Social Listening Strategy: Your Compass to Real-Time Audience Insights


Knowing what customers say about your brand is paramount in today’s marketing world. And to achieve this, social listening is your best ally. Plus, a strong social listening strategy to get the most out of the social media data.

To build a strong foundation for success, you need to leverage the existing data and extract actionable insights that help enhance your business’s online presence and serve better your customers.

In this article, you will find out how to use social monitoring and listening in your favour and how to create a powerful social media listening strategy to help you reach your business objectives.


Social Listening Definition

Social listening is the activity of gathering, monitoring and analyzing social media mentions, conversations and feedback about your products, services, industry and competitors.


In a nutshell, it’s about understanding your audience deeper. And depicting its sentiments, needs, concerns and the emerging trends that are revealed in these conversations.


What Is a Social Media Listening Strategy?


A social media listening strategy is a roadmap that shows you how to get the most out of your social listening efforts and accomplish your corresponding goals. It establishes what tools to use, what channels to monitor, what hashtags and keywords to monitor and what data to analyse.


Why is social listening important?


Because it plays a crucial role in relation to: 

  • Obtaining real-time insights. That provides access in real-time to your clients’ conversations and enables you to react promptly to any customer issues or questions.
  • Focusing more on your customers’ requirements. With the advent of social media, clients have more power and can make heard their voices quicker. And as a consequence, you can be more customer-centric and fulfil their expectations.
  • Improving your products/services. The feedback gathered via social listening can help improve your offering as per the market demand. 
  • Earning a competitive advantage. Knowing your competitors’ weaknesses and strengths gives you the possibility to identify emerging opportunities early and transform them into competitive advantage. 
  • Enhanced marketing targeting. Understanding better your audience and its preferences helps create tailored campaigns and improve their respective results. 
  • Reputation management. It offers the possibility to immediately address any negative issue or potential crises, thus protecting your brand’s image.

The Main Elements of a Social Listening Strategy That Brings Results

To create an effective social listening strategy you have to carefully address the following components:

Pick the right social media channels

Today, social media is composed of a large variety of platforms, each with its own characteristics. You cannot be present consistently on all of them. So, you have to focus just on those that are relevant to your business. Those where your audience is present.


For example, if you are in the design industry, Pinterest and Instagram are the main platforms. If you are a B2B business, you should probably privilege LinkedIn


The top priority is to focus your efforts where your audience hangs out and tailor your strategies accordingly. Favour quality over quantity. 


Choose the right social listening tools for your business

Your social listening tools are your secret weapons and they make or break the success of your social listening strategy. As they have to collect and analyse a vast amount of online data and extract actionable insights from an ocean of noise.

In terms of social listening tools, you have a plethora of options at your disposal, Symanto being one very reliable alternative.

When choosing a tool consider several options, and make a list of the features that matter most to your business. Check their capabilities, the accuracy of the sentiment analysis, the social platforms they cover, the costs, the complexity of the interface, etc.


Define clear KPIs and objectives for social listening

Like any other strategy, the social listening strategy is based on key performance indicators (KPIs) and clearly defined objectives. You have to know exactly what you want to achieve via social listening. 

Do you want to know better your audience – thus needing advanced customer insights, to identify early market trends, or to track brand health? Establish your top priority and decide on the correct KPIs to be measured and analysed.

For example, if your objective is to improve the brand sentiment you may follow a performance indicator like positive or negative brand mentions (e.g. decrease of negative mentions by 20% for the next year).

Setting clear and measurable objectives helps lead your social listening efforts and finally deliver the expected results.


How to Develop a Social Listening Strategy?

Follow these steps:


Establish your target audience

First things first. Identify who are the persons that are most valuable for your business. 

Check their interests, behaviour, preferences and demographics. Use these details to create your buyer personas (or ideal client avatars). The better you know your audience, the better the results delivered by the social listening activity.


Monitor and track the elements of interest

Social listening starts with proper monitoring. The first step is to identify the social channels where your potential customers are present. Then monitor these social media channels, plus other blogs, forums or review sites of interest.

