So You’re Using Social Media, But are You Listening to it?

By Jake Willard

The world of social media sometimes feels like a content monster. It craves creative content and rewards those who can post unique or visually appealing photos, videos, audio, graphics, copy, memes, or any crazy combination of these pieces of multimedia. With such high demands for creative content, it is common for people to put all their effort into crafting their posts and neglect their content after they click post. While content creation is an important aspect of social media, it is what happens after you post that can make or break your social brand. You need to listen.

Listening to social media is beneficial not only to success, but can even provide great opportunities to create powerful content and boost engagement. And the best part is, everything you post will have something to tell you. Whether it is through the comments received, the number of likes or shares, or the number of followers gained, each post serves as a barometer to how your post is fairing amongst your audience. The beauty, or the curse, of social media is that people are encouraged to express their opinion of your content in many different ways. If you listen closely, you’ll be able to gauge how your content is fairing.

From a brand standpoint, listening on social media “is a two step process” according to Hootsuite, a social media management tool.

The first is to monitor. Has your brand been mentioned in posts? What are people saying about you? Is it positive or negative? Are your competitors being mentioned? What hashtags are your consumers using the most? Are you finding any users who stand out as influencers in your search? The possibilities are endless.

The second step is to take action where you see fit. If you see a positive comment, send a simple reply to let the person know you saw and appreciate it. We all know how stoked we can get when we get a reply from a brand on Twitter or Instagram. If you are noticing a trend amongst your consumers, whether positive or negative, take note. There might be some changes to consider making to help improve a product or campaign.

Many brands have already been successfully executing social listening strategies on their channels, and have reaped some benefits in the process.

One example came from a very unexpected place. The bathroom. In 2014, Twitter user Adam Greenwood was using the bathroom on a Virgin Train heading from Euston to Glasgow when he realized he was out of toilet paper. He tweeted out for help. Just two minutes later he received a reply Tweet from the Virgin Trains account and they were able to deliver him a fresh roll of tp. As unique as the interaction was, it went viral on Twitter, Reddit and several other platforms according to Element 7 Digital.

While this situation is not normal for most brands on social, it was Virgin Trains’ quickness to reply and their willingness to go the extra mile to help a customer that really made a difference. They were able to grow their social media identity and gain plenty of native social engagement. Overall this was a big social win for them thanks to social listening.

By taking these two steps, you can open the door to a dynamic range of content and campaign ideas. If executed properly, you can also help establish a strong brand identity and build up a loyal and engaging following. You’ll be set up for success in the long run.

Twitter/Instagram: @runjwill

This Article Has 2 Comments
  1. Bella Barilati says:

    Hi Jake,

    I enjoyed your post and all the information you provided! I had never heard of the Virgin Trains toilet paper example- what a great model of successful brand listening. A constant struggle I have faced at my internship has been balancing the creative content produced on our social channels as well as making sure we are building engagement with our audience. I appreciated your awareness of that we need to take a step back and listen. Something I want to improve on going forward in my professional development is monitoring the brand interactions and engagements across social platforms for my clients to make sure we are doing everything we can to listen.

    Thanks for the read!

    Twitter: @bellabarilati

  2. Robert Emmett says:


    I thought this was a great piece about the importance of listening to our social media posts. Along with creating great content, it’s imperative to listen to the audience’s feedback in order to identify how our social media is being received. I don’t think enough organizations listen to the conversations and engagement taking place with their social media, and it’s definitely something that needs to be outlined within the organization’s social media strategy.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *