hub of real-time conversations and opinions that shape brand perception. 

However, in the bustling world of tweets, posts, and shares, the key to staying relevant lies not just in participating in these conversations but strategically listening to them. This is where social media listening comes into play. 

Social media listening goes beyond merely tracking mentions and comments about your brand. It's a strategic approach that empowers you to delve into the nuances of your audience's conversations. You gain invaluable insights into consumer behavior, emerging trends, and competitive intelligence. 

In this article, we’ll discuss what social media listening is and how to leverage it effectively to make your brand stand out and stay ahead of the curve.

Let’s dive in!

What is Social Listening?

Social listening is the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what customers are saying about a brand or industry online. It involves tracking social media channels for mentions of your brand, competitors, products, and more, then analyzing this information to make strategic decisions. 

The scope of social media listening extends far beyond merely observing direct mentions and hashtags. It encompasses a wide range of digital interactions that can provide insights into brand health, customer sentiment, and emerging industry trends. This practice allows companies to capture real-time feedback on consumer perceptions that traditional market research methods might miss. 

What’s the Difference Between Social Listening and Social Monitoring?

Understanding the distinction between social listening and social media monitoring is crucial for strategically managing your brand's online presence. While both the terms are often used interchangeably, social listening and social monitoring are distinct practices in the world of social media marketing: 

How Can a Social Listening Strategy Help Your Business?

Social listening offers a wealth of insights by tracking what consumers say about your brand, competitors, and industry online. This strategic approach can significantly enhance your decision-making process and help you engage with your audience more effectively. Here are some more reasons why social listening strategy helps your business grow: 

Identifying Trends and Consumer Sentiments

Through social media listening, you can tap into the vast stream of user-generated content to detect prevailing sentiment and emerging trends related to your brand. About 61% of businesses have implemented social listening systems to monitor their keyword mentions. 

By analyzing conversations, mentions, and hashtags, you're equipped to understand how consumers perceive your brand. This continuous flow of insights allows prompt identification of both positive and negative sentiment trends, enabling businesses to act swiftly and strategically.

For example, consider Starbucks, a brand that has effectively harnessed a social listening strategy. Starbucks is well-known for its seasonal offerings, particularly the Pumpkin Spice Latte (PSL). 


Through social listening, Starbucks was able to gauge the immense popularity and anticipation for the PSL each year. The discussions and sentiments shared across social media platforms not only confirm the drink’s status as a cultural icon but also guide Starbucks in optimizing its marketing strategies, timing for re-launches, and even in creating spin-off products.

Enhancing Customer Service and Engagement

A brand’s responsiveness on social platforms can be a game-changer. A staggering 71% of consumers claim that observing how a brand addresses complaints on social media positively sways their perception. When you actively listen and engage, you show that you’re attentive and committed to customer satisfaction. Also, the quicker and more personal your response, the better the engagement and customer satisfaction.

For example, JetBlue Airways has leveraged social media listening to elevate its customer service. By monitoring social conversations and rapidly responding to customer needs on Twitter, often within a groundbreaking 15 minutes, JetBlue sets a high bar for customer service response times. 


This not only displays their dedication to customer service but also enhances consumer engagement, fostering a strong brand image and consumer loyalty.

Informing Product Development and Marketing Strategies

Social listening data is pivotal in shaping both product development and marketing strategies. Understanding the chatter across social platforms allows you to grasp what features customers are rooting for and the effectiveness of your current offerings. Leveraging social media insights steers product innovation towards user desires and identifies gaps in the market.

Let's consider Nike as a real-world example. The brand exemplifies how to utilize social listening strategy to finesse its marketing messages and product offerings. By attending to the discussions and feedback within its diverse customer base, Nike not only meets but anticipates customers' needs. 


A prime instance is Nike's release of the Pro Hijab, which addressed a specific requirement from Muslim female athletes. Such a targeted approach not only enhances product relevance in the eyes of consumers but also fosters a deeper sense of brand allegiance.