To automate this process use the social listening tool you choose.  Inside this tool track mentions of your products/services, brand, competitors, industry and important keywords.

Set automated notifications to keep you informed in real-time when these keywords appear in social conversations. 


Select relevant hashtags and keywords

Your social listening strategy will rely heavily on important keywords and hashtags for the brand. Create a list of keywords and hashtags that have a connection with your products, brand and industry. Plus, common terms, jargon and trending topics. 

The scope is to monitor all meaningful social conversations. Update this list periodically to keep it relevant as online discussions evolve fast.


Extract insights from sentiment analysis

To understand the real emotions behind online conversations count on sentiment analysis. It has the power to show you how your audience perceives your brand – positively, negatively or neutrally. 

The social listening tool of choice will deliver it. 

Negative sentiment will indicate areas that need attention and improvement, the positive sentiment will pinpoint areas of strength and potential competitive advantage.


Engage in conversation

Be social, engage in conversation with your audience where makes sense. Social users appreciate brands that answer promptly on social media. Thus, respond to queries, to positive feedback and mostly to concerns and negative feedback. 


Consider engaging in broader conversations that relate to your industry and competitors, it helps with brand awareness and expert authority.


Process and analyse data

The social data is a treasure trove of valuable insights. Count on your social media listening tool to analyse vast sets of data and deliver actionable insights. 

Try to identify patterns, emerging topics and trends. What are customers interested in, what makes them rave, what concerns do they have, what are your competitors doing?

Interpret the available data and use the findings to improve your offering and overall brand performance. 


Social Listening Tips to Turn Data into an Actionable Strategy

Advancements in AI and Psycholinguistic technology are revolutionising what’s possible with trending social listening tools.

Psychology helps us understand the reasoning behind consumer behaviour, and what subconsciously drives consumers to purchase a product or a service. This means marketing activities are more likely to be consumer-centric when they integrate psychological insights.

At Symanto we care about people’s opinions, emotions, and motivations. We strongly advocate brands to do so. As well as to enhance their connection with their customers, and improve brand advocacy and customer retention. 

Technology needs to have a more human way to interact with our society. That´s why we have developed psychology AI models that understand human personalities, drivers, and barriers in social media.

Use Symanto’s tools to help you turn your social listening data into a practical and actionable social listening strategy.


1. Segment your audience more accurately

Instead of producing broad, demographic data, Psychology AI helps to cluster your audience into more comprehensive segments based on their distinctive psychological traits. 

It then delivers clear guidance to optimize your communication strategy to cater to each segment.


2. Fine-tune your messaging based on personality traits

Personality is what drives consumer behaviour. Knowing your customers helps you not only build a bond with them. But also to predict the success of different marketing initiatives and particularly the success of your marketing strategy and product development.


3. Follow the directives from your audience

While the majority of social listening tools only detect topics in a high-level and generic way, our text intelligence detects all relevant topics in actual conversations organically to find “hidden gems” in the long-tail conversations. 

These insights can essentially amount to your audience telling you what they want from you, and what changes you should make.


4. Make decisions with more accurate results

Social conversation can be extremely noisy, so accuracy is the key to real insights. Our proprietary NLP (Natural Language Processing) technology surfaces audience opinion and sentiment towards the exact topic discussed, and not just on the post level.


5. Focus on your business needs and KPIs

With Symanto, you can get customised reports, where each report and dynamic dashboard are adapted to your specific business needs and KPIs so you get the relevant information to your business goals.

Fully leverage the power of social listening by following these tips in conjunction with Symanto’s suite of products. We guide you with onboarding and consultancy to help you interpret the data, get to grips with psychographic segments, and tailor messages on the deepest level.

Get in touch or book a free personalised demo to find out how our insights platform can enhance your social listening capabilities and enable you to develop an action plan to empower your business.


Measure the Results of Your Social Listening Efforts

To know if you are on the right path, you have to measure periodically the results and return on investment of your social listening strategy.

