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Social Listening

On more than one occasion I have come across these questions: How does social listening work, what is social listening for, how can this study impact my company or business? This is one of those “marketing” terms that has been talked about for quite some time and is still not 100% understood. 

With the emergence of social networks or Social Media, many questions arise, and it is essential to see these platforms as a valuable asset for communicating with consumers, customers, buyers, etc. Read all about social listening here.

To the point, I have three definitions:

👂Listening Social Media

“Social Listening is the organized way to observe, distribute, categorize and rank the publications that users make on the Internet, found through keywords with the help of specialized software to find behaviors, trends and common variables that serve to make business decisions”.

“Social Listening is a way to interact with social network users in real time through keywords that they included in their posts regardless of whether or not they mentioned our brand, this with the help of specialized software.”

“A Social Listening is an affordable study of the profile of the user, consumer or buyer of a brand to know what is their perception of the brand, product or service with the help of specialized software. (It works only if you have a relevant representative sample of publications to make the study)”.

📢Social listening 2021

Social Listening can not only be done based on products, brands and services; any topic on the Internet is susceptible to study as long as you have a significant sample to show results, for example peace, security, conversations around pregnancy or whatever you can think of and you see that it has value for your business.

To better understand the overall term social listening, social listening, listening marketing, etc., let’s look at some key terms that should be understood to cover the topic.

💬Anatomy of a post

All social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or LinkedIn, allow their users to make posts and this is the core of all the content that is produced and where the conversation is oriented. A post should be composed of the following:

Headline: In case the publication comes from a web source such as news, it can have a headline.

Post body: Basically it is the text of the post, here you will find everything written by the user.

Author: The author’s data can be collected, the author is the user who writes the publication.

Date: It is the record of collection date, date and time.

Tag: A tag is that set of words and characters that begin with the special character # popularly known as hashtags. (must not have spaces)

Mention: A mention is the set of letters and characters that begin with the @ character, this is used to name other users on the Internet.

Each of these items are part of the tool parameterization and will allow you, together, to find commonalities, trends and how a conversation or topic flows over time.

👁️‍🗨️Social listening in social networks

The sources of social listening are the platforms where users interact or use frequently and from where we can collect the publications to start our study. To do a social media listening we should start from Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, blogs, forums, news portals, etc.

To elaborate a digital listening you can not only collect posts from users who belong to your community as followers or fans, the software you choose to elaborate this study will collect the posts indiscriminately according to the keywords you have decided are relevant.

❓How does social listening work?

As you saw in the graphic above, all this is a process, I will describe it in these bullets to make it easier for you to see:


📝Social listening input

Here you make your plan and research about what you want to collect and choose the keywords you want to find in the publications in an organized way.


⚙️Social listening configuration and harvesting

In this step you will have to configure the social listening tool, usually through Boolean parameters such as “OR”, “AND”, “NOT”.


🖥️Social listening information processing

Each of the tools has its own way of displaying the information it collected, basically what it does is to take the database, based on the keywords you gave it and “paints” it into graphs and tables according to your needs.


⭐Social listening presentation

At the end of the journey you give it your personal touch, data analysis, findings, insights, trends, predictions and others that support the entire process that has been done.

🛸What will you find when you do social listening?

First of all, many publications and a lot of information that you may not know at first glance where to start analyzing, but in general terms, this is what a social listening study is for:

  • Knowing the digital reputation.
  • Know from which sources users are talking about the brand, product or service.
  • Know the volume of posts over time and discover what trends have motivated those conversations to make a possible prediction.
  • Know the authors of the posts and discover if some of them can influence or serve in the marketing strategy.
  • Know other relevant news sources to generate content or know what they are talking about my category, product, brand or service.
  • Know new keywords that I can relate to for communication and business development.
  • To know common topics of conversation of the users of my brand, product or service to include in the development of the business.
  • To know detractors and ambassadors of my products and services.

💡How to do a Social Listening?

I want to solve this question, I have searched on Google and I have not found any strong information about it, there is a lot of content that does not go to the point. I’m going to do it in steps to explain as best as possible:

⚠️Required skills

  • Analytics
  • Social Media
  • Tool configuration
  • Boolean parameters
  • Spreadsheets

🔧 Tools required

  • Spreadsheets
  • Social listening tool

Total cost: USD 0


Total time: 5 days

  • 1. Keyword strategy for social listening

    In this part you should look for all possible words that relate to the brand or business, I would do it according to the example in the table above.

    Organize it in a similar way if the listening is related to a topic and not to brands or products, find commonalities that you can group together without cluttering the groups you have built.

  • 2. Relevant user research in social listening

    You must keep in mind that the name of your product, brand, competitor, etc. is not always the same and in social networks may differ, it is advisable to have a complete list of the names in all social channels to find the right information. In the table you will find an example of a name in each social network and its possible variations.

    As you can see, you can be mentioned through different names and you have to have on the map all the possible combinations to make a well structured social listening.

  • 3. Social listening tool setup

    Active listening tools are parameterized or configured according to their own mechanisms; however, most of them work very similarly, basically they will ask you which words you want to search for, which words you want to exclude, in which geographic location you want to search for publications, which groups of words you are going to use and the language.

    Be careful with the geographic location, the tools will use the information that the user has declared in the social network and many times it will not find accurate data since many of them simply declare to live in “wonderland”, “their parents’ house” or in “limbo”. Depending on the software you choose, you can go down to a country or department – province level to geographically categorize the posts you collect.

  • 4. Data processing in social listening

    If you had the opportunity to pay for a good software you should not worry too much, the information will be organized in graphs and tables to be able to analyze and understand what you are looking for. If you need to go deeper you should download the data in Excel and pivot the data as you wish, personally this is the method I use to make these studies, although the tool has its intelligence, it does not overcome all the adjustments and modifications that I make along the way.

Social listening report example

A .ppt under a good organization would be enough to present a Social listening report that satisfies your requirements, do not complicate yourself, the clearer and better argued the data the better, download an example of how I present this report here.

Ejemplo de Social Listening de carlos8705

🔧Social listening tools

Currently there is a huge offer of tools to perform this type of studies and each one offers differentials such as the way of pivoting and presenting the data, the collection model, the collection sources, the interface, the customer service (there are even companies that assign you an advisor who does many things for you).

Unfortunately I have not seen a good one whose monthly fee is below USD $1,000 per month, not to mention that you must have a contract for a certain period of time, at least 3 months in most cases. This makes the acquisition of this type of services complex and even more so for small businesses. Social Listening tools are very expensive.

Personally I have had the opportunity to work with Sodash, Sprinklr, Radian 6 (now Social Studio) Sysomos and TracX (when it was called that).

🤘My personal review

In my personal opinion, social listening tools work basically the same. I like to work with Social Studio and Sysomos because of the ease of their interface and the historical data collection, with these tools you can do an “overnight” data sweep and they give you the possibility to collect mentions from several days ago, so you get a decent sample and you can make a study immediately; otherwise, other tools will start collecting information as soon as you parameterize them and you will have to wait to get a sample of publications that satisfies the study.

Another pro of these tools is their flexibility; that is, you can make queries that are not included in the contracted plan and allow you to make several studies without the need to be billed for them, unless you are monitoring specific brands or topics.

Social Listening in 2021 can help you learn about different aspects of your brand, topic, product or service. However, you must study very well and thoroughly what you want to know through it so that you do not waste time and money in the attempt.


📥Social Listening PDF

Social Listening
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Social Listening
On more than one occasion I have come across these questions: How does social listening work, what is social listening for, how can this study impact my company or business? This is one of those "marketing" terms that has been talked about for quite some time and is still not 100% understood. 
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