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What Is Social Media Monitoring? A Guide to Social Listening

April 26, 2024

social media monitoring

Social media isn’t just about sharing photos or videos anymore. It’s become a great tool brands can use to boost their presence. 

To do so, brands need an effective social media strategy, and in order to create one that supports their business goals, they need to stay on top of what their audience likes and is responding to.

So how do they do that beyond looking at how many likes or comments their content is getting within a few hours or days of posting? For any social media manager handling a brand account, ongoing social media monitoring is the answer to success on any platform.

For instance, a company may use monitoring software to track their Instagram or Facebook account, looking at different levels of user engagement such as likes, comments, shares, saves, or follows. 

Social listening can also be a proactive way to monitor conversations about a brand online. This can be done by monitoring tagged mentions and tracking wider ways of communication, such as conversations between users on a social platform that may mention a brand or product name without the brand actually being tagged by the user.

Businesses typically use social media listening and monitoring software to track metrics across multiple social media accounts on different platforms at any time. This data is incredibly valuable and can be used for ongoing reporting and historical comparisons over the account's lifetime. Additionally, competitor information and industry trends can be tracked through these tools, giving marketers crucial insights to build strategies around.

Types of social media monitoring

Most social media monitoring can be categorized into proactive and reactive tracking. 

Proactive monitoring usually refers to listening, where brands set up ongoing tracking for possible future mentions of the company, products, or services. This may also include trend data showing which larger topics potential customers or competitors are discussing. 

Reactive monitoring generally looks at what’s already happened, such as user behavior towards posted content. This gathers data on information such as likes, follows, comments, or shares of the brand’s content.

Trending hashtags or keywords

Some industries may have particular phrases or hashtags repeatedly used on social media by other businesses and customers. Tracking these can help you find the best ways to reach new audiences with your content. 

Share of voice (SOV)

An important metric to track as a business is the share of voice, which refers to how much of the total conversation online is about your business versus competitors'. For example, a business commanding 75% SOV online means that three-quarters of all conversations around that industry or related products are specifically about that brand rather than similar ones by competitors. 

This can be good or bad. For instance, if your brand has had some negative press recently, a high share of voice may be around this rather than around more positive aspects of the brand.


Understanding how people feel about your business is as important as what they say. Gauging the mood of comments, or sentiment, is vital to getting a better idea of the emotional response online audiences have towards the company.


No one wants to post social media content and have only a handful of people like it. Tracking engagement metrics such as likes, comments, and shares indicates what kinds of content people like most and can help inform future content creation strategies to resonate the most with an audience.

Social return on investment (ROI)

There’s always a concern when a brand uses influencers to run advertising or sponsored content — is a partnership with that individual paying off? Brands running these paid social media ads can use social media monitoring software to track engagement metrics and directly link those to the revenue being made versus the money spent on running the ads.

Benefits of social media monitoring

Sharing on social media, for many users, is simply a way to keep their friends and family up-to-date with their lives. However, for brands, social posts are a continual way to promote your products or services and build a community online through content that accurately represents your brand in public. Monitoring what’s happening on your social channels is essential for many reasons, including:

Improving brand reputation 

Awareness of what’s being said about your brand online at any given moment means you can react as quickly as possible in positive and negative situations. 

Whether it’s a customer service request, a complaint about something that’s gone wrong, or praise for a product or service, companies continually monitoring conversations about themselves can move faster when something needs addressing. 

Over time, this helps maintain and improve brand reputation, making the business appear responsive and helpful.

Generating more engagement 

Not all businesses will be tagged by people talking about them online. In such cases, ongoing social media monitoring means that you can participate in conversations about your company and your industry, creating engagement opportunities with potential customers that may not have occurred without monitoring in place. 

Understanding how content is performing

Knowing what audiences think about your content is key to deciding what content you want to create in the future.

Suppose your audience demographic doesn’t respond well to videos but loves photography. In that case, there’s little point in spending time, and possibly budget, on high-quality videos that may not even be watched. Instead, knowing what content is performing well provides marketers with insights to inspire later content, increasing the odds of higher engagement rates and possibly leads.

Top social media monitoring software

The best social media monitoring software allows marketers to track across multiple social media sites, with various content types being monitored at any time. Both social listening and performance analysis can provide helpful insights into what content is doing well and how the wider world views your brand on social media.

To be included in the Social Media Listening Tools category, platforms must:

  • Listen for specific mentions across social media
  • Identify trending topics or phrases
  • Detail customer sentiment
  • Organize customer information
  • Identify thought leaders and influencers

* Below are the top five leading social media listening software solutions from G2’s Spring 2024 Grid Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity.

1. Sprout Social 

Sprout Social is an intuitive social media monitoring platform that allows businesses of all sizes to schedule, track, and analyze their social media posts. Collaborate across teams in real time, build automated workflows for content creation and posting, and make more strategic business decisions with social analysis tools.

What users like best: 

“Along with using Brand keywords in Smart inbox and preparing Social Listening queues, it has helped me and my clients to know a lot about not just what people are talking about us but also about our competitors which has helped in our growth.”

- Sprout Social Review, Greha L.

