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Understanding Social Monitoring vs. Social Listening vs. Omni-channel Listening

Sprinklr Team

May 6, 2021  •  4 min read

As we discussed in our last blog post, customer expectations have changed: Customers want an experience that is increasingly personal, real-time, and on the customer’s preferred channels. Today, we’re going to talk about the first step, which is building an omni-channel listening strategy aligned to modern channels.

Remember what you’re up against. According to the World Economic Forum, every day:

  • 500 million tweets are sent

  • 4 petabytes of data are generated on Facebook

  • 65 billion WhatsApp messages are sent

  • 65 million photos are shared on Instagram

Much of this data is public facing or available directly to brands. How do you start listening? Where do you start listening? And what are you listening for?

To build an effective listening strategy, first it’s important to understand the different kinds of listening, and the strengths and weaknesses of each. We’ve talked about social monitoring vs. social listening before, but it’s time to expand this strategy even further.

What is social monitoring?

Social monitoring is identifying and responding to individual brand mentions on social media. While important, social monitoring addresses customers on a micro scale. This is when care representatives or social media managers respond to incoming queries, issues, and comments that directly @mention the brand. They monitor a feed of notifications and provide an answer or refer the person to the right department, as they might in a call center.

This might work fine for small organizations, but for large brands, this simply isn’t scalable. Not only will larger brands need more sophisticated technology to automatically route action items to the right teams, this more narrow approach risks missing out on a huge volume of data that may not explicitly mention your brand. Worse yet, by nature social monitoring is reactive, meaning you’re potentially allowing other people to control the narrative about your brand.

What is social listening?

Social listening, on the other hand, is collecting data from social mentions and broader customer conversations, and pulling insights from them so you can make better decisions for your customers. On a broader scale, social listening takes a macro look at how customers discuss your brand, your competitors, and even your brand category on social media. It gathers that data from social monitoring and customer interactions, and pools it to build a more comprehensive view of what customers are saying and how your brand can help.

With social listening, you can start using customer data and sentiment analysis to improve your products and services, or capitalize on market segments where your competitors may be underperforming. At the most sophisticated levels, you can harness actionable insights about your brand’s category altogether, alerting your teams to broader trends that may impact your business before they hit.

What is omni-channel listening?

Broader yet is omni-channel listening, which covers a much wider net of digital channels than traditional social media sites. For example, what about topics that hit the front page of community forums like Reddit, or reviews sites like Yelp or Tripadvisor? How about the 5 million blogs that were published today? Or chat apps like WhatsApp? Broadening your listening capabilities to the largest set of publicly available data is the key to fueling your AI engine and understanding conversations and trends that you would never get from narrower tactics.

But omni-channel listening isn’t just about collecting as much data as you can. It’s about getting the true voice of the consumer and drawing meaningful insights from that data that can drive business growth. For example, identifying which brick and mortar stores get higher star ratings on review sites and using that feedback to improve your business strategy across all of your locations, or even converting those best practices to tactics you can use on your digital channels.

How do I interpret all of this listening data?

It’s important to remember that these are separate strategies. Social monitoring is a necessary but narrow tactic, and doesn’t give you anywhere near the depth and breadth of insights that you’ll get with social listening and omni-channel listening.

And, while collecting the broadest set of actionable data is critical, it causes its own challenge: how do you interpret it all? With the right platform and the right approach, your brand can fine-tune these strategies into a highly-sophisticated insights machine.

We’ll cover that in our next blog, which will focus on why AI is a “must have” to turn data into actionable insights. But, if you want to dive in right away and get a more in depth look at how to use social listening and AI to improve the customer experience, check out our new eBook.

Download the 3 Steps to Transform Your Customer Experience with AI-Driven Insights eBook now.

Learn more about Sprinklr Modern Research.

Rob Vanderzyppe is a Product Marketing Manager at Sprinklr and is based in Denver, CO. He primarily focuses on our Modern Research product and innovating the latest and greatest social listening strategies. Away from the office he enjoys traveling and golf.

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