Social Listening

Discover how to find out what people are saying about your brand on social media.


Social Listening

Discover how to find out what people are saying about your brand on social media.

On average, people spend 3 hours per day on social networks, with 54% of social media users researching products and services on their preferred platform. So, what are people saying about your brand?

Social listening allows you to determine your brand’s position on social media, while providing valuable insight to help you enhance the perception of your brand.

Targeted social listening allows you to identify:

  • Conversations around your brand, products, or services across multiple platforms
  • Key topics that are relevant to your sector
  • Current events that may impact your brand

In this free guide, find out:

  • Why social listening is vital for your brand
  • How to plan your social listening strategy
  • How to analyse data gleaned from social listening
  • How to better align with your core audiences

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Social Listening

How to find out what people are saying about your brand on social media


    1. An introduction to Social Listening
    2. Social Listening: A How-to
    3. Social Listening Schedule
    4. Get the insight you need



An introduction to Social Listening

Why social listening is important

On average, people spend 3 hours per day on social networks and messaging, with 54% of social media users researching products and services on their preferred platform.

That means there’s a huge volume of conversation and content being created on social networks every day. The questions is – do you know how much of it relates to your brand?

This is where social listening becomes invaluable. While you might be aware of what people are saying in direct response to your social posts, or when they tag your organisation, you probably don’t know about all those times your name is mentioned, or one of your products is referenced?

Social listening lets you close that gap.

What is social listening?

Social listening is the practice of monitoring and analysing organic social media activity.

You can do general social listening across platforms, but when we are talking about social listening we are talking about a more targeted approach.

That means looking for conversations around your brand or products, around key topics that are relevant to your sector, or around current events that might impact on your brand.

Questions social listening can answer

Social listening can be tailored to meet your objectives, as many brands will have different needs when it comes to understanding what is happening on social media.

However, as a starting point, we’ve collated five questions below that we have seen answered through social listening. While these questions do not form an exhaustive list, they might inspire you to think about the things you could learn from organic social activity around your brand.

  • What do people think of our brand?
  • Do we need to make a statement about current events?
  • What does our social audience look like and what are their interests?
  • What are the key interests for our prospects and how can we better align with the people talking about those things?
  • Who are the key influencers we could reach out to?



Social Listening: A How-to

Levels of analysis

There are many different ways you can use social listening data (we’ll get into specifics around that later), but the first important point is to understand the levels of analysis you can make use of.

We see two key distinctions when it comes to social listening:

  • At scale – looking at numbers, statistics, or trends over time
  • Granular – looking at specific posts or accounts

These two types of data are, in some ways, split between quantitative and qualitative (although there is not a clean divide in this case). How, and when, you can use these types of data is determined by the kinds of questions you are trying to answer.

It’s the difference between:
What’s the sentiment around our brand? AND Can I see examples of negative posts about our brand?

Channels – what works and what doesn’t

As different social networks have evolved over time, the way they are managed and used has changed too. As a result, what’s possible to view and analyse can vary depending on which platform you are looking at.

For example, Twitter is very open and allows for almost all content to be viewable even if you don’t have an account. Facebook, on the other hand, gives users control over how much of their account and content is visible even within the network itself. Many users opt for a more locked down version, which makes much of the network invisible when trying to view as a third party.

Social Platforms ranked by social listening difficulty


A Note On Competitors…

One of the most powerful things about social listening is that it doesn’t require access to accounts. It’s not like an Analytics or PPC audit where you need to get into a secure platform to see the data.

Instead, you can analyse publicly available social data from the outside, which means any analysis you can do on your brand can also be done on your competitors.

Social Listening Approach

When planning your social listening strategy, here are some things you can investigate – which of these you use should be dependent on what you are trying to achieve.

