Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring: What’s the Difference? [+ Examples]

Social Listening vs Social Monitoring: What’s the Difference? [+ Examples]

Every marketer faces a big social media analysis dilemma: Social listening vs social monitoring. Perhaps you’re already wondering:

Every marketer faces a big social media analysis dilemma: Social listening vs social monitoring.

Perhaps you’re already wondering: Which one is best to follow first? Can these two practices be performed simultaneously?

However, most of you who ended up reading this have another question in mind: What’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

In this article, we’re going to fully cover both procedures: Definitions, differences, and examples.

Stick around if you want to know which one fits your business right now. Plus, we’re talking about why, when, and how to pursue both.

So let’s start!

What Are Social Listening and Social Monitoring?

To see how is social listening different from social monitoring, let’s start with the more rounded option of the two.

Social Media Listening Definition

Social media listening involves multiple practices, including social monitoring as well. So what is social listening?

In general, social listening is a complex web and media conversation analysis process. More specifically, it’s about identifying and evaluating what people say about brands, products, industry-related topics, or other people.

Actually, social listening goes beyond what people type –and focuses on uncovering what they think. Social media listening tools pinpoint these online discussions to help businesses avoid risky situations and make smart decisions.

Additionally, exploring social trends and collecting consumer insights helps companies upgrade their customer experience, content strategy, and future campaigns.

Social Media Listening includes:

  • Monitoring any type of social media activity and extracting valuable data about industry-related topics and accounts
  • Investigating the overall feeling toward a brand, company, product, individual person, or industry –maybe you’ve heard of social sentiment analysis
  • Understanding the context of online discussions and focusing on consumer behaviors
  • Measuring a social media account’s estimated reach, engagement, and share of voice
  • Benchmarking against competitors and looking for things that need to be improved

In short, social listening is the complete and well-rounded marketing package choice in the “social listening vs social monitoring” conflict.

Social Media Monitoring Definition

In contrast to social listening’s more spherical effect, social monitoring is a much easier concept to understand. It’s actually a part of the wider category of media monitoring.

Without a doubt, social media platforms feature the biggest net of connections, organic audience, and possible customer leads. Hence, that makes them the first marketing pool that brands dive into. Social media offer a space for people to message businesses, rate stores, tag brands, and talk about their customer experience.

Basically, social media monitoring is the process of tracking, identifying, and responding to these social mentions, ratings, and messages. Social media monitoring tools offer real-time alerts to get clients notified about negative comments, positive feedback, or customer questions.

Moreover, social media managers conduct campaign monitoring to get quick updates about the progress of their social media campaigns.

Social Media Monitoring includes:

  • Scanning the web and multiple social media platforms for brand monitoring, mentions, product names, and common misspellings
  • Tracking industry-related keywords, hashtags, social media users, and online conversations
  • Looking at mentions of your competitors and comparing your own share of voice
  • Identifying people that are searching for products you can provide in your area
  • Creating alerts to be notified about new messages, comments, and mentions
  • Measuring the effectiveness of online brand awareness campaigns

What’s the Difference between Social Media Listening and Social Media Monitoring?

Social Listening vs. Social Monitoring - comparison table

Without a doubt, even after reading about these definitions, many junior social media managers ask themselves: What’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Here are the 4 most prevalent areas where these two tend to differ.

Solution: Long-term Vs. Short-term

Social listening vs social monitoring: Which process aims to create a longer-lasting effect?

All things considered, social media monitoring is a short-term solution that ends when you’re responding to what your audience says. Obviously, you don’t have to react to your mentions necessarily. The point is that the process is finished successfully when you’re notified about your mentions – for example, a customer complaint.

Conversely, social media listening is a long-term solution that isn’t completed when you track all the social media posts that talk about you. Instead, brands are provided with useful insights, personalized advice, and customer experience tips that aim to result in everlasting improvement. For instance, a business is dealing with an issue that’s been successfully handled before. Surprisingly, social listening tools can offer them tips on how to deal with the issue in the best way possible.

Purpose: What Vs. Why

So this one is easy. On one hand, social media monitoring represents the constant search of what:

  • Social media users say about your brand
  • Audiences want from you
  • People really care about in general
  • Customers love or hate your products, etc.

It’s a process that focuses mostly on the actions concerning your company’s brand name, industry, and competitors.

On the other hand, social media listening takes care of answering why:

  • Social media users made these comments about your brand
  • Audiences want what they want from you
  • People care more about a specific industry
  • Customers love or hate these things about your products

After all, social listening is all about turning data into insights. Hence, it makes sense why it’s able to look deeper than social monitoring and answer those questions for you.

