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The Hitchhiker’s Guide: Online Social Listening

by Brent Barnhart


If you haven’t noticed right now, social listening is kind of an issue for brands today.

Why? Because we’re effective at learning more than ever by tracking the customers’ social behavior.


What products are people searching? What’ s got your business buzzing? Through social listening, you are able to answer these questions and so much more instantly.


But while the significance of monitoring your mentions and discussions is a no-brainer, many brands are in fact missing out on some crucial interactions mainly because they’re stuck in a bubble.


Reality check: there’s more to listening than the “usual suspects” for example Facebook and Twitter. To guarantee an entire picture of your business’ online existence, stepping up your online social listening is really a must-do.


What is on the web social listening?

Whenever we talk about online social listening, we’re referring to social sites over and above “the big five” (Facebook, Tweets, Instagram, LinkedIn and Pinterest).


Consider the sheer popularity associated with sites such as YouTube, Reddit and Quora. Each is a hotbed of discussion about brands and a place to capitalize on mentions through customers as well.


And while you might not think of these platforms as social sites, bear in mind that they  do  represent active communities along with profiles, comment sections and in order to engage with businesses.


Sounds pretty “social” to all of us!


Why online social listening matters

At a glance, these sites may not seem totally relevant to your brand.

Nevertheless, we’d argue otherwise based on the benefits highlighted below.


Uncover hidden conversations about your company

There’s the universal expectation for businesses to reply in a timely manner to customers upon social media, right?


Right now think about when happens when you neglect to reply at all. Looks bad.


If you have damaging comments simply sitting around on the social site, you’re ignoring your online reputation. On the flip side, failing to reply to questions or even positive comments from customers would mean a skipped opportunity for another sale.


And unlike social media where clients might tag you when speaking about you, these conversations tend to fly under the radar unless you’re explicitly looking for them. By means of online social listening, you make sure that no potential touchpoints with potential clients or customers go unnoticed.

SendGrid, SwipeMail or MailChimp

Maintain a closer eye on your market (and competition)

Conversations about your brand and market at large are happening far beyond than the realms of the Twitterverse.

Reddit and Quora, specifically, are prime places to learn about industry trends and businesses related with your business’ niche. These sorts of posts are insightful as they’re organic and unfiltered. When people are usually talking about your space, ask yourself: have you been part of the conversation?




Take a more holistic method of your online presence

All in all, online social listening gives you a far more comprehensive understanding of your brand emotion.


The conversations individuals are having on your Instagram or Facebook might be night-and-day versus other on the internet forums. There’s no logic in listening to feedback from specific segments of your audience instead of everyone.


Brands should be able to keep track of their presence across  all  social platforms. This is especially true considering that consumers on sites like YouTube or even Reddit can represent high-intent customers who can teach you a ton about what your brand-new customers are looking for.

Exactly what social sites should businesses focus on beyond “the big five? ”

Good question! Even though we’ve already covered a few of the staples of online social listening, let’s dive into the specific platforms and what sort of key phrases and terms you should integrate into the listening strategy.

As video content material continues to take over the web, YouTube signifies one of the fastest-growing communities online.


And while it’s no secret that people love to watch video clips, the degree to which consumers make use of videos for product research is incredible.


Recent video marketing statistics note that 80% of people remember that videos are helpful in making buying decisions.


People are sounding off on products like never before and are using YouTube videos as a creative medium to do so. If you want to understand where your business stands on YouTube or even what your customers are thinking, you need to know exactly what terms to track.


On the internet social listening on YouTube starts together with your brand name. Here’s a good example of curated reviews for Blue Apron. It’s beneficial to not only know what clients are saying about you but also the truth that folks are creating content on your behalf in any way.


Beyond your brand name, “how-to” queries are great as well. Educational, tutorial-style content definitely kills it on YouTube. If you want to understand if people are listing your videos or you want to be featured in such lessons, you need to know what your customers are understanding.


For example, if I had been a company like Alienware or iBUYPOWER, I’d want to know what the best product recommendations are for inquiries such as “How to build a video gaming PC. ”

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“Best” queries are also worth tracking online, such as “best WordPress plugins” or “best Orlando dining places. ”The popularity of listicles and best-of’s, even in video structure, speaks for itself.

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Oh, and don’t forget the actual actions you can create on YouTube as a result of your online social listening.


Just as we often recommend replying as swiftly as possible to customers, the exact same rings true to YouTube content. Showing your viewers some love for them giving you their undivided attention is the least you can do. Monitoring your comment section and notifications can actually help you breed brand loyalty.


For example , companies like Beardbrand actively monitor and answer comments on each and every one of their videos. Frequent discussions, debates and  fun back-and-forth in the comment section between the company and its followers have created a sort of cult-like following that Beardbrand obviously appreciates.


