Just as it is crucial to improve our listening skills in verbal communication, businesses must improve their social listening skills.


Listening is a crucial part of communication, an area many of us are not skilled in doing effectively. Generally, when we listen, we concentrate on what we will say next, rather than hearing what the other person is saying.  Effective communication requires skilled listening.

Just as listening is necessary for verbal communication, it is equally essential for B2C businesses to engage in social listening. Companies engage more effectively with customers and better understand their expectations when they engage in social listening.

In a previous article, we spoke about the centrality of clients and the importance of delighting them to use a phrase from Jeff Bezos. Social listening is a way to demonstrate the importance we place on our clients, and genuinely listening to what they are saying about our business and acting on this, so we can find ways to delight them.

Social listening is different from considering the metrics of our social media data. Understanding the data of our business is crucial, particularly when we want to look at ROI (Return on Investment).  However, whereas social media monitoring looks at engagement rate and the number of mentions, social media listening considers the mood behind this engagement. In other words, what customers are saying rather than the number of clicks.

Social listening is how your business gathers conversations on social media from clients and customers, reviews what is said, and then uses the learnings from these conversations to improve the brand and customer's experience [1].

Just as we do not often listen effectively in face-to-face communication, many brands do not engage successfully with social listening. However, it should be part of the business's social media strategy. Companies concentrate on the content of their messaging. Sometimes they will review data to see the statistics around impact and engagement rate, but the information they could obtain from social listening is left untouched and therefore untapped in building more effective brand engagement with clients.  A 2020 survey by Socialbakers showed that only 8% of brands used social listening tools to research what clients are saying [2]. This is even though B2C companies are investing more in paid and organic advertising on Facebook and Instagram.  In the first quarter of 2021, businesses spent 60% more on Facebook and Instagram advertising than in the same period in 2020 [3].

Consequently, businesses are not effectively utilising a wealth of comments and client interactions on social media to improve their interaction with them.

How can we use social listening more successfully and strategically?


It is best to start small and be clear about the goals you want to achieve from social listening. Social listening can benefit diverse areas such as:

  1. Content marketing
  2. Customer service
  3. Event management
  4. Crisis and reputation
  5. Sales enablement 
  6. Lead generation
  7. Competitive intelligence
  8. Audience research [4]

Given this range, it is best to start with one or two areas where social listening can benefit.

2. Pick your Channels

Pick two or three channels to monitor where your target clients interact most with content. A social media platform audit will assist with identifying the channels that matter most for your brand and have the most engagement. 

In identifying the channels, refer back to your buyer personas and customer profiles as this will assist in knowing whether they are heavy users of LinkedIn, Twitter, or Instagram [5].

3. Decide if you want to use tools to assist

Businesses that are serious about their social listening strategy may use tools to make it easier to manage. These tools can track keywords, topic areas, and mentions in one place that teams can access, making social listening much more efficient.

4. Remember to engage

The most important part of social listening is to engage quickly with clients and join conversations as they are happening.  Research indicates that 79% of clients expect brands to respond within a day of reaching out on social media, but the average brand response rate is lower than 25% [6]. This is a significant gap and a great opportunity for brands and businesses to respond quickly to clients.  

Providing rapid response builds clients trust and engagement with the brand and gives the business a significant competitive advantage.

Given the increase in businesses engaging with and advertising on social media, social listening is essential for a B2C content marketing strategy. Just as it is crucial to improve our listening skills in verbal communication, businesses must improve their social listening skills.