social media how toDo you monitor what people are saying about you online?

Are you using this information to enhance your business?

The insights you gather about your customers, prospects, products and competitors with social listening can be valuable.

In this article you’ll discover eight ways to use social listening for your business.

Why Social Listening?

Social listening (or media monitoring, as some people like to call it) is about searching the web and the social space to see what’s being said about your company, your competitors and other topics of interest.

8 ways to use social listening

Discover 8 ways to use social listening for your business.

Listen to this article:

With a little time and creativity, you can go beyond just monitoring your brand and use social listening to enhance content marketing, business development, product management, human resources and customer support.

Here are eight ways social listening can benefit your business.

#1: Generate Leads by Solving Problems

One way to find new business opportunities is to monitor keywords that relate to people’s problems and needs or their frustrations with a competitor’s product.

Monitor terms like “[competitor’s brand name] can’t” or “[competitor’s brand name] won’t” to identify pain points.

Once you identify these potential customers, reach out to them. Ask them what their expectations are for the product and where it’s falling short. Then explain your product’s benefits and added value, and make yourself available for questions. You may also want to provide a demo of your product.

#2: Attract New Customers

To generate new leads for your business, brainstorm for keywords that people might use when researching a product and track these terms across forums and social groups.

Join the conversations and find out more about any potential customers’ needs and expectations. Be genuine in your interactions.

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Join in conversations that lead to conversions. Image: Shutterstock.

Later, check your database to see if anyone from the forum signed up to try your product. Send those new customers an email offering to personally help them get started.

#3: Identify Influencers and Advocates

After a big product launch or update, track the link to or the title of your press release to see who’s sharing it. This information helps you identify influencers in your industry. Reach out to them to start building relationships.

You’ll also want to identify your biggest brand advocates. Find and reward them with giveaways or special offers. Continue to keep them engaged as your brand grows, because satisfied customers are one of your greatest marketing resources.

#4: Discover Where Your Community Hangs Out

Social listening enables you to find out where your potential and current community members carry on important conversations—Twitter, Facebook, Quora, comments on blogs or somewhere else. Track these conversations, and when the time is right, join in.

social icons shutterstock 143105143

Knowing which platform to focus on also helps you improve your social media marketing. Image: Shutterstock.

#5: Improve Customer Care

With social listening, you can instantly identify both positive and negative feedback.

Monitor your brand name with and without the @ symbol (many people forget to add the @ symbol when communicating on Twitter).

Also, track common auto-correct misspellings for your brand name and monitor your website mentions (for example, and

This gives you the opportunity to show your appreciation for positive comments or to find and respond to disappointed customers, turning potentially negative experiences into positive ones. If people take the time to write about issues with your product, they’re open to your help.

#6: Get Feedback on Products

Social listening also helps you identify potential issues early in a product’s life cycle.

product feature tweet

Use mentions like this one to address issues with your product.

Track your brand name’s mentions and if someone posts a bug about your product, assign the issue to your development team so it can be fixed as quickly as possible.

Then, respond directly to your customer to nurture transparency. If feasible, use your personal email account rather than your company account to show the human side of your business.

#7: Find Top Talent

Your human resources department can benefit from social listening, too. Hiring top talent is frequently a challenge, but tracking conversations in forums, in social groups or on blogs can help you identify key candidates with remarkable skill sets.

#8: Drive Innovation

Asking your customers what they want, as tempting as that might be, can result in skewed answers, misinformation, and potentially, failed products.

Henry Ford famously said, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” It’s often easier for people to comment on something that is in front of them than to imagine something that doesn’t exist.

innovation tweet

Find out what new features your customers are asking for.

With social listening, you don’t have to ask people what they want; just listen in on their conversations and use these insights to figure out what they need.

Tools to Monitor Your Brand Reputation

Google Alerts is a powerful tool for tracking your brand’s mentions, trends and other interesting topics across the internet. To create an email alert, type in your company’s name or the keyword you want to monitor. You can even use advanced operators in the search box for better results, just like you would in Google Search.

Quora is another free resource to track what people are saying about your product or other relevant topics. However, you can only monitor those mentions within the site itself. Search for specific questions or topics related to your target market’s needs and follow those relevant to your business. You’ll receive updates in your Quora feeds and notifications by email.

quora results

Mentions from Quora.

Twitter Advanced Search is often overlooked, but it’s a valuable tool for refining Twitter search queries and zeroing in on the people talking about your brand or competing brands. You can use operators—and exclusion operators—to filter your results. There are also options for targeting a specific group of people or a geographic location.

Social Mention works in a similar way to Twitter’s Advanced Search, except you get the results from all over the social media space, in addition to Twitter. To get started, enter the keywords or topic you want to search and select the type of results from the drop-down menu. Use the advanced settings for more filtering options like geo-location and language. On the results page, your influence score is divided into four categories: strength, sentiment, passion and reach. You can also see your top keywords and brand advocates.

Tools to Create a Keyword List

Rather than just compiling a list of keywords by trial and error, use tools like these to make the process quicker and easier.

Keyword Tool gives you keyword ideas based on what people type into the Google search box. For example, want to track conversations about “social monitoring,” you may see suggestions like “social monitoring software” or “social monitoring service.”

keyword tool results

Use free tools to research keyword ideas.

