What’s the difference between social listening and social monitoring?

Despite being used pretty much interchangeably, social listening and social monitoring are not the same thing. We would offer the following definitions:

  • Social monitoring — a reactive social media practice that involves tracking mentions of your company or competitors, and direct interaction with said mentions through likes, shares, responses, or other forms of engagement;
  • Social listening — a proactive social media practice that involves collecting data on the topic of interest (e.g. an industry), running the data through extensive analytics suite, and finally gleaning various insights from that resultant data via pattern-seeking, correlating, and brainstorming.

In short, social listening is a bigger, more abstract practice aimed at gleaning high-level insights, while social monitoring is employed with a definitive goal of tracking and reacting to brand or competitor mentions.