However, we have to pinpoint that curating a strong and resilient social media strategy probably needs both at some point.

But we’ll get to that later.

Scale: Micro Vs. Macro

It sounds easy, but what’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring when it comes to scaling?

To begin with, social monitoring is conducted on a micro level, while social listening takes place on a macro scale.

To explain, social media monitoring requires a one-on-one level of contact. People comment on your posts, tag your accounts, leave a personal review, or message your page. Then, it’s your chance to politely reply to their comments, reviews, mentions, and messages.

It doesn’t matter if the message is all praise or complaints. As long as you respond to your audiences every time it’s needed, your customer service rates go instantly skyrocket.

Then, there’s social media listening. In this macro-scale case, the automated tools don’t spend too much time on individual messages and mentions. Instead, they tend to focus on searching for a pattern of negative issues, positive comments, or effective practices.

By doing that, social media listening tools come up with answers to important questions, such as:

  • Why isn’t this method working for me?
  • Is there one thing that most people think our brand does best?
  • How to improve our products/services?

Reactive Vs. Proactive

This one is really important when it comes to strategizing and picking the right tools for the job.

Obviously, you need to be both reactive and proactive when it comes to social media. However, there’s a chance you’d need to focus on one of them due to budget or time.

As you might have guessed, social media monitoring is reactive. For instance, you want to track a negative comment quickly, in order for you to have time to react efficiently. When it comes to social monitoring and media tracking, the goal is to create a fast and effective reaction.

In contrast to monitoring’s reactive nature, social media listening is proactive. In this case, it’s all about seeing behind the lines, uncovering important patterns, and preventing you making from a mistake. When you know why your audiences think like that and guess what’s next, you’re able to plan and protect yourself.

A Note on Tools: Manual Vs. Automated

It’s important to note that both processes are done better when conducted automatically. In short, you should probably contact an intelligence social media monitoring tool to do both jobs for you. For example, Mentionlytics’ AI-powered software can quickly track large volumes of data, alert clients, and offer insights through SIA. Our Social Intelligence Advisor feature listens to what customers say and gives personalized tips for social media strategy improvement.

However, if we had to spot minor differences, we’d talk about how social media monitoring can be conducted manually too. For instance, small businesses can manually perform Twitter research on their brand name and see what people say about them.

Example of Social Media Listening

Let’s say you own a local cosmetics brand and you want to measure the impact of your products and service.

Using an intelligent social media listening tool, like Mentionlytics, will help analyze social mentions of your brand on multiple channels. In fact, sometimes comparing your own performance on various social media platforms is vital. What’s the overall sentiment on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and TikTok?

An example of the social sentiment analysis by Mentionlytics

Of course, you can also perform sentiment analysis on mentions of your competitors to benchmark your online performance. Additionally, you could dig deeper into local online discussions about cosmetics to take your social media strategy to the next level.

Example of Social Media Monitoring

Using Ryan as a brand example, let’s see what social media monitoring is about. So, here the focus lies in tracking all of your brand mentions, reviews, social media messages, and tags.

Mentionlytics' Mention Tracker Feature

A social media monitoring tool, like Mentionlytics, could monitor these for you, through the mention tracker feature. Then, you’d receive real-time alerts –via e-mail or text– that would get you notified of negative comments, for example.

What’s the number of Twitter mentions compared to the total number of mentions? Does Ryanair gets mentioned more in tweets than Facebook statuses?

Listening or Monitoring? Where to Begin?

So, the question remains social listening vs social monitoring: which one to choose?

In all honesty, a thriving social media strategy could use both.

Monitoring is important for you to improve customer service, raise engagement, and prevent risky tweets from blowing up. However, it’s also important that you see the bigger picture. Social listening insights are what turn social media reports into effective plans.

In any case, we’d argue that social media monitoring is more suitable, to begin with. But sooner or later you’d have to perform social listening as well. That’s why intelligent tools, like Mentionlytics, are a great solution for businesses, as they offer the best of both worlds.

Now Over to You

So, this is everything you need to know about the social listening vs social monitoring conflict.

The truth is that everything –from podcast monitoring to Twitter social listening– sounds similar and the lines are blurry.

Hopefully, though, you’re now ready to answer when someone asks you: What’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Nevertheless, you can also contact intelligent tools, like Mentionlytics, to do both jobs for you.

Have more questions? Book a live demo with Mentionlytics and let our experts explain how our media monitoring and listening software can help you.

About Nicolas Braoulias

Passionate about social media and communication, Nicolas is a junior content writer at Mentionlytics. His interests include writing & editing, pop culture, and graphic design.