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What's the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

What's the difference between social listening and social monitoring?


For many, social listening and social monitoring are the same. While they both enable you to use social media data, they’re distinct strategies, with unique advantages. Read on to learn what sets them apart and discover which better aligns with your business objectives.

What is the meaning of social monitoring?

Social monitoring involves tracking mentions of your brand, comments, and engagement on various social media platforms. By doing so, you can stay in tune with your digital presence and promptly engage consumers.

The key objectives of social monitoring are as follows:

  • Understanding the reach and impact of your brand's social media activities.
  • Detecting and addressing customer needs, complaints, and feedback in real time.
  • Identifying and engaging with brand influencers and advocates.

Social monitoring helps you find critical discussions, allowing you to address urgent issues before they spiral out of control. This way, you can confidently stay ahead of the curve and make a lasting impact.

What is the meaning of social listening?

While social monitoring delivers valuable insights into what consumers say about your brand, social listening goes further. It dives deep into the context, sentiment, and trends of social media conversations. Uncovering patterns and valuable consumer insights. The objectives of social listening include:

  • Gauging overall brand sentiment and perception,
  • Discovering emerging conversations, trends, and opportunities,
  • Exploring audience preferences, interests, and expectations to inform marketing strategies.

Social listening tools go beyond simple data collection. They can unveil the true meaning behind online conversations, transforming raw data into powerful insights.

Discover what is social listening in our comprehensive guide.

Social listening vs social monitoring

For social monitoring and social listening, there are distinct variations. Understanding these differences can help you harness the full potential of these strategies and achieve the desired results.


Social monitoring is more about brand-specific mentions and interactions. However, social listening goes beyond that to encompass broader conversations. It can uncover industry trends, reveal new spaces for consumer engagement, and even inspire product innovation.

While social monitoring focuses on your social media channels, social listening takes a much wider scope. It can also include:

  • Analysis of competitor channels,
  • Mentions of your brand, products, and services,
  • Data from blogs, news, reviews, and other sources.

Take, for instance, this complaint about sugar in a product. While social monitoring would simply label it as a customer complaint, social listening goes beyond that. 

It can uncover a broader trend of consumer discontent about sugar in common food products. Offering valuable insights on how to address this issue in the future and enhance overall customer satisfaction. Through social listening, you can tackle such concerns head-on and make informed decisions to improve your customers' experience.

Depth of Analysis

Social monitoring looks at individual social media mentions. Social listening goes further by interpreting all these mentions to deliver deeper and more valuable insights.

For example, social monitoring could show an increase in social media posts over a month. But social listening can uncover a crucial detail: most of those mentions were negative. By diving deeper, social listening can reveal the reasons behind this negativity, and provide actionable information for improvement.

Crisis signsBy including sentiment analysis, social listening enables users to see when a spike in brand mention is a problem.

Social listening helps you gain a comprehensive understanding of your brand's online presence and make data-driven decisions.


Social monitoring is crucial in taking immediate actions like quickly responding to customer inquiries. On the other hand, social listening guides long-term strategies and empowers you to understand market dynamics effectively.

While social monitoring allows you to address an individual customer's complaint, social listening delves deeper into the root cause. Providing valuable insights necessary to tackle the issue on a companywide scale. By leveraging both approaches, businesses can make informed decisions and drive positive outcomes.


Social monitoring is often reactive, addressing complaints and issues as they arise. While this may appear efficient in the short term, it ultimately results in slower progress in the long run.

Social listening is more proactive. Its objective is to identify issues or potential crises before they occur. Helping you use consumer insights to drive impactful business changes.

This minimizes the number of complaints and enhances overall brand perception. Enabling you to take decisive action, and shape a positive brand image.


Social monitoring typically involves a manual approach. It requires reading and engaging with individual messages, thoroughly comprehending the situation, and directly responding with appropriate solutions.

On the other hand, social listening takes automation to the next level. Social listening platforms rely on automation to efficiently manage brand data and extract valuable insights. AI often plays a crucial role, enabling users to interpret data at an unprecedented speed.

graph 1 1AI Insights are essential for understanding large volumes of data. Here, a simple summary of what's causing a spike in mentions saves you hours of reading and interpreting social conversations. 

With the power of social listening and AI, businesses can gain valuable information and stay ahead of the game. Start leveraging these tools to unlock deeper insights and make informed decisions.

When to Use Each

Social monitoring is ideal for real-time issue resolution, and promptly addressing customer complaints. On the flip side, social listening is invaluable for understanding customer sentiment, monitoring competitors, and identifying emerging market trends. Both these practices are crucial for staying ahead, gaining valuable insights, and ensuring the success of your brand.

When to use social monitoring

Social monitoring is ideal for direct consumer engagement. 83% of customers agree that they feel more loyal to brands that respond and resolve their complaints. Complaints aren’t necessarily damaging to your brand, but failing to respond to them could be.

Social monitoring covers the spectrum of consumer engagement.

  • Answer questions. If consumers want a fast faster, they should be able to connect via social media. Social monitoring enables you to answer these questions quickly.
  • Say thanks. Consumers can often share positive feedback too. Acknowledging this helps build a connection, and boost positive brand conversations.
  • Respond to complaints. By responding to online complaints, you can engage your audience, and prevent a social media crisis

When to use social listening

Social listening is a powerful tool that can gather valuable insights for a diverse range of use cases. Its applications are practically limitless, providing consumer-focused insights that can drive impactful results.

Whether it's optimizing marketing strategies, improving customer experiences, or staying ahead of the competition, social listening is the key to unlocking success.

Customer-centric companies are 60% more profitable compared to companies that are not focused on the customer. This makes consumer insights extremely valuable in roles like:

  • Crisis management. You can identify crises, and use social listening to understand what consumers are saying. Allowing you to shape your messaging to engage those conversations, for more successful crisis management.
  • Campaign optimization. By understanding your consumer conversations, you can adapt your content for better engagement and faster results.
  • Trend research. Stay ahead of the competition by predicting future trends, enabling you to create products you know consumers will love.
  • Customer satisfaction. Reshape your customer service to meet all expectations, and shape products and services that resonate with your audience.
  • Competitive intelligence. Social listening can help uncover missed markets, highlight competition weak spots, or identify new content ideas.

Talkwalker’s PMP framework covers 16 different use cases. These are areas where social listening can protect, measure, or promote your brand.

Talkwalker’s Next-Gen Social Listening

Social listening surpasses social monitoring. But what if you could take your performance to the next level?  Talkwalker's Next Generation Social Listening is designed to shape the future of social listening. Powered by generative AI, it empowers you to work faster than ever, making social data accessible to all.

As mentioned earlier, social listening ensures consumer-centricity across your entire business. With Next Gen Social Listening, all your departments, from customer support to marketing, can easily access consumer insights.

Thanks to AI Summaries, hundreds of brand mentions are transformed into concise overviews. Providing a quick understanding of any situation.

And with our Yeti AI assistant, you'll have an on-hand analyst ready to deliver swift insights based on plain language prompts.

To learn more about how Talkwalker is creating the next generation of social listening, and how it can help your business, click below.



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