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The Difference Between Social Listening vs Social Monitoring

Dec. 05, 2023 | Jailyn Glass

Web Designer working on team project

We hear social listening and social monitoring used interchangeably often within the digital marketing community. But did you know that there is actually a difference between social listening vs social monitoring?

If you didn’t know, you’re not alone! Let’s break it down and define what both are; not to just help you remember how they’re different, but how you may implement social listening and social monitoring in your digital marketing strategy.

What is Social Monitoring?

Sprout Social has defined social media monitoring as “Caring for your customers by monitoring social media for messages directly related to your brand and responding to those messages appropriately.”

This means that as a brand, you are passively collecting information about your audience. This ranges from reviewing notifications and responding to customer inquiries, complaints, or comments. This also extends to taking your queries outside of your brand and gaining contextual insights about your customers, how others engage with competitors, and tracking related keywords to your services. We consider this to be a very-brand centric approach.

The main takeaway is that this strategy is passive. You are not acting upon the insight you gain from this monitoring. That’s not to say you are ignoring complaints or disregarding engagement rates. Instead, you are gaining insight into your customers and their sentiments towards your brands as well as industry trends and moods. Social monitoring allows you to stay up-to-date and engaged with your audience.  

Why is it Important? 

Social monitoring is probably one of the most impactful strategies that you take part in. You are directly nurturing by staying relevant and engaged with your audience. You are also aware of the changing moods and climates that a crisis may arise from. By keeping aware of your industry moods and the competition, you can address issues or praise alike and even divert your own brand from falling into a virality for the wrong reason. 

What is Social Listening?

Whereas social monitoring is a passive approach, social listening is quite the opposite. As defined by Sprout Social, social listening is “understanding your audience and improving campaign strategy by accessing the full spectrum of conversation around your industry, brand, and any topics relevant to your brand.”

Social listening involves the same intel-gathering that is involved with social monitoring. However, you take it a step further. You dissect and strategize with the information you have gained. Then, you implement that to a broader context rather than being brand-centric. 

Examples of actions that you make during this approach include taking the opportunity to create content in response to trends you see emerging within your industry, offering solutions to repeated complaints, and evaluating and retargeting your tone. You may even join new platforms your audience is on and wants you on!

Why is it Important? 

By expanding upon the findings you have gathered through social monitoring to include looking at competitors and your industry as a whole, you can propel your business forward as you have a deeper understanding of not just what your audience wants, but also their needs and expectations. You may not be able to read their minds, but with helpful insight into their interactions as well as within the happenings of the industry, you can better forecast your business in the future. 


So What Really is Social Listening vs Social Monitoring?

In layman’s terms, social monitoring is a passive approach vs social listening, which is an active approach. Social monitoring is very brand-centric and focused on short-term operation. Social listening allows you to think and learn outside the confines of your audience. Because of this, you can capitalize upon a new audience or stay ahead of the curve with industry changes.[/callout]

How Our Agency Can Help

PA offers many digital marketing services, beginning with a comprehensive brand audit that complies with the findings of both social listening and social monitoring. We are well-versed in building strategies around our findings and offering solutions to help your business grow. PA can help you establish a healthy digital foundation for your business! With options for us to be your content marketing partner, or to simply help you create a marketing plan from our findings, we’re here to improve your digital marketing.

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