16 Social Listening Strategies to Incorporate Into Your Business Strategy [+2 tools!]

With 3.03 billion active social media users around the world, you can use social listening to tune in and monitor what your customers are saying about your business across a variety of platforms. 

This allows you to listen to your customer base, learn more about them and interact with them. 

You can also identify possible new customers, and learn more about your industry or competitors. 

Social listening needs to be actionable. To use it to your advantage, you need to make the most out of conversations that happen about your brand and industry. 

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16 Social Listening Strategies:
1. Develop Leads by Pinpointing Prospects
2. Develop Leads through Dissatisfied Competitor Customers
3. Learn Your Audience’s Language
4. Identify Influencers
5. Find Feedback
6. Start Conversations with Users Who Don’t Tag You
7. Keep Tabs on Industry News and Developing Trends
8. Track and Measure the Results of Social Campaigns
9. Discover New Audience Spaces
10. Answer Indirect Questions
11. Monitor Competitor Content
12. Create Customer and Prospect Personas
13. Research and Develop
14. Detect and Mitigate Issues Before they Escalate
15. Send Bottom-of-the-Funnel Customers to Gated Free Trials, Product Pages, or Waiting Lists
16. Refer Top-of-the-Funnel Customers to Ungated Content

2 Social Listening Tools to Grow Your Business

Here are 16 social listening strategies you can incorporate to grow your business and 2 tools to execute your strategy:

1. Develop Leads by Pinpointing Prospects

By tracking a range of terms, you can reveal users in your target market who may not know about your business.

To locate potential customers, track keywords and hashtags related to your niche that reflect:

  • Trade publications
  • Common practices
  • Issues in your sector
  • Leading figures and products

It can take between seconds and days to find posts containing your terms, depending on the social scale of your business and industry. Regardless, consider users who post with those terms as prospects.

The next step involves putting your social media sales hat on. Join the conversation by replying to them.

For example, give your opinion about a trend or send the prospect to a relevant page on your website.

This can earn you a fan and generate interest in your brand. The user may engage with you in the future or explore your website and eventually convert.

2. Develop Leads through Dissatisfied Competitor Customers

With similar tactics, you can find users eager to try new products and services.

Instagram Unhappy - 15 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Social Listening and a List of 3 Tools

Track your competitors’ usernames, brand hashtags and product names to locate prospects who may be tired of their services.

Along with these terms, monitor negative keywords such as:

  • Not
  • Can’t
  • Won’t
  • Doesn’t

Depending on your social media monitoring tool, this can be done by typing the following into the search function:

“competitor name” AND “negative keyword”

As you identify unhappy customers, ask them what they’re looking for in an ideal product. If you can meet their needs, link them to a demo, discount or free trial.

But remember, they’re upset. Use gentle language and don’t force a reply from them.

3. Learn Your Audience’s Language

Effectively marketing a product through content such as ads and landing pages involves speaking the audience’s language.

This is largely because it shows you understand their common train of thought. As a result, you can better communicate with them.

As you study posts that use your tracked keywords, you may notice that members of your market:

  • Phrase concepts in a specific way
  • Use common secondary keywords
  • Write simple, complex or somewhere-in-between sentences

Without compromising clarity, implement the findings in your content.

Unconvinced it’ll make a difference? Run a landing page A/B test using your writing style versus an adjusted style that uses your audience’s diction.

Go forward based on the winning conversion rate.

READ: The Marketer’s Guide to Writing Click-Worthy Headlines

4. Identify Influencers

As brands turn to popular online personalities to post about their products, social listening is becoming a viable way to identify influencers.

Typical Influencers - 15 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Social Listening + 3 Tools List

To find social media thought leaders in your niche, track the URLs and titles of:

  • Popular blog posts
  • Authoritative case studies
  • Content from industry-leading blogs and publications

You then need to determine who’s earning the highest engagement rate when sharing this material.

Use this simple formula to calculate engagement rate:

Add the number of likes and comments, and divide by the number of followers. Multiply by 100 to get the engagement rate percentage.

After you identify influencers, reach out to them by pitching your campaign idea. Explain how they’ll benefit and then ask for their participation.

