What is Social Listening: Importance, Benefits and Strategies

Learn how brands can harness the power of social listening for growth and success.

Aishwarya Suresh
July 31, 2023
9 min read

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Listening doesn’t just mean mindlessly hearing a person talk. It actually means paying attention to each and every word they’re saying. Similarly, when it comes to social media, social listening is all about tuning in to the digital chatter, deriving insights from it and developing impactful strategies. 

According to recent studies, most consumers expect brands to respond to their social media posts within 24 hours. That's why you got to keep up with the latest trends and know what your audience expects from your brand.  

In this guide, we’ll delve into social listening, explore its benefits and check out some practical strategies to take your brand to the next level. 

What is social listening?  

Social listening is the process of analyzing online conversations, mentions and discussions to gain valuable insights into your brand, industry, competitors or specific topics. It goes beyond simply tracking mentions of your brand — it involves understanding the context, sentiment and patterns that emerge from these conversations.  

It's a crucial part of market research that helps you understand the pulse of your audience in real time, enabling you to make informed decisions. When you implement AI-powered social media listening into your social media strategy, you become a master at understanding why, where and how these conversations are happening. You get to know exactly what your customers think and desire – even if they don't directly mention your brand. With this knowledge, you can manage customer complaints, enhance your social media presence and monitor your competitors’ strategies. 


How does social listening work? 

A social listening tool collects online data about your brand and your competitors across social media platforms, forums, blogs and other digital channels. It searches for keywords or phrases to find the most relevant information – using AI and algorithms.  

Then, it analyzes mentions to understand customer sentiment, categorizing them as positive, negative or neutral based on their tone and context. Specific topics or themes (like price, product availability or packaging) can also be categorized from what your customers are talking about, while mentioning your brand or product online. 

With this valuable information, you can monitor and analyze what consumers say about your brand and competitors, helping you optimize your social media marketing campaign, create responses that benefit users and boost sales. 

Social listening vs. social monitoring 

Have you ever wondered how social monitoring and listening differ? Well, you’re not alone! While both strategies play important roles in social media management, social monitoring deals with real-time customer interactions and feedback whereas social listening is more about understanding consumer sentiment toward your brand and products. 

Here are the basic differences: 


Social Monitoring 

Social Listening 


Keeping an eye on your brand's mentions, comments and messages across different platforms. It's about making sure you address customer concerns as soon as possible. 

Not just tracking mentions but also paying attention to people's discussions about your brand or industry to gauge their thoughts and feelings, even when they don't explicitly mention your brand. 


If someone talks about your brand on X, formerly Twitter or leaves a comment on your Facebook post, social monitoring helps you identify those interactions. 

It's about being alert and responsive to what's happening in real time, so you can engage with your audience effectively. 

When you analyze customer reviews, online discussions and posts to get valuable insights on your brand and/or offerings. 

It helps you connect the dots between different conversations and make well-informed decisions for your brand's growth and improvement. 


It’s mainly used to gather data – to look back on past events using metrics like brand and competitor mentions, relevant hashtags and industry trends. 

It can be used for tasks such as reporting on social media activity, tracking social media marketing campaigns, and keeping tabs on customer service issues.  

It involves looking beyond the numbers to discover the “why” behind the data – also known as social media sentiment. This sentiment analysis can help you learn how people feel about your brand and your competitors.  

Better understanding of customer needs and preferences to inform brand strategy – empowering data-driven decision-making. 

Learn More: What’s the difference between social monitoring and social listening? 

Why social listening matters to businesses? 

By now you know, social listening offers valuable insights into what people are actively discussing about your brand, including their expectations from you.  

Here’s how it benefits your brand: 

  • Strengthens customer relationships: By actively listening to your customers' conversations, you can gain valuable insights into their likes and dislikes. This understanding allows you to tailor your brand's offerings and improve customer satisfaction, leading to a stronger and more meaningful relationship with your audience. 

  • Facilitates data-driven business decisions: With valuable data on customer preferences, market trends and competitor insights, you can make data-driven decisions that align with your business objectives – effectively guiding your marketing and product strategies. 

