4 min read

What is social media monitoring and why is it important?

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Social media monitoring is also sometimes known as social listening but the two should not be confused. So, what’s the difference between them? Do you want the corporate BS or the truth?

What is social media monitoring?


Social media monitoring is the process of listening out for social media conversations that are relevant to your brand. By identifying and determining what is being said about a brand, individual or product through different social and online channels, social media monitoring can give a glimpse into what's being said about a brand in real time.

Looking at analytics

Businesses engage in social media monitoring for several reasons, for example to know about:

  • Brand mentions (with or without direct tagging, aka @mention)
  • Relevant hashtags
  • Mentions of your competitors
  • General trends that apply to your industry

Social media monitoring also helps track key social metrics like brand awareness and social share of voice. This information can be used to test messaging and measure ROI.

What is the difference between monitoring and listening?

Listen Up

I could be telling you that  social media monitoring is about the past, and social listening is about the future. Or that it's about social listening is about insights and media monitoring is about data.

The truth is, no one really knows and we're all just making this up as we go. It's really that simple. What you should know is that they are used interchangeably. But, what you should also know is that "media monitoring" is what the older traditional media monitoring agencies called it. Then came social media and a new breed of companies sprung up to offer "social media listening". No one took them seriously at first.

In fact, the bigger media monitoring companies also offer social listening as a subset of their services. They were originally geared toward the PR industry, but that has shifted gradually to service Marketing professionals, with the emphasis on insights that are a lot cheaper to deliver with social media data than it is with traditional media.

Media monitoring is about gathering information; capturing what people are saying or posting about a brand or topic. It is used to measure what is already achieved, and create a record of what is happening in the social space.

We like to think of the social listening part is more active and strategic. Using data for actionable insights such as engaging a happy customer to shifting brand positioning strategy. Social listening uses the data gathered to improve your social media strategy.

Should business be using social media monitoring?

Absolutely! Social monitoring tools help gather publicly available data and organize it. By becoming aware of what is said about your company you can reconnect with prospective customers using the same social channels.

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Once you have an idea of your company's public perception, you can:

  • See the big picture of what is being said about your brand from all Social and Web sources
  • React in real time with consumers on social platforms
  • Determine how certain demographics feel about your brand
  • Use positive feedback in marketing, etc.
  • Build brand credibility
  • Refine marketing spend by eliminating channels with the lowest engagement levels
  • See which social media marketing campaigns are performing the best and the worst.
  • Find out who your top influencers are

 What are some other ways social media monitoring can be helpful to a business?

Beyond your brand

It’s important to track conversations about your brand, your products, and your competitors. But you can also monitor conversations that might give you a better picture of the overall industry. Understanding competitor metrics can provide a fuller picture of the state of your industry, and where you brand fits.

Benchmark against your competitors

Monitoring your social share of voice is a way to know when there are changes in your standing compared to your competitors. When you can see changes happen in real time to you share of voice, you can dig deeper to see what’s changed, and strategize ways to regain your standing.