What users dislike: 

“It is not possible to upload custom thumbnails for TikTok or Instagram reels, we didn't get access to Twitter Media until we were in the second month of use, and not until after we complained. We had a difficult time getting in touch with anyone to answer our questions. It logs us off of Google Drive every few minutes, and if we had done any work before that issue was noticed, we have to redo everything.”

- Sprout Social Review, Katy E.

2. Hootsuite 

With Hootsuite, scheduling across multiple social media platforms is easy. Manage both organic and paid social channels while tracking conversation about your brand in real time with valuable data insights in a single dashboard. Hootsuite also offers training and certifications to uplevel your social media skills.

What users like best: 

“Sometimes I am short of time to make organic posts so I can always rely on the stock posts for our company to schedule and plan for the week ahead. It is easy to implement our seasonal message, the customer support is fabulous. I use Hootsuite weekly and sometimes daily. The number of features I can use to personalize my message are endless and I have not had a problem even after one year integrating our company message during different campaigns.”

- Hootsuite Review, Janis B.

What users dislike: 

“One drawback I've encountered with Hootsuite is the occasional limitation with the tag feature, especially on Twitter. There are instances where I can't use the tag feature, and I'm forced to either run the tweet as is or post it in real time. I've experienced a similar issue with LinkedIn, although they are actively addressing this concern.”

- Hootsuite Review, Sylvia S.

3. Meltwater 

Meltwater is a media intelligence software that blends PR and social media monitoring to give businesses a competitive advantage in their industry. Monitor and be part of social conversations on multiple channels, along with review sites, message boards, and forums to connect with your customers wherever they are.

What users like best: 

“The Engage tab, in particular, has become my favorite feature, allowing me to effortlessly publish content across multiple platforms. This not only saves me precious time but also alleviates the stress associated with managing various channels. And let's not forget about the AI assistant, which has become my secret weapon. It takes the pressure off crafting the perfect text by adapting it to any situation or style.”

- Meltwater Review, Karolina P.

What users dislike: 

“Social media monitoring is limited and I wouldn't rely on Meltwater alone to do in-depth social monitoring. There are some issues with how publications are categorized (blogs instead of news outlets, and UK for US publications) but this can be flagged to Meltwater for correction. There are occasional issues tracking niche sectors, some trade publications are not tracked and news behind paywalls can also be difficult to track if keywords are not in the title or opening paragraph.”

- Meltwater Review, Federico M.

4. Reputation 

Reputation measures and manages social media profiles for businesses looking to scale. With enhanced AI features, the software analyzes vast amounts of public and private feedback data to uncover predictive insights for companies to act on and improve their online reputations.

What users like best: 

“Our company manages over 3,000 profiles for online business listings across Google, Facebook, Healthgrades, and more. Reputation allows us to keep our information accurate and up to date for these profiles through their extensive database. Their platform allows us to manage and respond to multiple reviews per week from our business listings which is an integral part of improving our patient experience.”

- Reputation Review, Ava M.

What users dislike: 

“I wish that campaigns work. As of now, I have to schedule all of the campaign posts from my media and it's annoying it doesn't work. I also wish that you could see the times that the posts are scheduled for on the calendar.”

- Reputation Review, Alissa H.

5. SOCi

SOCi is a scalable, centralized platform that gives multi-location businesses tools to manage their localized marketing efforts effectively. With an intuitive dashboard and local page detectors, SOCi makes it easy to monitor reviews, run social ads, and update local business listings online.

What users like best: 

“I love Soci because it is user-friendly and offers multi-site posting with the touch of a button. It is easy to track postings, change material and see which sites get the most return. Whether you are a pro at marketing or just getting started, this program takes care of all the hassles for you and gives you more time for networking as opposed to spending hours creating posts for each site individually.”

- SOCi Review, Ginger S.

What users dislike: 

“Something about the design is clunky to me. I would like if using SoCi was a little more intuitive. I feel there is room for improvement in the design and layout, and understanding how to navigate SoCi. The appeal of automated marketing falters a little when you have to study a site to learn to use it.”

- SOCi Review, Brittany R.


Become a social media super sleuth 

Monitoring your social media channels is one of the best ways to stay ahead of the game and build a loyal, connected audience who could become your next customers. Is it spying, or is it strategic? That’s up to you to decide!

Gather deeper insights into what’s going on with your social channels using social media analytics tools to gather and report on your brand’s most important data.

Social Media Listening Tools Post, Like, Repeat!

Want to know what the world is saying about your business? With social media monitoring tools, you can find out.

Social Media Listening Tools Post, Like, Repeat!

Want to know what the world is saying about your business? With social media monitoring tools, you can find out.

What Is Social Media Monitoring? A Guide to Social Listening Keeping tabs on what people are saying about your brand online is essential to build a strong reputation. Learn more about using social media monitoring.
Holly Landis Holly Landis is a freelance writer for G2. She also specializes in being a digital marketing consultant, focusing in on-page SEO, copy, and content writing. She works with SMEs and creative businesses that want to be more intentional with their digital strategies and grow organically on channels they own. As a Brit now living in the USA, you'll usually find her drinking copious amounts of tea in her cherished Anne Boleyn mug while watching endless reruns of Parks and Rec.

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