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A Quick Step-by-Step Guide to Social Listening (for Beginners) 

Social listening made easy.

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By Ana Simova
content writer at Ranking Press

In the social media world of today, keeping an eye on what’s being talked about your brand online can benefit your social media marketing strategy in ways you never thought possible. After all, it’s important to listen before you speak, right?

And listening to your clients and potential customers can not only improve your online reputation, but prevent a crisis from escalating in the first place.

Social listening enables you to really listen to your customers and take action based on their feedback . There are plenty of other benefits social listening can bring to your business, so if you want to know more check out what is social listening and can it benefit your business.

In this guide to social listening, we’ll give you step-by-step instructions so you can get started with this process today.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Social Listening to Get You Started


Let’s briefly go over all the essential steps you need to take. 

Define Your Objective / Goal

What’s your reason for deciding to use social listening for your business? This is the first thing you need to decide in order to move on to the next steps. These are the most common objectives:

  • Audience research. 

If you want to get to know your audience better, see what they like and dislike about your brand (if you’re a new business about the industry you’re in), and create your buyer persona.

  • Competitor and product research. 

If you want to understand your competitors better and compare products, social media profiles, marketing strategies, prices, customer satisfaction, and so on. These insights will help you improve your own marketing strategy, work on your strengths and weaknesses, and even win over your competitors’ customers.

  • Identifying influencers. 

Influencer marketing has never been bigger than it is now. Is collaborating with influencers in your niche a part of your social media marketing strategy? If the answer is yes, social listening can help you out.

  • Generating New Leads. 

Every business, be it new or already established, needs new customers. If generating new leads is your current priority, this is the objective you should choose.

  • Customer Service. 

Social media has become the latest place online where consumers leave both positive and negative feedback about brands and the products and services they use. An American Express study, conducted in 2017, found that more than 50% of Americans have changed their minds about buying a product after experiencing bad customer service. This is why many brands nowadays offer customer service directly on social media. 

  • Identify Trends and Drive Innovation. 

Keeping up with the trends of today, especially the ever-changing technology trends, is crucial for staying relevant and ahead of the competition. Decide on this objective if your goal is to show your customers that you’re willing to change with the times and improve the way in which you engage with them.

  • Managing Crisis and Online Reputation. 

In order to maintain your online reputation, you need to respond to complaints and negative feedback as soon as possible. Social listening makes this possible, so if your goal is to prevent crisis from escalating and address customer issues, this is the objective for you.

Of course, this list is not complete. There are other objectives such as finding link-building opportunities, raising brand awareness, and so on, so before moving on, choose at least one if not a couple. 

Another useful thing to mention before we move on – you can use social listening tools no matter your objective. Of course, you can manually research keywords and find mentions, conversations, influencers, and so on, but using social listening tools will save you a lot of time and patience. After all, you’re not only doing research on social media platforms, but forums and other websites as well, so keep this in mind for when we get to this part in the guide.

Locate the Platforms 


After you’ve chosen your objective(s), the next step in this guide to social listening is to figure out where your target audience mostly spends their time. In order to do this task, you’ll need to know who your target audience is first.

Think about which social media platforms they’re mostly active on. Write down every platform where you think they might talk about your brand and share experiences about using your products/services. For example, if you sell skincare products, Instagram would be the first obvious choice.

You can also add some forums such as Reddit and other blogs and websites from your industry where your customers and potential customers spend their time.

Find the Right Tools

There are social listening tools that are specially built for this strategy, and we highly recommend that you use one. Of course, there are both free and paid tools on the market, and we’d suggest that you start with a paid one right off the bat for better and more extensive results. Most of the paid tools offer free trial period, so try one out and see whether it works for you.

Let’s give you a few suggestions for some of the best free and paid social listening tools.

Mention is an all-in-one tool that’s great for social listening. It crawls social media platforms but also blogs, forums, and other sites, finds the conversations where your brand, product/service, or industry is mentioned, and sends you this information in a neatly-packaged document. It also identifies trends, influencers, does competitive analysis, social media management, and much more.

You can use it for free or choose one of the several packages they offer, the cheapest one being $29 a month, or $25 if you pay for the whole year.