  • Gives you a competitive edge: Understanding what your customers are saying about your brand and competitors enables you to identify opportunities and potential areas for improvement. This knowledge gives your brand a competitive edge, allowing you to respond proactively to market changes and customer needs. 

  • Ups your influencer marketing game: You can identify key influencers in your industry and by collaborating with the relevant ones, you can expand your brand's reach and credibility, reaching a wider audience and driving higher engagement. 

  • Protects your brand: Monitoring real-time conversations allows you to detect potential crises early. By staying aware of online sentiment surrounding your brand, you can effectively address negative feedback or misinformation, safeguarding your brand's reputation. 

Check Out: How to protect your brand reputation in the social media minefield? 

5 social listening strategies to incorporate into your business 

With billions of active social media users worldwide, a well-crafted social listening strategy is essential for any business. Social listening not only helps you understand your audience but also unveils potential customers and competitor insights. To maximize its impact, turn these insights into actionable strategies for growth.  

Here are the top five social listening strategies to leverage the power of social media and drive your business forward. 

Research and develop  

Coming up with new ideas can make your brand better. You can find these ideas by looking at reports from social media to see what people are talking about. For example, you might discover opportunities to create new products, plan exciting events, or change how your brand is seen based on what customers say about you and your competitors. 

To get started, pay attention to broader industry terms. For instance, if you work in marketing for an analytics company, keep an eye on topics like "metrics" and "social data." As you listen, you might hear someone expressing a need or wish. If you have a solution, reach out to them and offer your help. But if you don't, consider how you can take steps to meet that need and improve your brand. 

Customer persona development  

Analyze the profiles of users posting with your tracked keywords to build detailed buyer personas. Understanding your target audience's demographics, interests and pain points can help tailor your messaging and campaigns to resonate with specific customer segments, ultimately increasing engagement and conversions. 

Monitor competitor content and performance  

Keep a close watch on your competitors' social media content to gain valuable insights into their strategies and engagement with their audience. See what's working for them, as your audiences are similar. Use a reliable tool to track their posts, likes, comments and shares. 

Use these insights wisely! Create your own posts, studies and infographics based on what's working for them. Also, pay attention to any negative feedback or dissatisfaction users express in response to your competitors' content. This presents an opportunity for you to step in, offer solutions and showcase your brand's unique value proposition, potentially winning over dissatisfied customers and expanding your customer base.

Sprinklr's competitive benchmarking dashboard showing competitors' top content and activity.

Real-time issue resolution  

Monitor social media for any complaints, negative feedback or customer inquiries related to your brand. Respond swiftly and empathetically to address their concerns.  

For instance, let's say you run a travel agency, and someone posts on social media about a frustrating experience they had while booking a trip through your website. 

In such cases, take quick action: 

  • If the issue can be replicated – work diligently to resolve it and promptly reach out to the customer with a sincere apology and a solution. 

  • If you can't reproduce the problem, don't ignore it. Be empathetic and ask the customer for more details to understand their experience better. 

Why is this essential? Customers expect businesses to be responsive and attentive in today's digital age. Delayed or indifferent responses can negatively impact your customer satisfaction and brand reputation.

Sprinklr Intuition feature  analyzes cases with suggestions and predictions.

Learn More: Omnichannel Customer Service 

Explore new audience spaces  

Social listening helps you explore various online spaces beyond the usual social platforms. With this strategy, you can explore diverse online places like forums, communities and social sites where your potential customers hang out. You'll be amazed to see how much they chat about trends, your competitors and even your own business. 

Imagine this – you're running a gaming brand and focusing only on Facebook and X, formerly X, formerly Twitter. But guess what? Your target audience could also be super active on gaming forums and Reddit!  

By keeping an eye on these unique audience spaces, you can gain deeper insights into their interests, preferences and pain points, helping you tailor your social media content and engagement strategies accordingly.  

4 Social listening tips and tricks 

Knowing what to listen for, where and how to listen, as well as learning from your competitors, is how you create the best social listening strategies. 