5. Find Feedback

Tracking your brand and product names can uncover customer feedback across niche and popular social platforms.

Combined with positive and negative terms, such as “does” and “doesn’t,” you can locate reviews, complaints and endorsements.

As customers post positive comments, ask to use them as testimonials on your website, and make an effort to repost or retweet positive feedback.

This is a great strategy because it reminds your followers of the awesomeness of what you’re selling, and will likely interest new leads who happen to hear others raving about you.

Money saving app Piggybank does a great job at this. They repost the positive reviews they get from Twitter right on their Instagram page.

Image of Sam Hart tweeting about 'Saving Violently' using Piggybank

Since consumers resonate more easily with reviews from fellow consumers than from ads sent out by brands, Piggybank’s happy customers see fit to testify to the customer review Piggybank posted…

Image of Sam Hart tweeting about 'Saving Violently' using Piggybank

And there are also bottom-of-the-funnel customers asking how to get started; here’s one:

Image of Piggybank linking signup

On the flip side, you can also find negative feedback or comments through social listening.

But what you do after getting bad reviews is what matters the most.

It can be overwhelming to take note of every single piece of negative feedback, but the trick is to find the public embarrassments your company can do something about and handle the situation with finesse and style that impresses onlookers.

For example, JetBlue got a tweet from a customer who was complaining about being on a flight that had a bad headphone jack and a malfunctioning TV.

Image of cutomer tweeting to JetBlue

JetBlue responded with what clearly looks like more than just an apology; they offered to compensate the customer with a $15 credit for the inconvenience (once she can confirm she’s the actual customer who had the experience).

6. Start Conversations with Users Who Don’t Tag You

If you only pay attention to your direct mentions on platforms such as Twitter and Instagram, you can miss chances to connect with prospects and nurture leads.

As well as not tagging you, it’s common for users to:

  • Misspell your name when trying to tag you
  • Talk about your products or services without mentioning your business
  • Misspell those products and services, too

The solution is to monitor the names of your business, products and services, along with their common incorrect spellings.

Barraco Barner - 15 Ways Social Listening can Grow Your Business + 3 Tools List
People can even incorrectly spell the U.S. president’s name.

For the latter, type the names into your phone. Note any autocorrects and create social listening trackers with your tool of choice. You can also think up misspellings on your own.

7. Keep Tabs on Industry News and Developing Trends

Monitoring the social web for news and trends can provide topics to post and blog about, keeping your content marketing strategy fresh.

To stay on top of what’s relevant, track keywords and usernames for big players and authoritative publications in your sector.

A tool like Keyhole can help you track other accounts, hashtags, or keywords.

News Stages - 15 Ways to Grow Your Business through Social Listening a List of 3 Media Monitoring Tools
These tweets use #Breaking, #Trending and #Developing.

Along with these keywords, monitor standard news terms such as:

  • Breaking
  • Developing
  • Trending

Depending on your social listening software, you can do this by typing a news term and publication name into the search function:

“breaking” AND “Wall Street Journal”

As you collect data about news and trends, your business can demonstrate expertise by creating and promoting articles that explain a story’s background issues.

READ: How to Build, Run and Grow a Successful Company Blog [Douglas Karr Interview]

8. Track and Measure the Results of Social Campaigns

This may seem like a moot point to some, but many marketers don’t track social media campaigns run by rivals, role models or even their own brands.

Since many social listening tools have analytics suites, you can collect data surrounding hashtag campaigns on Twitter, Instagram and other platforms.

Beyond tracking performance, this data is useful for:

  • Setting goals for future campaigns
  • Analyzing which demographics within your target audience were most active, tailoring upcoming ads and content toward them

9. Discover New Audience Spaces

A multi-channel social listening strategy can reveal audience activity on platforms you didn’t know about.

You may uncover conversations surrounding trends, competitors and even your business by searching through different forums, communities and social sites.

For example, people thinking about cosmetic surgery may not take to Twitter to express their concerns. Instead, niche forums are more common:

Cosmetic Surgery - 15 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Social Listening and a List of 3 Media Monitoring Tools

As you discover platforms that audience members frequent, read their posts to gain more insights about their needs, desires and pain-points.