Awario also tracks mentions of your brand, competitors, industry, and so on across social media and other sites. It immediately informs you about a mention as soon as it is created so you can react on time and potentially prevent a rumor from spreading. It also gives you sentiment analysis, finds relevant influencers from your industry, has a lead generation feature, and much more.

Social Searcher is a free social listening tool that gives you not only social media mentions but also analyzes blog, image, and video content. You have a premium version as well which offers even more features.

Are you on multiple social media platforms? Sign up to Amplifr to manage your accounts with a single dashboard, schedule all your posts months in advance, and receive the best analytical insights and posting time suggestions.

Do the Social Listening 

  • Audience research. 

Choose keywords that are specific to your particular industry and look for conversations that relate to your brand and the overall industry you’re in. What’s the users’ gender, location, age, interests, likes and dislikes about your brand, your competitors, and/or your industry? 

  • Competitor and product research. 

Use your biggest competitors’ brand names as keywords and look for conversations where these brands are mentioned. You can then compare social mentions relating to you and your competitors and identify the mistakes they’ve made whether in the way they address their customers, the way in which they market their products or services, their prices, shipping, and so on. This way you’ll not only be better-prepared to tackle those problems in the future, but you’ll also try and prevent these problems from occurring in the first place.

  • Identifying influencers. 

Finding the perfect influencers for your brand can be done via manual keyword research, but we strongly recommend that you use a tool for this endeavor. Just insert the keywords relating to your company, industry, and competitors, and the tool will identify the influencers that are best suited for your brand. 

If you want to know more about influencer marketing, check out the following guides:

  • Generating New Leads. 

You can start by coming up with keywords your target audience mostly uses when searching for a product or service that your company sells. You can even do this type of keyword research for products or services similar to those you sell. Whenever you see someone dissatisfied with something, offer a free trial of your service or a free sample of your product and who knows, you might get new costumers in the process.

  • Customer Service. 

Use your brand name and the names of your products/services as main keywords both with and without the “@” symbol. Use the correctly spelled words but also misspelled words and look for both positive and negative mentions. You can thank the positive comments and reply to those who either ask questions or complain about your brand. 

  • Identify Trends and Drive Innovation. 

The most practical way to look for trends is by using social media tools. They’ll tell you what a specific audience cares about, what terms and conversations are trending, the trending topics in your industry and so on. You can even find exactly where the trend originated from and track its evolution so you better understand it.

  • Managing Crisis and Online Reputation. 

The various tools we mentioned will help you to identify every mention where customers have left complaints or negative feedback about your brand in general or the products/services you sell. Some social listening tools give you the option to set alerts so that you know exactly when someone has mentioned you in a negative context. This way you’ll be able to respond immediately and show your customers that you’re here for them and you care.

Analyze Your Data and Take Action


After the social listening session is over (which can last a few days even weeks), you can analyze the data manually or with a help of a social listening tool. Some questions you can ask yourself are:

  • Do you have more positive or negative feedback?
  • What is the negative feedback about? Can these things be remedied? 
  • Does your target audience prefer your competitors over you? If yes, why?
  • Are your customers happy with the customer service you offer? 
  • How good is your online reputation? 

The answers to these question will tell you what type of action you need to take, whether something as simple as responding to your customers more often or changing something about your brand or the products/services you offer. Remember, the point of social listening is to really understand what your customers and potential customers what from your brand so you can give them what they want and keep them happy so they keep coming back for more. 

More Social Listening Tips

  • Do you know that nowadays, over 80% of consumers expect immediate response from brands regarding their sales and marketing inquires? Yeah, that’s a lot of consumers, so make sure you deliver. If you cannot, maybe it’s time to hire a customer support agent.
  • Social listening is not only about responding to negative comments and complaints. It’s about acknowledging positive feedback as well! It can be as simple as saying “thank you” or writing a full sentence where you express your gratitude to the customer in question. And yes, this is how you create loyal customers. 
  • Identify the times when most of your audience is online. These are the times when you need to be extra attentive and engage with your audience. Amplifr is a scheduling and analytics tool that gives you the best posting times, so you can use it to identify the exact time when most of your social media followers are online,

Sign up to Amplifr to receive the best posting time predictions and schedule your content effectively on multiple social media accounts.

We hope this step-by-step guide to social listening encouraged you to get started with this valuable process.  Keeping your customers and potential customers happy is the goal of every business, and social listening is how you make that happen.

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