How To Get Started With Social Listening

Martin Taylor | Monday, February 17 2020

We all know somebody who has refused to join in the fun on Instagram, has no interest in Twitter and has decided to delete their Facebook account.

They are very keen to tell you how they just are not interested in social media and don’t care how popular it is with everybody else.

This is all well and good for your friend, however this just cannot be the case for your business.

No matter what your company sells or the services you offer, your customers are now using social media.

They will be talking about you or having discussions with others and engaging with conversations that you most certainly should be part of, involving your industry or products and services relevant to you.

You can choose not to take part but make no mistake about it, you will be missing out big time. 

In this blog post we will show you how you can monitor these conversations, engage when it matters, keep an eye on your competitors and everything else that happens on social media that is important to your business.



Now that social media has become an integral part of everyday lives it is impossible to manually track everything being said on a daily basis that can affect your business.

When you consider that on Twitter there are currently over 500 million tweets sent every day, that works out to over 8,000 per second.

On Instagram there are over 4.2 billion post likes on a daily basis therefore it is almost unthinkable as to the volume of activity these days on social media platforms. 

Not only is it going to be a complete waste of time to even try and manually find all activity important to you that is happening every day, but it is also a certainty that you are going to miss things.

This is why you need a social listening tool that can find and report back to you automatically everything that has relevance and potential impact on your organization that is happening on social media, in real time, no matter when and how often it occurs. 

If you want to make social media work for you, a social listening tool is essential to provide your organization with the insights needed to drive your future marketing efforts.

Social media can have both a positive and a negative affect on organizations in all industries, simply choosing not to take part and ignoring it all together is a major risk. If this is where you are currently then we strongly recommend you read the rest of this article.


Before we get into the nitty gritty it is first important to clarify what social listening really is. 

You may have heard of the term social monitoring and be thinking that this is just another term pertaining to the same activity, that is not actually the case however.

Social monitoring is about collecting data across social media platforms and reporting back on specifics relating to the activities happening such as posts, mentions and engagement rates.

Social listening is about looking deeper into the data that your social monitoring activity has retrieved over time and analyzing it in detail to provide actionable insights and trends that can help to shape your future marketing efforts and planning.

For example, being able to look into the mentions and posts relating to you and understanding the sentiment behind them to get a real understanding of how people feel about your brand and activity online. 

Social listening gives your organization the ability to take action based on the data you have retrieved by giving more context and understanding around what is happening as opposed to just being able to report statistics which give no real explanation as to the ‘why’ behind the results. 

Social listening adds context and intelligence to the raw data being received to provide actionable information to the benefit of the recipient. 

Therefore, social monitoring looks at things in isolation, "The What", whereas social listening looks at the bigger picture and provides deeper insights "The Why".

By utilizing social listening your organization can not just deal with the data as it comes in and react accordingly to all relevant activity, it can also perform valuable reviews, insights and trends that enable you to shape future strategy aligned for success.


With the major advantage of being able to manage multiple social profiles from a single place, the benefits can be huge. 

Put simply, social listening can assist your organization in two main areas:

  1. Grow your business
  2. Protect your business


On a positive side, social media brings great opportunity to grow your brand, expand your audience and connect much closer with your customers.

It has been well documented that when people are looking for help with something or searching for information on a particular topic, social media is now more often than not the place people are turning to first.

Turning to their peers and other social media influencers for opinions and experiences has become ever more popular among consumers and buyers across all age groups.

Therefore, what better way to find new customers and provide 1-2-1 communication and assistance directly on the platforms they are already on, in a place where they have already asked for help.

This is only possible of course if you can find out where they are.

In order to know where they are, what they are saying, who they are saying it to and why, a comprehensive social listening tool is the essential tool every organization needs.


There is also however, a negative side that must be considered.

Reputation loss is now a greater threat than ever to organizations of all size due to the explosive nature of social media and the ability for negative comments and content to spread far and wide without any prior notice.

No matter how well you conduct yourself, this can happen to any organization at any time.

Bad news can spread faster than ever via social media networks which could result in massive reputation loss in a worryingly short amount of time.

According to American Express, people tell an average of 15 people when they have experienced poor customer service.

But with the introduction of social media, it’s clear that this can double, triple or much more, with people being more cautious over which brands they can trust to deliver an exceptional product or service.

It is clear that you cannot choose to simply ignore this potential risk to your company reputation and not be present on social media, even if you wish to remain fairly inactive or proactive with regards to content creation and promotion.

The best way to prevent any reputation loss on social media is to use a social listening tool to give your organization the time it needs to react to any potential negativity surrounding your brand.


As with most strategic decisions aligned with digital marketing and social media it is important for you to first understand what your business goals are. 

You need to be clear on what it is you want acheive with social listening and have a understanding on what constitutes a successful social listening implementation.

To get you started we have outlined below some of the most common use cases with a little review of each to help you get started today.