READ: 10 Mistakes that Keep Your Key Social Metrics from Growing

10. Answer Indirect Questions

Answering questions isn’t always a way to overtly promote your business. Rather, it introduces you to prospects and helps build rapport.

You’ll inevitably stumble upon queries as you track brand and industry keywords.

For example, if you make task managers, you’ll likely find questions about prioritization and project management. You can respond by giving an answer or link to a relevant blog post.

Task Manager - 15 Ways to Grow Your Business with Social Media Monitoring and 3 Tools List

It’s less common for people to ask for task manager recommendations. But when that time comes, feel free to make the case for your product.

11. Monitor Competitor Content

Monitoring how a competitor’s content performs on social media can help you develop blog ideas and tactics.

Since you likely share an audience with opposing businesses, content that works well for them can work well for you.

Start by tracking a content piece’s URL and title. Depending on your tool, this should generate engagement data – how many times it’s been shared and by whom. You may also see opinions and conversations about the piece.

Use these insights by:

  • Seeing which issues and pain points resonate with your audience
  • Modeling posts, studies and infographics off popular content
  • Reaching out to users when sharing your similar material you’ve made

Keyhole allows you to monitor competitor content such as their accounts and hashtags.

12. Create Customer and Prospect Personas

Analyzing the profiles of users who post with your monitored terms is a way to build buyer personas – representations of customer groups to help you understand your target markets.

First, make a spreadsheet and fill it with the profile URLs of people who use your brand-specific keywords and hashtags. Second, once you’re comfortable with the size your list, look at each profile for information about:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Position
  • Industry
  • Business size and scope
Buyer Persona - 15 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Social Listening and a List of 3 Tools

Third, sort the profiles into groups based on this data. You may be surprised to learn which kinds of people make up your social audience.

Understanding who you’re communicating with should boost clicks and engagements as you craft messages and campaigns.

13. Research and Develop

You can think up ideas worth investigating by sifting through social listening reports, such as:

  • Creating new services or products
  • Launching events or campaigns your audience would likely enjoy
  • Altering brand positioning based on what consumers say about your and the competition

Depending on your organization’s structure, putting these ideas into action could involve collaborating with a different department or the team member beside you.

Regardless, uncovering them starts by tracking broad industry terms.

For example, if you’re a marketer for an analytics brand, you might monitor “metrics” and “social data.” You’ll eventually see someone express a need or desire. Reach out if you can already solve their pain point.

If not, consider taking the necessary steps to do so.

14. Detect and Mitigate Issues Before they Escalate

DKNY Crisis - 15 Ways to Grow Your Business Through Social Media Monitoring and List of 3 Tools
With its social listening strategy, DKNY reacted to this Facebook crisis within four hours.

Monitoring brand and industry keywords can inform you when concerns and problems develop, helping you quickly react.

Let’s say you’re in the software business. One day, you notice someone tweeting about a significant error.

You would immediately try to replicate that error, and:

  • If you can replicate it, try to fix it. Then, reach out to the user to explain it’s on the mend.
  • If you can’t replicate it, show your concern. Tweet with the user and ask for more information.

What’s the value of a speedy reaction?

Consumers expect you to swiftly address problems in the age of social media. To see why, read about Domino’s Pizza employees filming themselves ruining ingredients.

A slow, or non-existent, reaction can push customers away and damage your reputation.

15. Send Bottom-of-the-Funnel Customers to Gated Free Trials, Product Pages, or Waiting Lists

Bottom-of-the-funnel consumers are also always lurking around conversations about your industry, brand, or specific product.

These people have heard about your brand before.

And they’re ready to buy. They just need a few questions answered.

So they ask questions like “Is there a version that will include xyz feature coming soon?” OR “Can your product do this specific thing?” If you’re keeping tabs on conversations in your industry, you’ll be able to pull these prospects into the fold.

In 2017, Audi had a tweet where a prospective buyer (Godwin) asked if they had any new upgrades on a couple of their cars.

Audi responded saying the feature is coming in 2018, and sent the buyer a link where he could sign up with them to get updated once it’s out.

