Doing business has changed significantly in the past decade alone. Both customers and company owners have evolved and adapted to new ways of shopping, buying, and communicating.

Nowadays, it’s hard to imagine a brand without an online presence. If you’re not on the world wide web, do you even exist? But even websites aren’t enough.

Businesses today must include social media in their brand strategy because that’s where most potential customers will look for them! What used to be billboards are now short stories, while sponsored ads and reels have replaced commercials on TV.

Social media is also where companies can collect feedback from their buyers, whether good or bad. Sometimes, though, people aren’t so explicit and straightforward. Social media managers can’t be passive users of various platforms and limit themselves to posting without hearing the recipients.

They must be active listeners who will go above and beyond to become true members of their brand’s community.

How should they do this? Discover the basic characteristics and differences between social listening vs social monitoring in this article and how to improve your presence in the online world.

What is Social Monitoring?

Remember when we mentioned good and bad feedback? People like to share the experience they’ve had with services and products.

However, they won’t always visit the company’s profile and leave a message. They’ll most likely publish their own posts where they comment on brands, their quality, their main features, etc.

These comments can be favorable or malicious. A social media manager must keep track of any mentions of the company and react to them accordingly.

So, we can say that social monitoring is tracking the brand’s name and the keywords relevant to it. This activity is reactive, responding to mentions that initially come from customers or people who’d like more information about the product or service.

This doesn’t make social monitoring any less important! In fact, it’s an essential activity, equivalent to having the shop’s doors unlocked during opening hours and answering the phone.

Positive feedback

Not only do businesses need to keep an eye on who’s talking about them, but they must also react swiftly. If the feedback is positive, the opportunity to share organic social proof can’t be missed!

A sincere compliment from a satisfied customer is hard to come by, as people like to complain more than they like to express satisfaction about a service or product.

So, companies should make the most of these events and keep sharing positive experiences. This way, people who are just discovering their brand can be sure it’s something others have already tried out and recommended.

Negative Comments

On the other side of the spectrum, we have negative experiences and feedback. Reacting to them is what you might call a “PR intervention.”

Comments that speak badly about products and services must be dealt with as soon as they’re spotted. Otherwise, they could escalate to a severe PR crisis with long-term financial consequences.

Information Seekers

There’s another category of messages coming from customers, and that’s asking for information. These messages must be answered as quickly as possible because you won’t get a second chance at good first impressions.

Whether someone is asking about prices, delivery status, return policies, or available colors, your team must be ready to answer right away and keep the customer on their buyer’s journey.

What is Social Listening?

If we look at a brand’s impact on the market as a pebble thrown in the water, the first concentric circle around it would be social monitoring. Now that we’ve made clear what that is, we can move on to the next circle around it, which is social listening.

Social listening is much broader and involves immersing yourself in the topics your audience is interested in. Not only do you have to keep up with your customers, but you should also track your competitors, their customers, and industry trends.

If you’ve done your due diligence and defined your buying persona, you’ll be able to find the places they like to visit online.

For example, if you’re selling pilates equipment, your average customer is most likely a young female who spends time on Instagram or TikTok.

What are her other interests? Does she work out at home? If so, does she follow video instructions, and whose? If there are organized online classes, you might want to infiltrate those groups and spark up conversations.

The point is to get the communication going and gradually build up a community of your own. You won’t know how to talk to your customers unless you’re interested in what they’re interested in.

Once you get the hang of it, it will be easier to understand their needs and address them properly. If you think of history in marketing, you’ll see that many brands failed to commercialize their products because they didn’t target their audience well.

Social listening vs Social monitoring

Finally, we can step back and put these two terms next to each other and define the differences between social listening vs. social monitoring.

Subject initiating the Conversation

This is the main and most significant contrasting feature. Social monitoring means staying alert and responding to questions, comments, and feedback that stem from the customers.

On the other side is social listening, where the brand tries to locate its potential buyers online, learn about their interests, and engage them through social media.

Reactive vs. Proactive

Another difference is the approach method toward the public. Social monitoring is reactive, while social listening is proactive. It’s important to note that they’re both necessary for brands.