Competitive Analysis and Market Positioning

When you engage in social listening, you're empowering your brand to perform real-time competitive analysis and refine market positioning. By observing the strategies that resonate with your target audiences, you can also pinpoint the ones that falter. This allows for strategic adaptation that aligns with customer expectations and market shifts. 

Incorporating a social listening strategy into your approach ensures that your brand stays informed and decisive in responding to competitive challenges and consumer preferences. 

Consider Coca-Cola's strategy as a prime example. With social listening efforts, Coca-Cola maintains vigilance on its brand health and observes competitor movement closely.  This sensitivity to social chatter allowed them to rapidly adapt to the increasing demand for healthier drinks. 


As a result, they successfully launched Coke Zero along with other low-sugar drinks, reinforcing Coca-Cola’s leading position in the beverage sector.

Crisis Management and Brand Reputation Monitoring

By proactively monitoring social media conversations, you can detect issues early and address them promptly to mitigate potential damage. Importantly, 71% of consumers expect companies to respond to a crisis on Twitter within an hour, highlighting the need for immediacy in your digital strategy.

In practice, an effective response to a crisis can make all the difference for your brand reputation. Take KFC's response to a chicken shortage in the UK. When faced with operational setbacks leading to the closure of stores, KFC used social listening to gauge the public's reaction. 


They managed a masterful apology in print media which was picked up positively on social media, quickly regaining customer goodwill.

5 Best Social Listening Tools to Use In 2024

In an age where information is power, social media listening tools are essential for gathering social media insights. With the right tools, you can monitor and analyze conversations about your brand, competitors, and industry to stay ahead of the curve. Here are the 5 best social media listening tools to use in 2024: 



Phyllo specializes in providing a comprehensive Social Listening API designed to gather insights and analyze social media conversations in real-time. With Phyllo, you have access to a powerful tool that helps your brand monitor and engage with online discourse effectively, ensuring that you stay informed about what's being said about you across major social platforms.

Key Features:

  • Real-Time Intelligence: Benefit from continuous data updates, allowing you to tap into the latest social media conversations and sentiments as they unfold.
  • AI-Enhanced Analysis: Advance your strategy with AI tools that assess your target audience sentiment, relevance scores, and ranking, making sense of large data sets efficiently.
  • Cost-Effective Integration: Reduce your expenditure on integration efforts by up to 80% thanks to a streamlined service that connects you to multiple platforms through a single API.
  • Competitive Intelligence: Gain insights into competitors' strategies and market standing, giving you the foresight to make proactive business decisions.
  • Influencer Identification: Discover and partner with influencers who resonate with your brand values, enhancing your market presence and reputation.
  • Brand Protection: Monitor the digital space vigilantly to avoid potential PR issues and swiftly catch and address brand-related issues.

Phyllo's Social Listening API is not just a technical solution; it’s a strategic asset for your brand. With Phyllo, you can unlock a deeper understanding of social media dynamics, infuse intelligence into your engagement efforts, and carve a path to greater return on investment.

Also read: How Beacons uses Phyllo to create the perfect media kit for creators to be successful



Hootsuite is a comprehensive social media management tool that lets you oversee multiple accounts and platforms from a single dashboard. It simplifies social media strategies by allocating all necessary functionalities within reach.

Key features:

  • Social Media Streams: With Hootsuite, you can customize and set up social media streams to monitor conversations, keywords, mentions, and hashtags relevant to your business. 
  • Unified Dashboard: You're equipped to monitor and immediately respond to social interactions across platforms through one dashboard. 
  • Competition Monitoring: Hootsuite's tools allow you to track competitor activities, giving you insight into their strategies and performance.
  • Influencer Engagement: Build and maintain relationships with influencers and brand advocates directly through your dashboard. 



Talkwalker is a comprehensive social listening tool that captures a wide spectrum of data across the internet. It is leveraged by brands to tap into consumer conversations, sentiment analysis, and emerging trends across various social media channels. 

