6 Ways for Small Businesses to Get the Most out of Social Listening

6 Ways for Small Businesses to Get the Most out of Social Listening

Shhh! Keep quiet and listen.

Your potential and existing customers are discussing something on social media. They are grumbling so loudly. Did you hear that?! It seems that your brand’s name popped up in their conversation. Meanwhile, your competitors are shouting out some messages to their audiences and trying to outperform you… But it’s so noisy out there! Can you distinguish every word or feeling?

This article is a must-read if you don’t know how to cope with all that social media buzz and hear everything clearly. We’ve compiled all the methods (and tools!) to help you use social listening for your small business growth.

In fact, 61% of businesses claim social media listening is a critical element in their marketing strategies. You can make this number soar by contributing to it and growing your brand through real-time social listening. We’ll show you how. Stay with us! Cover photo by Nathan Dumlao.

What Is Social Media Listening?

Social listening, aka social monitoring, involves discovering what’s happening inside social media networks: Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Tumblr, and others.

It’s like eavesdropping but with permission and without guilt. You can monitor literally anything:

  • Mentions
  • Hashtags
  • Keywords
  • Sentiment (negative, positive, or neutral)
  • Trends, etc.

As a result, you obtain valuable insights to tweak your social media strategy and pump it up with adequate promotional campaigns.

For example, you may be just in time to pitch your product or service to the social media user in need. Buffer made a delicate move at this point. While listening on social media, the Buffer team noticed a tweet from Austen Allred (@Austen) inquiring about a platform or plugin to manage his Twitter content. They saw a chance and grabbed it to suggest Buffer as a tool.

social listening and scheduling tools, buffer

Source: Twitter


Social media listening with your bare hands would be simply a time-waster. Just imagine how many posts you’d have to scroll through!

That’s when you need some equipment. White Down Pointing Backhand Index Emoji (Apple/iOS Version)

List of Social Media Listening Tools for Small Businesses

You need a highly sensitive device to “eavesdrop” on social media conversations and happenings.

So, gear up for social listening with one or several tools:

  1. Keyhole
  2. Meltwater
  4. GummySearch (for Reddit only)
  5. Synthesio
  6. YouScan
  7. Mentionlytics

Pierce Hogan, Owner of Varied Lands mentions: “No matter which tool you opt for, it will be useless if activated randomly and without a purpose. You need to set clear objectives and outline methods to utilize them strategically. Keep delving deeper into the article.”

6 Tactics to Use Social Listening for a Small Business

Let’s discuss the most gainful approaches to social monitoring for small businesses below.

Capture the customer’s voice

When engaged in social listening as a small business, the voice of customers is the #1 voice you need to discern from the abundance of other sounds. This will help you totally understand your target audience and build proactive customer service. Treat customers’ voices as beacons that guide your brand through rough business waters.

Yet, hearing is not enough. Your customers might feel as if they were talking to a wall. At this rate, you must interact with them to maintain a two-way conversation.

Roman Zrazhevskiy, Founder & CEO of MIRA Safety, also emphasizes the importance of tracking negative sentiment and comments that may serve as red flags:

“Don’t make this terrible mistake most SMB owners are prone to—never disregard negative feedback on social media. It’s always better to address customer concerns and negative comments first to avert PR crises and reputational damage.”

That is what MIRA Safety did on Instagram. The company saw a comment from a potential customer struggling to order protective equipment and replied immediately.

capture the customer's voice

Source: Instagram

Note: 83% of people anticipate businesses to reply to their social media comments within 24 hours, and 38% expect a response in one hour or less.

Start trendjacking before everyone else

What’s that, and how can social media monitoring help you with it?

Trendjacking implies generating content in response to trendy topics or phenomena.

“Trends pulled out by your social listening efforts can increase the emotional degree in your social media posts or even make your small business go viral,” explains Tim White, Founder of milepro.

Leveraging TikTok trends, in particular, is a top priority for 53% of SMBs. Suppose you also want to jump on trending content and make it resonate with your target audience. In that case, Tim White suggests monitoring social media trends as follows:

  • Memes
  • Challenges
  • Songs or audio clips
  • Dances
  • Movies or TV shows
  • Games
  • Festivals, sports competitions, or other events

For example:

In 2016, Monster and many other brands (Arby’s, Cinnabon, DurhamBulls, and others) trendjacked the Pokémon Go craze with the hashtag #PokemonGO to drive Twitter engagement.

social trends and trendjacking

Source: Twitter

Here’s a fresher memory. In 2022, AliExpress was caught trendjacking the Wednesday TV series via Facebook advertising.

social trendjacking

Source: Facebook Ad

Keep an ear on other brands

Monitor your competitors

If you’re looking for the best “spying” trick for competitor analysis in small business, this is it.

