Social monitoring vs. social listening. What’s the difference?
by Polly Tub, july 2022
2 min read
While these concepts may sound similar, they are two completely different beasts. Fighting for the same cause of boosting your marketing success, they are in no way interchangeable. The key differences are scope and perspective. Simply put, the former is more about action and response, and the latter is about forecasting and creative guessing.

Social monitoring is the more straightforward concept of tracking brand or product name mentions (including misspellings), as well as your main competition. If someone on the web champions your services or curses your very existence as a disgrace to humanity, you’d better take notice and interfere. Deal with a potential crisis while it’s still brewing, cheer up a loyal customer, add to your overall reputation — you name it. In a way, social monitoring acts like customer support that people never have to call or visit — a perfect mastermind in a constant search for something that needs to be fixed.

Social listening, on the other hand, shifts your analytical perspective towards gathering a less loud type of feedback: your customer’s general interests, industry insights, even some speech patterns that can be frequently found side by side with your product name. Looking out for these more nuanced mentions can give you a deeper understanding of what’s going on with your customers, your competition, and your industry. It can fuel your next bold move and help you make better marketing decisions. And yes, the amount of data gathered through social listening can be a bit overwhelming. But that’s what tools like Smelter are for: they provide intuitive visualizations and dashboards that help you see the important things more clearly.

  1. Social monitoring and social listening are two different concepts. Neither is better or worse than the other — it’s rather a question of scale and purpose.
  2. Social monitoring is a straight-to-the-point tool for noticing and reacting to customer feedback.
  3. Social listening opens a door to less loud insights from a broader range of sources.
  4. You don’t have to pick one. In fact, they complement each other.
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