How do some large organisations manage to set trends? Think of Netflix as an example; how do they figure out which genres resonate well with their audience and which ones are a miss? The answer is Social Listening!

Social Listening means to monitor Social Media Channels to gain further insights about your brand or your industry.

It is is a powerful tool to understand what your audience cares about.

Are you lacking feedback for your services? Are you running out of new business ideas? You should not just assume what your customers care about, you should know. Social media gives you the incredible opportunity not only to monitor anything related to your brand, product or service but also anything related to your industry.

What is Social Listening?

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While monitoring is a great way to create real opportunities to start a dialogue with customers and anyone interested in your product, it still is a very reactive approach. You are waiting for others to create data to use for your strategies. And if you are a big dog like Netflix, that does work really well. However, social listening rather focuses on the insights coming from that data. It helps you to analyze and discover trending topics and to spot changes in sentiment towards your brand or within your industry early on. That gives you time to react and change your strategy in real time which might at some point save you from a shitstorm. It’s also a great way to identify leading voices within your industry. Getting influencers on board is not only a great way to promote your product but also shows that you care about your audience.

But how is SL going to help your business?

If you are a bigger brand and customers are talking about you and your product already,

Social Listening might help you to identify common issues with your product, where do people misunderstand it. Additionally, you will get a good feeling of positive and negative mentions.

However, even as a small brand, there are still plenty of opportunities to use your insights. Find out which social media channels potential customers primarily use and improve your reach. Want to grow your following? By researching industry trends and figuring out what your target audience really cares about you will be able to create more engaging content. You are struggling to find relevant content? Again, listen to your customers and what they are into. You might even be able to identify a new business opportunity by identifying relevant pain points.

How do you listen?

Similar approaches have been around for many years. It just got way easier with new tools.

Here is a list of some old school tools you can use to gather insights:

  • Google Alert is a free tool that enables you to follow discussions online and monitors mentions of certain keywords.
  • Google Trends is another free tool that suggests popular topics based on search enquiries. It shows you how often the topic has been searched for and its popularity history, filtered worldwide or by country.
  • Social Mention is yet another free tool to research keywords and topics.
  • Twitter Advanced Search Queries is slightly more advanced, as the name suggests. By using the normal Twitter search bar, you can customise your results, find hashtags and trends and read real time comments to events.


There are also plenty of paid tools out there that combine the power of singular tools and do the hard work for you. Hootsuite and Sprout for example have got integrated tools that help you create reports about mentions, user sentiments, share of voice etc. and can save you time.

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