From your strategic goals and KPIs, you have to determine the metrics to measure at the tactical level. 

Check the following list of metrics and choose those that are relevant to your social listening activity:

Customer satisfaction: Social listening effectiveness reflects itself in overall customer satisfaction. Monitor it and the resolution of customer service issues in real time to have an exact overview.

Mentions Volume: Tracking the number of mentions of your products, brand or main keywords mirrors the extent of your brand awareness. 

Engagement Rates: This shows how well your audience resonates with your messaging. Measure the engagement you receive for your content via likes, comments, and shares.

Sentiment Analysis: Knowing in detail what is the sentiment behind the mentions you receive in the online realm (positive, neutral, negative) delivers insights into how your brand is perceived by your audience. And surface areas that should be improved.

Share of Voice: Be aware of how many times your brand is mentioned in comparison with that of your competition. 

Measuring the effectiveness of your social listening strategy is an ongoing task, that needs adjustments and updates. 

Review regularly the metrics you choose to measure the results of the social listening tasks, experiment with new tactics and strategies and stay in the loop with the latest evolutions of the social media world. 


The limitations of social listening metrics

Social listening tools are great for measuring the engagement and reactions of your activity on social media. 

However, the metrics offered up by most social listening tools merely hint at what is driving the interest and motivation of your audience.

It can be hard to infer meaning from the hard data, and efficiently convert it into an effective action plan. Here are some examples of social listening metrics, and their limitations:



Most social listening tools incorporate demographic information such as location, age, and gender.

The issue with focusing on demographic information is that it can lead you to make decisions based on stereotypes and biases. 

How many times have you been frustrated by an advertising campaign clearly targeted at your age group and gender, in which you have no interest whatsoever? 



Social listening tools track engagement over time and across different social media platforms. 

This is indisputably useful for tracking the success of a brand, a campaign or a product launch. However, instead of simply tracking a line going up and down, it would be far more useful to understand the motivation behind this engagement. 

Why do certain posts have better acceptance and results than others?

In an attempt to answer this question, some social tools offer word clouds to illustrate which words are most commonly used in association with your brand.

 This can be helpful, but it can be difficult to extract useful insights from single words in isolation and out of context.


Brand sentiment

Brand sentiment analysis is crucial to enable you to understand what people are saying about your brand.

With most social listening tools, brand sentiment analysis is fairly rudimentary. The social listening tool will isolate positive and negative words based on a predefined glossary and use that information to tell you the mood around your brand or product. 

However, like word clouds, single words in isolation and out of context can be misleading and don’t paint a full picture of the sentiment of your audience and your customers.

Consequently, pay attention when you choose the tools to help you with social listening. Pick one able to offer advanced insights and that uses the latest technology to extract the essence from the available data. 


Successful Social Listening Strategy Examples

Medical Devices Provider – Symanto’s Client

Advanced social listening strategy

Symanto’s team of experts was tasked by a consumer medical device provider to analyse their clients’ customer journey and find out why customer satisfaction was low.

Using advanced social listening methods Symanto analysed the stores’ site reviews and detected the specific sentiment of relevant topics and pertinent aspects of the customer’s journey. 

They found out that the dissatisfaction of clients was caused mainly by the fact that customers bought their devices without requesting specialised advice from health practitioners.

Moreover, a competitor had a happier customer base because they chose to involve health practitioners early in the customer’s journey. 




The entertainment giant counts on social listening to find out their audience’s reaction to new programmes – movies and shows.


Netflix analyses conversations and the sentiment behind these discussions to make data-backed decisions about the content they create and their promotional campaigns. 



Their main focus in terms of social discussions is body image and self-esteem, which is why the brand chooses to engage actively in such topics. 

Based on the insights gained this way, Dove is able to conceive highly successful campaigns that use the language and speak to the hearts of their audience.



Harness the power of actionable insights, understand your audience better and bring your business to the next level with data-based decisions. Use the above to create a solid social listening strategy, use it to your advantage and propel your brand forward.