Social Listening: The Low Hanging Fruit You Probably Haven’t Grabbed Yet

Regardless of vertical, size, or even ad strategy, there is one thing modern-day advertisers can all agree on: marketing today is more of a 2-way conversation than it’s ever been, and if brands are merely talking at consumers, they’re bound to fall by the wayside.

Because Realtime is a performance agency, Social Listening is an important part of the data collection process we undertake for our clients. But, we’d argue that regardless of your role – brand or agency – Listening is probably something you should be taking advantage of. And, if you can do it well, the benefits are virtually infinite.


Social Listening is the act of scanning the internet for any consumer mentions that may be relevant to your brand – either because they’re directly referencing your brand, a competitor, or your general niche. As you can imagine, this has the potential to be an immensely overwhelming task. Where do you draw the line of ‘what’s relevant’? How far back historically do you dig? And then – even more importantly – what do you even do with the information once you have it?

A lot of brands and agencies employ technology to automatically find and organize these mentions. In our case, we utilize our technology partner – Sprinklr – in order to auto-scan the internet for what we deem to be relevant and actionable for our clients. And, the data we’ve collected has delivered real, tangible benefits.

In one client campaign, we utilized Sprinklr’s Social Listening during a paid media activation to identify tangential interests that the brand’s customers had, and then used those interests as targets in our brand campaign. Not only did we discover a totally new audience that our client didn’t realize they had, but this new, untested audience came out of the gates swinging with over 20% stronger performance than all other audiences we targeted.

For another client who had a yearly goal of incorporating more branding around sustainability, we used Sprinklr’s Listening to monitor consumer sentiment before, during, and after our advertising efforts to gauge how effective our ads were in shifting public, organic perception of the brand. We observed a 4.5X lift – which is great and means the ads were doing their job – but more importantly, we wouldn’t have had this level of insight into organic, post-ad-impression chatter if not for Social Listening.

Many choose to partner with a technology or agency that has strong tech partners as it’s far more efficient when it comes to conquering the vast Listening landscape, but even for smaller brands, we’d argue any Listening you can do at all – even manual efforts – are in your best interest.


Because we work with a top Listening tech partner, we’re able to get incredibly specific with how we want to listen. But, even if you’re manually scanning, here are some things you should consider:

Goal: What purpose will Social Listening serve your brand? For instance, will you listen for positive and negative comments on your owned channels so that a community manager can respond accordingly? Or will you listen for consumer praise and criticism so that your product team can adapt to feedback. In our case, we know that a consumer’s relationship to your brand begins before they’re even aware the brand exists; they may be aware of competitors, in the market for a certain product, or had a positive/negative experience with similar products or services –  all things that will frame how they perceive your brand. And, the consumer journey doesn’t stop once they’ve made a purchase; they may continue to talk organically about your brand, judge you against your competitors, or even make a second purchase. Thus, for us, Social Listening is really about pulling back the curtain and filling in those gaps that we can’t see in the standard advertising funnel.

Channel: What channels will you prioritize in your Listening efforts? Are there certain channels that make more sense for your brand to be sensitive to feedback on? For instance, Twitter is often used as a vehicle for consumer complaints, so it’s important to not spend 100% of your Listening time there and then interpret the majority negative feedback as the majority of your consumers having negative feedback.

Sentiment: Perhaps more relevant if you’re using a Listening tool, sentiment analysis is an important filter through which you may want to include or exclude mentions you spend time on. With the large volume (often hundreds of thousands) of mentions that get pulled in with Social Listening tools, this will save you a large amount of time and get the relevant mentions to the teams that need them most.

Keywords, Hashtags, or Phrases: Similar to determining your end goal, physically creating a list of keywords and phrases you’re going to be looking for is a great way to keep focused on what it is you want from your Listening efforts. For instance, if your advertising team is using Listening to find potential new social targets that may be interested in purchasing a product, they’ll want to have a list of focus words such as competitor names, product names, sentiment language such as ‘good’, ‘bad’, etc. But, a tweet about the in-store employee being rude won’t be helpful for your advertising team – instead, language in those tweets may be part of the customer service or community manager’s list.


You’ll hear us say it a lot: at Realtime, we prioritize data because it alleviates us from guesswork, and where we do need to make guesses, those risks are calculated and backed by….you guessed it: data.

Regardless of your role or goals, utilizing Listening can hugely lift the weight of guesswork from your team and even drive new innovation that is based on the feedback coming straight from your consumers, themselves.

Agencies and tech providers can help your brand prioritize Listening efforts, sort mentions so they’re arriving at the correct teams, and even set processes in place so mentions are being actioned appropriately. With that said, if partnering up isn’t in the cards for your brand right now, we still highly recommend your team does whatever amount of Listening feels reasonable with your bandwidth.

We look forward to hearing your results! 

This article has been informed with knowledge from Realtime’s in-house Listening expert,  Janan Mustafa


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