You can’t focus on one activity and neglect the other entirely. Being proactive and engaging in conversations on topics relevant to the industry is great, but not if you ignore DMs regarding payments and shipping!

Looking back vs. Looking forward

Social monitoring focuses on past efforts, measuring campaigns, reach, impressions, and overall results of the already published posts.

Social listening, on the other hand, looks forward, focusing on what can be done in the future to create better results and widen the brand’s audience.

Micro vs. Macro

When we look at the scale of the addressed customers, we can conclude that social monitoring means dealing with the audience on a micro level, no matter how big or small the company is.

These are still only the people who reach out first for various reasons. Social listening means zooming out, taking a macro look, and reaching a wide range of people, sometimes hundreds of millions worldwide.

Should you hire a Dedicated Social Media Manager?

If you’re running a business and haven’t employed a social media manager yet, all we can do is ask: what are you waiting for? Don’t fool yourself and think this is not a full-time job!

Also, scrolling posts on your phone and creating posts are two entirely different activities. The former is passive and can be seen as a time-wasting distraction, while the latter is an active, creative process that requires focus, wit, and effort.

If you don’t believe us, try to create an engaging post on pneumatic drills within 20 minutes. You’ll find there’s a lot of work to do before even starting to write a sentence.

First, you must define your target audience. Then, you need to learn all about their preferences, their way of communicating, and the things they find important. Once you’ve figured out what will capture their attention and keep them from scrolling by, it’s time to create the visuals.

These include illustrations, photos, memes, short videos, or animations. Some are easy to create, and others require help from expert designers and video editors. Finally, when you start putting text, emojis, and visuals together, you also need to know where to post them, when, and how often!

This simple example shows how complex it is to complete only one post on social media today. Bear in mind that brands need to keep posting regularly to be visible on social media at all.

The amount of content produced daily is incredibly vast, so each brand must find its place under the Sun and fight to keep it. The sheer competition for a chance to be seen by your customers on a device they spend most of their day looking at should be enough reason to employ a person dedicated to this role.

The Benefits of Social Monitoring and Listening

To sum up, let’s take a look at the main benefits social listening vs. social monitoring brings to the table for generating quality leads through social media:

  • A better understanding of the buying persona
  • A more organic approach to customers
  • Wider audience reach
  • A bigger chance to acquire new customers
  • A more favorable public opinion of the brand
  • Shorter response time to a PR crisis
  • Comprehensive understanding of industry trends

These benefits are very general, but in the marketing world, they mean a lot. Keeping up with the competitors and the challenging customer demands is no easy task, so every bit of information helps.

Which One to opt For? 

Our advice is to stop wondering who wins in the social listening vs. social monitoring fight and start engaging in conversations with your customers.

Not only will you accomplish better results, but you’ll also find that people like to be approached organically and become part of communities rather than just watching companies advertise their products incessantly.

In the long run, connecting with your audience can only bring good things to your brand, so don’t waste time and begin developing your social media presence! Need any help with social media? Feel free to connect with our experts

Frequently Asked Questions

Social monitoring is like a small piece of the social puzzle. It looks closely at one thing, like a company or product. But social listening is bigger; it checks brand mentions and more, like whole categories or events happening in the world. So, while monitoring zooms in on specifics, listening takes a wider view, helping you understand the big picture of what's happening in the social media landscape, whether it's related to your business or not.

Social media monitoring is used to enhance and measure communication effectiveness. By closely tracking media attention, it enables you to gauge your reach to target customers and analyze their responses to your products or services. This valuable insight helps refine your communication strategy, ensuring it resonates effectively in the digital landscape.

Monitoring is akin to reacting promptly, whereas listening involves acting ahead of time. Reacting swiftly and personally to customer comments conveys your concern for them. In contrast, social listening is about being proactive by anticipating customer needs and trends before they even voice them.

Social listening is your radar for monitoring real-time sentiment in online discussions about your brand. It serves as an early warning system, swiftly notifying you of positive and negative shifts in public perception. This valuable tool helps you stay in tune with how people are talking about your brand, enabling you to respond effectively to changes in the online mood and maintain a positive image.