A sensible place to start is to make sure that every mention and discussion about your company and anything to do with your products and services is captured.

This will enable you to make a decision on the most important mentions and provide immediate and direct responses where you feel it is needed.


When people are reaching out for help and they receive a swift and direct response from you it shows that you are a company that cares about their customers. 

What a great opportunity to provide great customer service by having real time notifications whenever anyone requires help or assistance from you.

Also when people may make positive remarks about you, why not also thank them for their comments and increase the feel good factor about your brand across the social media network.


Analyze all mentions of your products and start to accumulate the general experience and satisfactions around each product and service you offer.

Just because you have responded to a request or issue about your products does not mean that is the end of the matter.

Make the most of the social listening tool by maintaining a record of all engagement and comments segmented by each area of your business and analyzing the sentiment, satisfaction and experiences of each to enable you to make better decisions on future developments.


A critical area that all organizations should be aware of.

Look out for negative words associated with anything related to your own brand and products and look out for particular spikes in mentions that could indicate a social media crisis could be about to occur.

Sometimes the smallest of things can escalate into a nightmare scenairo for your brand and online reputation, this can be avoided with an early warning system in place.

This is a vital area, and we would recommend you read and follow everything outlined in our Social Media Crisis Management Playbook.



Setting up a system to monitor and report back on your most important competitiors need not take too long, but the benefits can be huge.

You can learn new strategies and understand what is working for them when they are targeting the same audience as you. It might also help to spark new product ideas for the future.

It will also enable you to compare yourself and see where your brand stands in the share of voice you currently receive across all chatter relevant to you.

A social listening tool will enable you to never miss a thing your competitors are doing and make sure you stay one step ahead.


Keep up to date with all the popular conversations taking place in your industry and make sure you start to participate so people that are interested in your products get to see your input.

This will help you to find indirect competitiors that perhaps complement what you do and enable you to look for collaborations that benefit both parties.

It also means you can always be one of the first to respond to any major changes happening that affect your industry and start to initiate conversations instead of trying your best to keep up and often being slow to react.


Many companies are now benefiting from partnering up with and working alongside social media influencers to help increase brand awareness across social media.

However, sometimes it can prove difficult to find the right ones can to work with but not if you set up regular reports to show who has the largest following already and are talking about your competition or industry relating topics.

This gives you the big picture of all the social media influencers that could bring benefit to your brand and more importantly be quick to spot the new up and coming influencers that your competition have not already spotted.


With the strategy now defined its important to make sure that you are able to achieve your goals and get your tool set up to maximize the benefits you want to achieve.

You need the right data coming in and available to the right people when they need it to get the most out of social listening.

It is not difficult to do, but important it is done correctly by following the advice below.


You must get smart about how you approach each area to make sure you minimize the unnecessary noise and get to see what you really need to.

Keywords are the key ingredient to making sure you get to see the data you want and not have your inbox filled up with inaccurate or irrelevant information.

One of the key functions you should look for is boolean search which allows you to be really specific in your search criteria for each use case.

For us here at Qurate for example, if we want to track our brand mentions without using boolean search we will get a lot of unwanted data due to having an unrelated but similarly named company in Qurate Retail Group.

We can however avoid this scenario by choosing to ignore any mentions of Qurate that are followed by the name Retail. We can also be more specific about the mention of Qurate and use a ton of search terms combined for just one singe alert.

Without being able to use the boolean search function we would not be able to so accurate and specific in the data we recieve on a daily basis, for us this is essential in any social listening tool.


Having comprehensive analytics and being able to build custom charts, reports and alerts is what brings all the above functionality together.

The less hands on approach required on your behalf the better and if you can automate the availability of the data you want, when you want it, into nice easy to read graphs and charts then you will have more time left in your day to deal with other aspects in your business.

To get you started here are a few metrics you should consider tracking and measuring:

  • Number of brand mentions
  • The volume and reach of your brand
  • Share of voice compared to any other specified accounts
  • Trends and changes happening over time
  • Sentiment around your mentions and any keywords 
  • The top social influencers in your industry


As with all software the tool is only as good as the person using it.

Therefore following these guidelines will get you on the right path:

  1. Set your goals aligned with your business
  2. Select the right tool for the job
  3. Make sure you are tracking and reporting the right data
  4. Always be on hand to respond in quick time to any developments
  5. Never stop reviewing and monitoring both your own strategy and that of your competitors

Social listening is just one part of an overall social media marketing strategy that need not be overly difficult and complicated.

Social media has provided organizations with a great opportunity to grow their brand and audience in ways never possible before.

Embrace the ever changing landscape online and make sure you have the right tools to do all the hardwork for you.

Click here to learn more about Qurate Discover, the social listening tool with a difference that helps you protect your brand online.

Click here for a FREE consultation and demonstration on how Qurate can help you grow your business online.