Image of Audi's tweet to the buyer

Once the buyer clicks the link, Audi sends him to a well-designed landing page where he’s being welcomed as a lead. The car brand gets his info and gets the chance to alert him once his desired feature is out in the market.

This means while Audi is responding to Godwin with a signup form to fill, there are probably other potential buyers around who have the same question Godwin asked and would sign up to get updates from Audi as well — via the same page Audi sent to Godwin.

This way, Audi is using social listening as a tactic to generate more leads for their new car upgrade coming in 2018.

It’s a powerful social listening strategy to monitor these industry interactions and earn the opportunity to convert bottom-of-the-funnel prospects into actual paying buyers.

And if, like Audi, you don’t already have the feature or exact product a potential buyer is asking for, have a well-designed page ready to convert the person into a lead — so you have the opportunity to draw them back to your business when it’s time.

16. Refer Top-of-the-Funnel Customers to Ungated Content

Top-of-the-funnel customers are also lurking around.

There’s always someone hearing about your brand or product for the first time, or seeing conversations about your brand or industry.

Unlike those on the bottom-of-the funnel, these people aren’t ready to buy anything.

They only want to learn more about the matter being discussed — your product, brand or industry.

You can refer these customers to a piece of content, a handy tool, or any value that answers their questions and get them ready to buy.

Audi, in the example above, sent ready-to-buy prospects right from social interactions to a gated page; should you do the same for top-of-the-funnel customers? Not quite.

Picture this for a moment: you go to Twitter and find a promoted tweet that interests you. The tweet is from a brand you’ve never seen or heard of before, promoting a product you don’t entirely understand.

So you’re curious. You want to learn more about about what’s being promoted. You reply the tweet asking “How do I get started?”

To which the brand replies, “Go to [this url] to learn how to get started.”

Would you click or not? You probably would. After all, you’re the one looking for answers.

But upon arrival on the page, you find a form asking for your personal information.

Would you give your information just to learn more about a product? You probably won’t. Especially when you’re just trying to see how to get started with a product.

If you were ready to get started, that’s a different case, you’d sign up. But gating a page that’ll teach you how to get started? Not ideal.

So it’s best to make your tool, content or any other value ungated for people who just want to “learn more”.

2 Social Listening Tools to Grow Your Business

A great social monitoring tool will analyze the most engaging posts about your brand, alert you when influencers talk about you or identify possible influencers, as well as indicate when a keyword or topic you’re tracking is being buzzed about on social platforms.

Here are 2 social listening tools that do all of the above.

1. Keyhole

Keyhole monitors real-time and historical data around URLs, hashtags, keywords and usernames on Twitter and Instagram.

A screenshot of Keyhole's social listening tracker.

By inputting up to five terms in this social listening tool’s search function, it will generate and track metrics such as:

  • The number of posts and people using your terms
  • User demographic information, including gender and location
  • Top posts, based on engagement data such as shares and replies
  • Influence data, such as which users are drawing the most attention to your tracked terms

In a shareable and printable dashboard, it displays this data in tables, timelines, pie charts and bar graphs.

Price: Starts at $179 USD; advanced plans vary

READ: Forbes Uses Keyhole to Track and Rank SXSW Hashtags

2. Talkwalker

Talkwalker tracks real-time and historical data surrounding keywords, taking data from almost all major social platforms. It also monitors blogs, forums and online news websites for keyword mentions.

For Twitter and Facebook, it provides analytics such as:

  • Engagement rate
  • Activity levels, including the times when users post with a given keyword
  • Share of voice, which is a calculation of how much a user or brand is contributing to online conversations about your keyword

You can use Talkwalker as a traditional media monitoring tool, too. It tracks keywords on global TV, radio and newswires.

Price: Starts at $800 USD per month; advanced plans vary


Whether people are having conversations directly about your brand, your industry, or your competitors, there’s a constant information exchange at high volumes.  

Social listening can contribute greatly to your business’s growth in a variety of different ways. 

You need to keep listening and monitoring to inform your social media and business strategies.

Keyhole is a real-time conversation tracker that provides keyword and hashtag analytics for Twitter and Instagram. Get started for free.

Life is short and the internet is vast.