The difference between social monitoring and social listening isn’t just semantic. Despite the fact that the two terms are often used interchangeably, they represent two entirely different strategies.
Social monitoring is identifying and responding to individual brand mentions on social media. Social listening, on the other hand, is collecting data from those social mentions and broader customer conversations, and pulling insights from them so you can make better decisions for your customers.
The first step to executing these strategies properly is understanding what makes each one unique. That’s why we’re breaking down the differences between social monitoring and social listening.
Micro vs. Macro
Social monitoring addresses customers on a micro scale. This is when care representatives or social media managers respond to incoming queries, issues, and comments. 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.
On a broader scale, social listening takes a macro look at how customers discuss your brand 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.
There are many metaphors you can use to make this distinction clearer. Social monitoring is the trees; social listening is the forest. Social monitoring is the pixels; social listening is the picture. Social monitoring is the bandaid; social listening helps you find the cure.
No matter what terms you might use, it’s important to remember that these are separate strategies, and that you need them both to provide superior customer care.
Reactive vs. Proactive
Social monitoring is reactive. The customer makes the first move and reaches out to the brand on social media. In reaction, the care representative swoops in to solve an issue or answer a question. It’s a crucial social strategy to have. But those customer interactions shouldn’t stop there.
That’s where social listening, which is proactive, comes in. Social listening allows brands to take those short-term interactions and build them to glean insights for a long-term strategy. This unified, birds-eye view can also help you better understand why those social mentions came to your care representative in the first place. And you can start to find opportunities to make changes that proactively prevent similar issues in the future.
Through social listening, you can also unearth trends among your industry, competitors, and consumer experiences. You can then make necessary changes to stay ahead of the curve and keep customers happy.
Take Xbox, for example. The @XboxSupport Twitter account responds to individual queries, like this one:
That’s social monitoring. But if Xbox pulls back the scope and sees that many other customers have similar questions, they can suggest product or marketing changes within the company to improve the customer experience going forward. That’s accomplished through social listening.
Manual vs. Automated
At its most basic level, social monitoring can be done manually. That is, you can use Twitter or Tweetdeck notifications to easily monitor your mentions. But other than that, you can pretty much keep track of every incoming query.
Social listening, by contrast, requires more automation and robust technology to collect and measure data. In fact, Forrester found that 52% of social listening tool users considered measurement their top challenge. The right technology will allow you to automatically track keywords, trends, and brand mentions (with or without your handle). It can then aggregate and present that data in a way that is easy to understand and draw insights from. From there, you’ll be able to find patterns, uncover trends, and understand your audience without missing a beat.
Monitoring vs. Listening
People are talking about your brand on social media – whether you’re aware of it or not. That means they’re providing you with valuable data about what they need and want from your brand. You just have to be there to collect it and respond.
There are two main ways to do this: social monitoring and social listening. Both are crucial, but they have their differences. That’s why it’s important to understand what monitoring and listening can do for your brand – individually and together. Only then can you execute them properly and use them to better engage your consumers.
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