Here are few tips and tricks: 

Tip 1: Know what words and topics to listen to  

Select the most relevant keywords. Social media listening tools help you know what words people use when mentioning your brand and industry. Some of the most important keywords and topics to track include:

  • Your brand’s name, social media handles and slogan 

  • The names of your products  

  • Words related to your competitors such as brand or product names, handles and slogans 

  • Popular words related to the industry 

  • Hashtags including your brand’s hashtags, those of competitors and hashtags related to the industry 

  • Names of major leaders in your company such as CEO, COO or CFO  

All of the above should also be monitored for standard abbreviations and misspellings.

Sprinklr's listening dashboard widget showcasing popular hashtags with underlying sentiments.


Tip 2: Know where to listen  

Conversations about your brand or the industry will vary depending on the channel. For example, what people say about your brand on Instagram will likely be different from what they say on LinkedIn. You may also notice people mentioning you on Instagram but rarely on Facebook. 

Knowing where people are talking about you and your competitors and how these conversations differ across networks shows you where your marketing strategies will be the most relevant.

Sprinklr's Marketing benchmarking dashboard displays engagement from various social channels.

Tip 3: Avoid broad searches  

Once you’ve determined what terms to track and where to find them, advanced search methods can be used to narrow your results. The narrower you make your search, the more likely you are to find your ideal target audience.  

For example, you might want to narrow your social listening by location. If you own a small business in the U.S., there’s no point in listening to conversations happening in France.

Sprinklr's Audience Insights Dashboard based on audience demographics from Twitter.

Tip 4: Learn from your competitors  

Listening to your competitors and what’s being said about them online can inspire new strategies. Social listening can show you what they’re doing right and why their customers continue to purchase from them. More importantly, you can understand what they’re doing wrong, especially when they receive criticism. This allows you to adjust strategies to make up for their shortcomings. 

How to select the right social listening tool 

When you're looking for the right social listening tool, start by figuring out your business goals and the specific features your team is looking for. Consider who will use the tool and the type of data you want to gather from different channels. Understanding these aspects will guide you in finding the perfect fit for your social media listening needs! 

Common features can include:  

  • Alerts and notifications 

  • Predictive analytics 

  • Competitive benchmarking 

  • Intelligence dashboards  

  • Anomaly and trend detection  

  • App and CRM integration 

Ensure that your tool aligns with your social listening strategies and KPIs to understand what customers are saying about your brand — and how you can leverage those insights to deliver a better customer experience. 

Turn data into action with AI-powered social listening from Sprinklr 

Unlocking insights from massive amounts of data scattered across digital and social channels is next to impossible — without the help of advanced AI.  

With Sprinklr’s AI-powered social listening tool, you can capture valuable customer feedback on products and services, gain a competitive advantage over competitors’ products and strategies, discover influencers and identify key market trends you can capitalize on.  

With Sprinklr’s social listening tools, you can listen proactively across 30+ modern channels, including social media, messaging, chat, review sites, etc. 

These tools enable you to:  

  • Identify and contextualize relevant conversations that directly or indirectly mention your brand or product, providing you with new opportunities to connect with your customers and prospects and drive brand loyalty

    Sprinklr's Brand Monitoring dashboard displays trend of mentions over a 30-day time period.

  • Intelligently filter out non-engageable messages and focus on the messages that matter most, helping you connect with your customers at the right time on the channel they choose 

  • Detect brand risks and crises in real time, and notify the relevant team via email and mobile, resulting in quicker responses

    Sprinklr's Smart Alerts Dashboard displays alerts generated based on a detected anomaly.

Final thoughts 

So, now you know how social media can give you valuable insights into the ever-changing trends of your customers. If you don't pay attention and adapt, your brand might lose its shine compared to others on top of their game.

Today's customers crave an interactive, up-to-date brand that offers them genuinely valuable and engaging experiences. So, why not tap into the power of social media listening to connect with your audience, stay agile and thrive in this dynamic digital world? 


Frequently Asked Questions

The frequency of social listening depends on your business's size, industry and social media activity. In general, it's recommended to conduct regular listening sessions, especially during marketing campaigns, product launches and critical events.

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