“With social listening tools, you can effectively track your competitors’ brand mentions, keywords, hashtags, and marketing strategies scattered via different social platforms,” says Brooke Webber, Head of Marketing at Ninja Patches. She shares her team’s experience: “Lately, we’ve sharpened our ears on competitor content with the #custompatches hashtag.”

listening on social media, tracking hashtags

Source: Instagram

Besides, while using social listening for competitor research, the Ninja Patches team spotted their main competitors repurposing their TikTok content to Instagram. Brooke Webber thinks it may be one of the most productive social media tactics to learn from competitors. It saves time on content creation and brings noticeable results to small businesses.

Monitor other successful companies

Roses are red.

Raindrops are falling.

Springtime is here.

Iced coffee is calling.

starbucks social media strategy

Source: Twitter

Unmask overlooked or little-known social media strategies, just like this example of hypnotic marketing with a rhyme incorporated into the Starbucks social media strategy.

How about writing a fun poem to improve your social media posts with emotion, similar to Starbucks?

Btw, Microsoft Teams instantly copycatted the strategy after noticing this piece of poetry from Starbucks.

starbucks social media strategy and methods

Source: Twitter

Find new talent for your team

Have you ever thought of social networks as places to find and hire workers?

Bert Hofhuis, Founder of Every Investor says: “Social monitoring has made it a doddle whether you aim to hire freelancers or contract staff for your small business. It lets you identify active job seekers, source the best talent from niche communities relevant to your industry, and engage with potential employees authentically by liking, reposting, or commenting.”

You can easily hear what your potential candidates say on LinkedIn or recruit Gen Z on TikTok while monitoring their comments and behavior and interacting with them.

However, even though social media listening opens a never-ending field of new hires, there are pitfalls to avoid and tips to guarantee successful talent acquisition via social channels.

Here’s a cautionary call from Ian Sells, CEO of Million Dollar Sellers. He says, “When using social listening to find new team members for your small business, the odds are high you may encounter a bad hire because social profiles often don’t coincide with people’s true identities. That is why you must have a decent candidate screening process with clear criteria and background checks to filter the unsuitable candidates.”

Discover and scan influencers

Interested in influencer marketing?

You can pinpoint the right influencers for your small business by analyzing the following aspects during social media monitoring:

  • Niche
  • Follower count
  • Values and ethics
  • Reach
  • Engagement levels
  • Top-performing content

Phil Strazzulla, Founder of SelectSoftware Reviews, advises SMBs to prioritize nano-influencers (1K–10K followers) and micro-influencers (10K–100K followers) on social media. He says, “Smaller content creators typically set lower rates (if it’s a paid partnership) but have a more engaged and loyal follower base.”

Phil Strazzulla says, “Today’s social networks face a pandemic of fake influencers, which impose a huge problem on brands if left unconsidered. They buy fake followers or artificially inflate their engagement rates so their content doesn’t reach real people.”

Strikingly, brands lose $1.3 billion yearly on influencer campaigns due to such fraudulent activities.

Pro tip: Arm yourself with fake influencer checkers from Modash.io, GRIN, or vHub.ai, and watch out against such scammers.

Track the outcomes of your marketing campaigns

Naturally, you plan to generate results from social media marketing campaigns. You must somehow keep tabs on them. Again, social listening steps in to help you in every possible way to analyze and understand your results.

Sturgeon Christie, CEO of Second Skin Audio, finds the process easy when you have all the necessary tools (and you do have them listed above!):

“What I really like about social monitoring tools is that they help you map out data and pinpoint the strengths and weaknesses in your marketing campaigns.

Yet, before using them, you must outline your goals and essential metrics or KPIs, such as hashtag performance or user engagement (likes, shares, comments, mentions, etc.). It can be whatever you prefer—you’re running the show.”

For example:

Second Skin Audio launched the Team Second Skin affiliate program. To supervise it with social listening, the team monitors the #TeamSecondSkin hashtag and user engagement levels associated with it on YouTube.

youtube hashtags and social listening

Source: YouTube

What should you do after the whole result-tracking thing?

“Once you receive data-driven insights from social media listening, it’s high time to make real-time adjustments to your content strategy to maximize your campaign’s ROI,” encourages Sturgeon Christie.

Tune In to Social Media and Be All Ears!

Get started with social monitoring now, catch every detail, and see how you can adjust your social media marketing strategies to grow your business into a mighty and reputable brand.

You might have already tried to leverage social listening for your small business. If you have, what an experience to share! We’re dying to know! If you haven’t, how do you intend to use it in the future? Don’t hide your plans under wraps. Winking Face Emoji (Apple/iOS Version)

Read next: The Price of Expertise: Exploring Freelance Social Media Manager Rates in 2023

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