Reddit is somewhat of an enigma for businesses.


That said, it’s a crucial spot to conduct online social listening.


What makes Reddit so complicated? Simply put, its user base is not exactly friendly to organizations or marketers. Most posts or comments that are deemed to be advertising or something self-promotional usually are downvoted into oblivion.

Even so, Reddit is a massive forum of discussion when it comes to brands, products. Many consumers flock to Reddit solely  because it’s free of promotion and marketing spam.


Just look at any Google query for a general product, business or service. The term “Reddit” will pop up alongside such terms as people want authentic opinions in place of SEO results.

Google reddit

So , what should you look for on Reddit?


If you’re a brick-and-mortar business, we recommend following subreddits related to your business and industry. For example, a restaurant based in Chicago would be wise to monitor brand searches in /r/ChicagoFood. The same can be placed on other subreddits such as /r/ChicagoSuburbs or /r/Chicago. These are the places where you’re going to see your business’ name come up.

Top Five List

Also, monitor industry and product-specific subreddit. For example, a local cafe should not only follow geo-specific subreddits, but also niche ones such as /r/barista. These types of subreddits are prime spots to curate content ideas in addition to post your own social content while it’s relevant.


Unlike other web sites where responding to comments is the ritual, brands should tread lightly onto Reddit. This is perhaps the best example where online social listening may literally just mean  listening. If you do decide to respond to people, be sincere and transparent to your intentions.


Review Sites (Yelp, TripAdvisor)

For local businesses, around the internet social listening on review world-wide-web sites is non-negotiable.

Let’s assume that you’ve already claimed your amazing profiles on sites like Yelp and TripAdvisor, you can prioritize your avertissement accordingly.


Review websites are beneficial for beefing up your reputation while also keeping tabs on other programs.   For example , tracking business categories and key terms (think: “vegan” or “vegan Orlando” ) can clue you in upon new competitors in your space.

Online Beans

Yelp! offers a “community answers” section which is an opportunity to reply to customer concerns. As noted in our guide to customer relationships , giving an answer to these types of comments can reduce churn. The process also proves that you’re an active, attentive business owner who cares resulting from customers.



The same can be applied to listening to and responding to reviews, too.


The keyword here is  “listening.” Yes, review sites and star-ratings have made the service community absolutely cutthroat online. Regardless, you should be tactful in how you listen to and respond to complaints and praise the same. Take the time to craft thoughtful responses.


Adopting a “kill them with kindness” mentality can help keep your business in a positive light in the face of less-than-stellar customer happenings. On the flip side, responding to good reviews supplies you with satisfied customers who have all the more reason to come back.


Don’t forget that tracking data is a key component of online social listening. Yelp actually aids you in tracking trends in your reviews make sure your reputation stays on the up-and-up. Although reviews on such locations can be brutal, it’s thought look at the big-picture versus one-off stories.




Quora has become increasingly popular for BUSINESS-ON-BUSINESS professionals within the past few years.


Serving as a Q&A platform, Quora is sort of like Reddit in the sense that pure self-promotion is definitely discouraged. Those answering questions are expected to offer meaningful, authentic insight instead of dumping links.


Quora allows you to search specific brands and products within questions and answers alike. This allows you to track both people talking about you as well as those who may cite your business as a solution.

Application that Connects

Businesses will ideally follow as many topics and queries relevant to their industry as possible. You then have a wider breadth of great questions to answer and places to pick up on conversations about your business.

Social Media Marketing


Tumblr is also a head-scratcher for many brands. In fact, Tumblr themselves admit that their substructure follows the ideology of “anything goes. ”


Regardless, it’s an incredibly popular platform for creative types as well as the bloggers in certain B2C spaces.


Tumblr allows you to search and follow keywords in addition to specific posts. Following topics will populate your personal feed with popular images or blogs from that tag. This can function yet another avenue for inspiration centered on what you’re looking for.

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How to wrangle your online social listening

Between all of these platforms and the more “standard” social sites, you need a definite strategy for social listening.


Because going site-by-site is not only extremely daunting: it’ s downright unproductive.


Remember what we said earlier about taking a holistic manner of listening?


Companies such as Sprout have tools that help with monitoring social channels through a single dashboard.


Are you listening?

There’s no denying that there’ a lot of ground for businesses to cover with respect to social listening.

But that doesn’t change the idea that customers have plenty to say and expect brands to respond.


Hopefully  now you have a better perception of how you can uncover those conversations you are. Through effective social listening, your home based business can win over more followers combined with customers alike by capitalizing on those times that matter most online.


This article was initially published on Go and check out their Listening Solutions as well as Social Management, Social Marketing, Customer Care, Employee Advocacy, and Data and Intelligence

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