Social listening may seem like a buzz word social media marketing people like to use. Let's dive deeper into why social listening matters for everyone from businesses to researchers. In this article, we will cover what social listening means and how you can use Twitter data for social listening.

Companies, governments and individuals alike use Twitter to learn how people feel about an issue, event, person, or hashtag. Collecting this data can help companies make business decisions, follow the trends in their industry, improve their products, and meet customer demands.

Journalists, researchers and governments on the other hand can collect data about public opinions regarding national and international topics, policies, news, and movements.

You’ll find answers to the below questions:

Step one: Choose and track the right keywords

Step two: Leverage your social listening data to understand public sentiment and predict future trends

Step three: Engage in online conversations to protect your reputationUse Cases of Social Listening in Different Sectors

What is Social Listening?

Social listening, or social media listening, is just what it sounds like; you track the content users share publicly on social media platforms related to brands, events, public figures, news, national or international issues, trends, and more. You can collect valuable insights and data from online conversations.

However, don’t confuse social listening with social media monitoring. You track keywords and phrases relevant to your business or brand when monitoring social media. Social listening looks at this data on a deeper level by uncovering the public’s sentiments regarding a search word, topic or person you’re interested in.

How to Start Social Listening on Twitter

If you’re investing time and effort in social listening on Twitter, the first thing we recommend would be to use a Twitter data extractor or social listening tool. (More on this below.)

These tools help you look at the data and categorise public sentiment often in 3 categories:

  • Positive
  • Neutral
  • Negative

Step one: Choose and track the right keywords

The first thing you should do is find the relevant keywords your customers or audience is using when they are searching for your brand, product/service, or topic. You can then track these keywords on a social listening tool such as Audiense.

If you are researching a brand, you may come across customer complaints, reviews, demands, recommendations, and questions by social listening on Twitter. All of this insight can help you improve your relationship with customers, provide new or better solutions, come up with new products, and even feed into your marketing or comms campaigns. You can also catch on to emerging trends in your sector.

If you are a researcher, academic, journalist, or government agent, you can monitor keywords, trending hashtags, or mentions to a specific account. For example, if you’re searching public opinion on Covid-19 vaccines, you can track keywords such as; COVID-19, vaccines, Covid-19 vaccine, Moderna, Pfizer, Sinovac, BioNTech, Johnson & Johnson, and others.

Step two: Leverage your social listening data to understand public sentiment and predict future trends

You’ve got your keywords, you’ve monitored the data, now what?

Analysing the social listening data can help you understand the public’s sentiment and to predict future trends. You can analyse what people think and how they are feeling about a certain topic, brand, product, or person by using social listening tools.

So what kind of metrics should you analyse? Here are a few examples:

  • When you see sudden peaks in mentions
  • When sentiment on a topic, product, brand, service or industry changes
  • Seasonal trends that are relevant to an individual, a brand, a company, or for research.
  • Differences between demographics
  • When there is a change in the words being used to describe a product/brand/issue/individual etc.
  • When location-specific data changes

Use Cases of Social Listening in Different Sectors

  • Brands can use social listening to establish a solid marketing & communications strategy, strengthen their online presence, protect their reputation, monitor their customers’ experience, and more.
  • Researchers can use it to gather data about their research topic (i.e. video games, Covid-19, Olympics), its effects on the general public, public sentiment, and more.
  • Journalists can use it to spot breaking news stories, gather data for an investigative article, or find necessary media or even interviewees.
  • Governments can use it to understand public sentiment about political candidates, new policies, when there are big changes such as #Brexit and more.

Step three: Engage in online conversations to protect your reputation

It’s vital to respond to negative and positive comments and be a part of the conversation to protect your reputation.

When someone mentions you, your company, your brand or your hashtag, acknowledging it can build loyalty on your customer’s or audience’s part. Your online reputation is now more important than ever. So your PR strategy on social media needs to be consistent and attentive.

Sometimes you may come across customer complaints or attacks on your online reputation. While you need to attend to your customer’s needs or negative comments, some attacks may be baseless. But when you genuinely make a mistake, the public backlash needs to be addressed. For example, when Adidas sent an insensitive email about the Boston Marathon, they apologised on Twitter.



Social listening tools will help you pick up on events relevant to your brand as well, so you can ride the wave of social media. For example, during the lockdown, takeaway food restaurants, streaming services, and many more brands closely followed online conversations to lighten up the public, offer support to frontline workers, and more.



You can also monitor the sentiment about your competitors and learn from their mistakes. Every once in a while poking fun at your competitors may even increase your reach and following.


By using social listening tools, you’re likely to find influencers who mention your brand, and you can increase your reach by engaging with them, or you can build new partnerships with other brands that mention you.


A screenshot from Audiense

Why Would Your Business Need to Use Social Listening?

We’ve listed many reasons why your business needs to use social listening, but the main reason is understanding their customers/audience through data and sentiment analysis. Unless your business is a social media platform, chances are it’s difficult to collect customer opinions or reviews. Surveys are always an option, but often customers avoid them and they can be time-consuming.

Public accounts on social media platforms are easily trackable and the data is accessible. The only tricky part is transforming this data into actionable insight, and thanks to social listening tools, you can.

In addition to learning what your customers think or feel about your brand and products, brands can use social listening to quality control new products. Furthermore, you can see how these conversations differ according to demographic factors such as age, gender, geographical location.

Here are some reasons Twitter listed on why your business needs social listening to understand online conversations:

  • 50% of consumers include brands in these milestone conversations to recommend them
  • 34% say they want to thank the brand
  • 34% do it because they’re looking for reciprocity from the brand in the way of a discount/incentive

Useful Social Listening Tools

twtData: You can download all the raw data you need to analyse yourself from this site and most of the data is free, like tweets. We will soon be launching a sentiment analysis and social listening tool. Please sign up for our newsletter to be informed of any updates.

TweetDeck: You can use TweetDeck for social listening, amongst other functionalities. You can view the latest tweets about a hashtag, keyword, or Twitter handle (including your own handle). You can filter the results by date, likes, retweets, mentions, and more.

Sprout Social: A paid tool, Sprout Social’s social listening package comes to 149$ per user/month annually. Sprout Social’s analytics let you analyse conversations and understand your audience’s preferences and sentiment around relevant industry topics. Mention is a paid social media management and analytics tool with powerful social listening features. Mention helps you find and post relevant content on your social media channels from one platform. It not only monitors social media, but also other media channels such as radio, news and blogs. Mention’s free plan lets you track up to 1000 mentions.

Audiense: At 696$ per month, the priciest on the list is Audiense. It’s a paid tool that lets you understand your audience as well as your industry better. “Audiense Insights applies machine learning to instantly understand who makes up your target audience, by analyzing connections between the people that shape it.”

TweetReach: For 49$ a month, TweetReach is a great value tool to analyze your brand’s reach on Twitter. You can select a keyword, a Twitter handle, or hashtag to analyze. It also analyzes impressions, mentions, and the times when the most relevant Tweets to your business are shared.