Your Brand

  • Volume of mentions/conversation
  • Sentiment and passion
  • Audience trends, demographics, and interests
  • Key posts by reach or by impact

Your Sector

  • Competitor mention volume, sentiment, and passion
  • Influencers

Key Topics/Current Events

  • Mentions alongside your brand
  • Audience trends, demographics, and interests
  • Key posts by reach or by impact

Volume of Conversation

The first thing to look at is how much content there is on social media that talks about your brand.

While it’s important to have a record of the times your brand is tagged, replied to, or shared, it’s also vital you get a picture of the times users are talking about your brand without using direct channels.

Look for any mentions of your brand, products and services – or significant figures within your brand that might be referenced by name.

You can do the same research around key topics that matter to your brand. This will help you understand where your messaging lines up and where it misses the mark.

Look at:

  • Volume trend over time
  • What occurred during peaks and troughs
  • Topics you appeared alongside
  • Comparison with your competitors


Once you know how much conversation there is around your brand or a particular topic, it’s important to understand what that conversation looks like.

  • Are users positive or negative about your brand?
  • Does their sentiment depend on the topic of conversations?
  • How much is that sentiment affected by industry or current events?

These are all questions that monitoring sentiment can help you answer.

This approach can help to answer the questions above, and can also help you collect benchmark information to help you understand if your social, display, and PR activity are having a positive impact on the perception of, and the conversations around, your brand.

Look at:

  • Sentiment trend over time
  • What occurred during peaks and troughs
  • How do demographics differ when sentiment changes
  • Correlations between topic and sentiment

Audience Trends

While platforms like Analytics allow you to see demographics of people on your website, and some paid advertising platforms, such as Facebook, let you see the demographics of people engaging with paid media. Social listening lets you go one step further.

Rather than just finding out about the kinds of people that directly engage with your marketing, you can start to understand the makeup of the wider audience of people who have engaged with your brand on social, but who may not yet have clicked an ad or converted.

This tactic becomes really powerful when you combine your audience insight data with key topics in your sector. If you know a particular interest drives conversions for your organisation, then look at the demographics of people talking about that interest. How do they line up with the demographics of your brand? If you see a mismatch here, it may suggest that a change in approach or messaging is needed.

Look at:

  • Audience demographics (age, gender)
  • Audience interests
  • Alignment with key topics/ competitors

Key Posts

Once we have a picture of volume and sentiment, and understand key audiences, we can move into one of the more granular aspects of social listening and examine specific “moments.”

This means drilling down into data to discover posts that have had an impact on overall sentiment, or posts that were prominent during peaks or troughs of social engagement.

This can be particularly helpful when aligned with current events or PR, as it can allow you to understand where trends began or where stories started to gain traction, and allow you consider your response with all the necessary context.

Identifying high reach posts and impactful moments that started trends will also help you to pinpoint important accounts or personalities that have an impact on your social media landscape and could be considered for use in an influencer marketing strategy.

Look at:

  • Posts with high reach
  • Posts from key moments



Social Listening Schedule

There are two types of social listening reporting schedules we would recommend. However, it’s worth noting that many brands will require a combination of both approaches.

Regular ‘BAU’ Reporting

Reporting on a set of agreed metrics (e.g. volume of conversation, trend of sentiment, key posts, competitor comparison) at agreed timeframes (e.g. once a month or once a week)

Flashpoint Reporting

Social is a fast moving environment, which means you may sometimes need insight related to “here and now”, either in response to a brand/ sector specific situation or in reaction to current events. In these moments, it’s vital to be able to quickly understand how your brand is being perceived and/or how well any of your interjections have been received.



Get the insight you need

Talk to the Experts

Social listening is a powerful tool and in the hands of the experts can help you better understand your brands position on social media. You need to know how you can make the right decisions to move the needle on how people perceive your brand and how you align with your core audiences.

Get a free Social Listening Audit

We want to help you get your finger on the pulse of social media. We’re giving away a limited number of free Social Listening Audits, with one of our experts diving into the social landscape around your brand and giving you the key insights you need.

To claim your free audit, contact us on 0845 482 2086 and let us know you read this guide!