Google Trends analyzes search queries, looks at the number of searches for keywords and shows how trends evolve so you can find out how people search for your brand or competing brands. You can compare trends by adding a second search term, plus it suggests a list of related search topics you might add to your keyword list.

Get More Out of Social Listening

Social listening goes well beyond just monitoring your brand’s reputation. You can use social listening insights to improve many aspects of your business, including business and product development, human resources and customer care.

Now you need to find out how to make social listening work for your business. If you’re interested in how to build a social listening dashboard, be sure to check out this article.

What do you think? How are you using social listening to improve your business? Please share your thoughts and tips in the comments below!

Lead to customer photo and Website and internet icons photo from Shutterstock.
8 ways to use social listening for your business

Tips for using social listening to track mentions for your business.

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  • Great article Zoe. Couldn’t agree more with #1 and #2. We did this extensively at our startup the past few months and that’s led to very actionable leads. Even better, these leads were already very far along in their purchase cycle that we didn’t have to do much customer development to get them to convert.

    One word of caution is to not be too pushy or intrusive when jumping into someone else’s social conversation. As with most interactions, coming off too aggressively can be a turn off and deterrent to making the connection.

  • Hi, David. That’s right! You need to know when and how to jump into someone else’s social conversations to avoid being pushy.
    The best method is to make sure you have something valuable to say. You don’t necessarily have to engage in each and every conversation on every platform or website. It’s more productive and beneficial (for everybody) if you participate only when you can offer real help.

  • Hi Manoj. Thank you for the comment! Indeed, being ahead of the pack and in sync with your clients needs is crucial to your online success. Of course, this is only one of the many marketing strategies that, used together, will take your business to the next level.

  • ery useful article, Zoe! Social listening is, indeed, very important as it can provide loads of information that would otherwise be very hard to obtain. Unfortunately, the challenge that company employees face is lack of time and many times they drop social media monitoring in order to make time for other things. Managers should really stress the importance of social listening and make it a priority. I’m hoping that those who are not yet convinced will stumble upon your article 🙂

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  • Social listening doesn’t actually have to be a time consuming thing. There are several tools out there ( ours included ) that will essentially let you specify what you want to monitor and then just visualize it up on a big screen in your office. Sort of like a stock ticker for the social activity you’re interested in. In fact, a couple of the digital agencies we’re working with are using it exactly for this purpose.

  • Thank you Michael! Indeed, there are many managers that overlook social listening when building their brand. Most of them, don’t really know the real benefits of this strategy. They might say it’s because of the lack of time. But these days there are so many tools that do almost all the work for us, we just have to know how to interpret the results. I do hope that people will start seeing the benefits of social listening and do something about it.

  • The takeaways i like the most in this post is this…

    “With social listening, you don’t have to ask people what they want; just listen in on their conversations and use these insights to figure out what they need.”

    This is spot on and we can use this in our social listening activity to leverage our business’ brand, reputation, conversion and sales. The number eight “Drive Innovation” is the smartest tip for me.

    I also agree that it’s often easier for people to comment on something that is in front of them than to imagine something that doesn’t exist.

  • Thank you, Metz! Glad you enjoyed the post! I remember something Steve Jobs said: “People don’t know what they want until you show it to them”. It’s better to listen and find out what people really want than actually ask them and end up with misleading information.

  • “#8: Drive Innovation

    Asking your customers what they want, as tempting as that might be, can result in skewed answers, misinformation, and potentially, failed products.

    Henry Ford famously said, “If I’d asked my customers what they wanted, they’d have said a faster horse.” It’s often easier for people to comment on something that is in front of them than to imagine something that doesn’t exist.”

    Thank You Zoe.

    This one is so effective, it amazes me how it’s under utilized. By listening to what they complain about, you can now create a possible solution.

  • Very nice article Zoe.

    I really like the monitor terms idea, never thought about that. Makes SO much sense. Could be a great way to scoop up new customers.

    And some great tips about improving customer care, with again monitoring

    Social mention is cool.. “Searching across the universe…” lol

    Like Fords quote as well. Very true.

    I use to get Google alerts for at least some parts of my biz, but have not gotten them for along time. Wondering if I turned them off or something. Odd now that I think about it.

    Also, thanks for the resources you listed, some awesome tools.

  • Hi, Ron! Glad I could help with the listed resources.

    Regarding the Google Alerts, the folks at Google added several improvements lately. For example, you can choose when to receive the alerts (if you want to receive them at a certain time of day) or you can choose to receive them only once a day or once a week. Maybe you just need to play with these settings a bit.

    One other thing you can do is to find new keywords: get suggestions with the Keyword Tool for example and add new alerts based on them.

  • Gloria

    Great article and very nice tips!
    Social listening and Internet monitoring become a standard nowadays. It’s it important to tell how powerful and useful it is.
    We have tools, like Brand24 which I love and recommend, which is a great help with social listening.
    It gives instant access to every public mention, allows to join and engage conversations, manage online presence, find new audience and get leads, check who is natural ambassador of our brand, monitor competitors and news from industry etc. It also gives some interesting analyzes of reach, sentiment and influence. So many features in one, time-saving and easy to use tool.
    It’s a must-have for every kind and size of company.