How to Get Started with Your First Social Listening Campaign



From setting your goals to tracking the performance of specific keywords, here are the key tips you need in your social listening strategy.


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Social listening isn’t a manual job. To get the most out of social listening, you’ve got to choose the right tool.

Choosing a tool is all about balancing out your budget and the features you need (and what isn’t). The internet flourishes with the lists of “best social media monitoring tools”, so there won’t be a problem choosing the one most suitable for your brand.

Most tools (and all paid tools) will have a detailed step-by-step guide that teaches you how to do the monitoring. But as the whole process is quite simple, I’ll give you the gist right here.


Depending on your goals, you’ll have to choose the keywords you wish to monitor.

If your goals are customer care, brand reputation, or product research, you will have to monitor brand names and, optionally, product names.

Brand names include:

  • The name of your brand (e.g., Audi)
  • The social media profiles of the name (e.g., @AudiOfficial)
  • Any common abbreviations and misspellings of your brand

You might also want to search for your product category, but that depends on the category. For example, it makes sense to search for iPhone if you’re Apple, but makes no sense to search for “oranges” if you’re Whole Foods.

If your goal is competitor research, you should monitor your competitors’ brand names and possibly, their product names. The list of keywords is the same as it is for your brand.

If you’re interested in market research, you can monitor your industry (e.g., “product feedback tools, product feedback app, product assessment app”; “vegan cafes, vegan restaurants”, “vegan food”) as well as your brand name and your competitors’ brand names.

With regards to social selling, the task becomes more complicated. Your goal is to find not only conversations that include your industry, but also people looking for your product specifically. Or maybe even just the latter.

For that, you need a tool with the Boolean search option – a manual keyword search that allows for unlimited keyword flexibility – and a list of phrases that people use when searching for a product, such as “can anyone recommend”, “does anyone know”, “looking/searching for a”, etc. These word combinations together with the product description will get you the results you’re looking for. Another list of phrases that you can include will be about your competitors. Search for your competitors’ brands together with word combinations such as “alternative to”, “better than”, “disappointed with” and see what happens.

For influencer marketing, you’ll need a tool that finds influencers for you. Your keywords will be your brand name (to find brand advocates) and industry keywords (to find industry influencers). A few leading tools you should have on radar include Followerwonk, specifically dedicated to Twitter and influencers on the platform, Klear, a more broad option helping you find influencers across Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, and blogs, and BuzzSumo, which can help you double down on your efforts around finding influencers and content creation.

Finally, for link building, you’ll need a tool that has a Boolean search option and allows you to find unlinked mentions as well as search for blogs. Here, you’ll need to limit your search to blogs and forums (meaning, you’ll have to exclude social networks) and monitor your brand name and your industry keywords with the setting that excludes linked mentions.

Work with the results

Getting the results is just half the job. Once you have your mentions feed, your graphs, and your influencer lists, what do you do?

If your goal is customer care, you’ll end up looking through mentions one by one and replying to the ones that require a response. In most tools, you can filter them by sentiment and deal with the negative mentions first. You can also sort them by the number of the author’s followers and deal with the most influential authors first.

To simplify your work with mentions, you can assign them to different groups and sometimes to different team members.

Analytics is here to show you the big picture.

If we’re talking about your brand, first, you’ll inevitably see the level of its popularity online. You’ll see how that level changes in response to your efforts (e.g., campaigns, product launches) and in response to external stimuli (e.g., season). You’ll see how the buzz around your brand is different in various locations and languages (if applicable), and which social networks your audience prefers. This might be, and should be, reflected in your future marketing plans.

Then, you’ll move to the sentiment analysis and you’ll get a more detailed picture: not just that the buzz exists, but what kind of buzz. What’s the brand’s reputation, how it changes across different social media platforms and different news outlets, blogs, forums; how it changes in reaction to all the same things mentioned above.

Demographic and user behavior data will show you where the mentions are coming from: both in terms of geographical location and the web location.

Monitoring specific keywords will also show you topics that are used alongside your keywords. This way, you’ll know what your brand (product, personal name) is associated with online.

If you’re doing competitor research, you’ll also see a whole range of analysis going on there: your brand’s share of voice and how your brand compares to your competitors’ on all kinds of factors.

As talked about before, different tools contain different analytics features. The ones described above are the features that can be found in mid-tier tools and enterprise-level tools. It’s worth noting that the best enterprise tools will have an even bigger range of what you can do with the data.

Like any part of your marketing workflow, social listening is bound to be adjusted and changed according to your changing goals over time. However, at every point of your company’s growth, social listening is much needed, whether it’s about just finding your audience or making sure they stay loyal to your brand.

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