Key Features:

  • Real-Time Analytics: Access immediate insights from discussions happening across more than 150 million sources, including blogs, forums, and social networks.
  • Engagement Metrics: Measure your brand's social engagement, including likes, shares, and comments.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Gauge public opinion with an advanced sentiment analysis feature, allowing you to assess the tone of conversations about your brand.
  • Data Filtering: Employ advanced filters to narrow down the data that matters most, ensuring you're not overwhelmed by the volume of available information.
  • Alerts System: Set up real-time alerts to stay informed of any spikes in brand mentions or relevant keywords, keeping you at the forefront of any emerging issues or trends.

Also read: Instagram Monitoring: How to Set Up and Which Instagram Tools Are Best



Mentionlytics is a comprehensive AI-powered web and social media monitoring tool that provides insights by tracking brand mentions, keywords, and sentiment across a variety of social media channels. This tool caters to the need to strategize your online presence by providing real-time data, which is essential in understanding audience perception and engagement.

Key Features:

  • Mentions Tracking: Keeps a tab on your online mentions from social media, forums, news sites, and blogs.
  • Sentiment Analysis: Detect the emotion behind each mention, whether it's positive, neutral, or negative.
  • Multilingual Support: You can monitor keywords and conversations in multiple languages, providing a global scope.
  • Influencer Identification: Identify and track top influencers that engage with your brand or industry.

Also read: How to Grow Your Brand with Micro-Influencer Marketing

Sprout Social Smart Inbox


Sprout Social's Smart Inbox is an innovative tool designed for efficient social media management. By gathering all social media messages and notifications into one consolidated stream, it significantly streamlines the process of social listening and engagement across platforms. 

This unified Smart Inbox allows you to not only monitor but also actively engage with the conversations surrounding your brand without the hassle of switching between different social network accounts.

Key Features:

  • Brand Keywords: This feature finds Twitter conversations about your brand, industry trends, or competitors, even when they're not directly tagged. Brand Keywords perform continuous searches, bringing you relevant discussions that you can join right from your Smart Inbox.
  • No Tag? No Problem: Not all mentions or relevant content include tags or hashtags. The Smart Inbox catches these untagged messages through custom searches, ensuring you don't miss out on important discussions.
  • Time-Efficient Tracking: Manual searches for brand mentions are exhaustive. The Smart Inbox eliminates this burden by automatically tracking the conversations, so you can focus on engaging rather than searching.
  • Trends Report: Understand the buzz around your brand with the Trends Report, which showcases popular topics and hashtags, as well as key influencers and brands engaged in conversations with your business on Twitter.

How to Get Started with Social Media Listening?

Social media listening is an insightful process that goes beyond merely tracking metrics. Here’s how you can get started with social media listening: 

Identifying Key Objectives 

When defining your social media listening strategy, it's crucial to first identify your key objectives. These objectives will shape the kinds of data you collect, how you analyze it, and the actions you take. Brand health, competitor analysis, and customer service are three common goals you might focus on.

  • Brand Health: To assess your brand's presence and reputation online, you may want to track metrics such as share of voice, sentiment analysis, and brand mentions. This gives you a clear picture of how your brand is perceived.
  • Competitor Analysis: You can gain actionable insights by monitoring your competitors. Look for their customers' perceptions, emerging threats, and market opportunities. This information can guide your strategic decisions and help differentiate your offerings.
  • Customer Service: Social media listening allows for real-time customer feedback. By monitoring mentions of your brand, you can swiftly address customer concerns and improve satisfaction rates.

In order to track and measure these objectives effectively, establish relevant KPIs. For example, if brand health is your goal, sentiment analysis could be an appropriate KPI. Regularly measuring these KPIs will inform you if your strategy needs adjustment and if you're meeting your targets.

Segmenting Data for Targeted Analysis 

Social media listening involves sifting through vast amounts of online conversations to understand what customers are saying about your brand. Segmentation plays a pivotal role here. Below are ways to slice your social media data to get more actionable insights.

By Platform:

  • Identify which social media platforms are most used by your target audience.
  • Understand the different types of engagement: likes, shares, comments, and message sentiment.
  • Analyze patterns like peak activity times and trending content for each platform.

By Demographic:

  • Divide your audience by age, gender, income level, education, or occupation.
  • Determine which demographic group talks about your brand and how they perceive it.
  • Track changes in sentiment across different demographics to align your marketing efforts.

By Geographic Location:

  • Categorize conversations based on countries, cities, or regions.
  • Localize content and campaigns to resonate with each area’s unique cultural context.
  • Monitor the geographic spread of conversations to gauge where your brand is gaining traction.

Your goal is to leverage these segments for a more targeted analysis that drives strategic decisions and bespoke campaigns. Tailoring your social media listening by platform, demographic, and geographic location enables sharper insights and a more powerful connection with your audience.

Setting Up Alerts and Triggers for Real-time Response

To effectively respond to events on social media, setting up alerts and triggers is essential. Alerts notify you when specific keywords or phrases are mentioned, while triggers can automate actions in response to these alerts.

By setting up comprehensive alerts and triggers, you'll be prepared to respond rapidly and effectively, maintaining the integrity and status of your brand in the digital space. By deploying real-time alerts, you can: 

  • Quickly address negative feedback, turning potential crises into opportunities for customer service excellence.
  • Capitalize on positive mentions, amplifying good publicity and customer advocacy.

Here’s how to implement alerts:

  • Begin by identifying keywords and phrases relevant to your brand, including common misspellings.
  • Use a social media monitoring tool to track these keywords across different platforms.

Configuring Triggers:

  • Automate responses to common questions using triggers, providing immediate assistance.
  • Triggers can also notify team members to engage with a trending topic or address a PR issue promptly.

Building a Team or Assigning Responsibilities for Social Listening

It's critical to establish a dedicated team or assign clear responsibilities to ensure effective monitoring and analysis. Here are key steps and roles to consider:

  • Identify Key Roles: Determine the specific roles within your team. At the core, you'll likely need a Social Media Analyst to monitor mentions and trends, a Community Manager to engage with the audience, and a Data Analyst to interpret data and report insights.
  • Assign Tasks Clearly: Be specific about each team member's tasks. For example, the Social Media Analyst might track brand mentions across platforms, while the Data Analyst focuses on measuring sentiment and extracting patterns from data.
  • Equip with Tools: Provide your team with the appropriate tools for monitoring and analyzing social media conversations efficiently.
  • Regular Training: Social media evolves rapidly. Keep your team's skills sharp with ongoing training on the latest tools and techniques.
  • Communication Flow: Establish a system where insights lead to action. For example, the Data Analyst should know how to communicate findings so that the Marketing team can adapt strategies accordingly.

Remember, a well-structured team with defined roles is key in leveraging the full potential of social media listening, turning online conversations into strategic insights for your brand.

Final Thoughts!

Understanding the whispers and shouts of social media can position a brand for remarkable success. Social media listening is not just about tracking what is said; it's about understanding the deeper implications of those conversations to drive strategic business decisions. From enhancing customer engagement to gaining competitive intelligence and increasing ROI, the benefits of deep social listening are vast.

Ready to transform these insights into actionable strategies? Start with Phyllo's Social Listening API. Experience the power of continuous real-time data refresh, save up to 80% on integration costs, and leverage AI-driven enhancements like relevance scores and brand rankings. 

With Phyllo, you can not only monitor but also analyze and act on social conversations across all major platforms. This capability enables you to identify influential partners, gain advanced competitor intelligence, and avoid potential PR crisis effectively.

Embrace the future of social intelligence with Phyllo's Social Listening API. Discover how to enhance your brand’s strategy today.

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