Your customers have a voice and more likely than not, they’re trying to communicate with you via social media. Handling all the individual messages across your social channels is a complex task that often requires help from social media monitoring tools.

And if your brand wants to improve customer relations and communication, you have to respond to the incoming messages. In fact, the Sprout Social Q1 2016 Index discovered the average brand response rate is less than 12% on Twitter. And that number drops to less than 9% on Facebook.

This is why you have to invest in social media monitoring. When implemented effectively, monitoring helps you boost your brand’s communication pipeline. Still not convinced? That’s OK because here are seven undeniable benefits of social media monitoring your business might be missing:

1. Better Understanding of Listening & Monitoring

Another way social media monitoring can benefit your business is by learning the difference between monitoring and social listening. Far too often, the terms social media monitoring and social media listening are considered one in the same.

While it’s easy to see why they’re mixed together, monitoring and listening are both unique methods to view, measure and analyze your audience. Here’s how we break down the difference between monitoring and listening:

  • Social media monitoring is moreso the process of collecting social messages into a single stream and to take a specific action in response to each message (via a like, comment or tasked message).
  • Social media listening queries large volumes of social messages from specific keywords or topics that then requires your brand to reflect and draw analysis from the these actions (via sentiment analysis or topic affinity).

Understanding the difference between social media monitoring and social media listening is critical to any social strategy. It’s also important to know one is not more important than the other.

While recording your social data brings valuable insights into how your audience interacts with your brand or your competitors, listening is key to analyzing what customers say when they talk about your brand. Listening is great for extracting insights from your brand mentions, while monitoring finds room for your brand to add to the discussion and engage.

The two might be apples and oranges, but you should apply both approaches to your social strategy to see success. Truly understanding the difference in these methods will ultimately help push your monitoring efforts in the right direction.

2. Become More Approachable to Your Customers

Providing excellent customer service is at the forefront of most brand’s initiatives. Being an approachable organization means you have to consider every avenue of communication. And this most certainly includes social media.

The Sprout Social Q2 2016 Index discovered 34.5% of consumers prefer to reach out to brands for customer care through social media. That beat out other channels like live chat (24.7%), email (19.4%) and 1-800 numbers (16.1%).

The problem is almost 90% of social messages to brands go ignored. By monitoring social messages, you’ll see opportunities to enter the conversation and provide your audience with answers. And if users @mention or tag you in a comment, you’ll have full exposure to any message needing a reply.

Social media monitoring tools allow brands to become more approachable by finding customer inquiries and interactions faster. Your brand receives incoming messages on social media all the time. But what about the messages that misspell your brand name or don’t tag you in Instagram comments?

For example, our Sprout Social Q1 2017 Index found 30% of millennials and 32% of Gen Xer’s interact with brands on a monthly basis. With so much communication toward your brand on social, it’s important to monitor, respond and engage with those reaching out.

Positive brand experiences can truly have an effect on customers in your sales funnel. It’s always best to think of building strong communication with your customers as a long-term relationship. And what’s the best way to open that line of communication? It starts with monitoring your social messages and providing the best customer experience.

3. Never Miss a Brand-Relevant Message

Like we mentioned above, one of the best benefits to social media monitoring is discovering more opportunities to engage with customers. For organizations on social, this means you need to focus on incoming brand-relevant messages, whether you’re directly mentioned or not.

These type of messages are customer experience gold. Directly answering a product question could mean the difference between a purchase and an abandoned cart.

For example, Vital Proteins commonly receives Instagram messages about the products mentioned in the post. The brand takes full advantage of these interactions by providing clear and concise feedback to help the customers.

And for a lot of brands, there are so many messages, it’s easy to miss important questions because they didn’t tag, @mention or use your hashtag. However, identifying your brand keywords in a social media monitoring platform, like Sprout Social, makes it simple.

You’ll never miss an incoming message, hashtag, mention or even common misspellings by monitoring brand keywords and hashtags. Not only does this help you put all your incoming brand messages in one place, you can also analyze hashtag performance and see how users interact with your brand materials on social.

By identifying relevant keywords on social, you open yourself up to new discussions, blog and social media post ideas and see what topics your audience truly engages with the most.

4. Stay Organized With Marketing Campaigns Tags

An essential benefit of social media monitoring tools is the ability to organize campaigns. When incoming messages related to an important campaign come in, you need to be able to respond or engage in a timely manner.

Start by setting up a brand keyword in Sprout that’s associated with a specific campaign.

With the brand keyword saved, you’ll be able to filter all incoming Tweets with that specific phrase. For brands that receive a large volume of incoming messages for customer support, people sharing your content and everything in between, the ability to filter conversations based on your brand keywords is a huge time saver.

Not only that, but it also guarantees that important messages don’t get overlooked.

Take a look at how Sprout uses message tagging to see how our own social team uncovers opportunities to add a new feature to our analytics tools.

Campaigns Help Brand Prioritize Customer Care

Social media is messy. It’s not easy sifting through the internet trolls and fake accounts to find great engagement opportunities in your campaigns.

It’s all about creating great customer experiences with social media. But for most organizations, social is more than just a single channel to promote. This is why you see so many use one Twitter account as the official network and another for support.

The popular project management tool Jira, from Atlassian, has a channel purely for FAQs, product updates and answering technical support questions. And with Sony’s Playstation account AskPlayStation, this works directly as a network for questions and technical issues.

This is why you have to make sure your campaigns align with the right channels. Directing specific questions to certain networks will take the pain out of your campaigns. And with Sprout, you can mark messages, comments and more with specific tags. For example, you could choose to separate holiday sales campaigns, technical support issues and sales inquiries. That way messages reach the right person in your team faster.

5. Interact With Your Top Brand Advocates & Key Customers

Now that you’re seeing the importance of monitoring your brand–what about your biggest fans? Brand advocates are essential to promoting your product and driving more engagement in smaller pockets of the market.

With the help of social media monitoring tools, you easily interact with influencers and brand advocates to truly move the engagement needle. On top of that, monitoring interactions and conversations from key customers can provide valuable instances of ways to include them in your marketing efforts.

Finding places to interact with key customers can make the difference between a small sale and a major win for your business. With monitoring tools, you can find and reply to those customers on the edge to make a purchase from you.

Locate those key customers and make sure your brand’s interactions provide further detail or an easy way to reach someone who can help at your organization.

Enabling Your Best Brand Advocates

Understand that brand advocates are those who are sold on your product and stay loyal to your brand. Sometimes these folks are the best champions for your brand because they’re in your industry, know the ins and outs of your product and provide great reasons to why they stay with you.

Brand advocates help further educate potential customers and sometimes work as a customer care ambassadors. On the other hand, it’s difficult to track their influence, industry pull and engagement (surrounding your brand) without a social media monitoring tool.

Word-of-mouth marketing has shown to influence 74% of buyers in their purchasing decisions. Enabling and interacting with your biggest advocates will only push your social presence with positive experiences.

Learn more about starting your own brand advocacy program here.

6. Understand What’s Working (and Not Working) For Competitors

Social media monitoring isn’t strictly limited to your brand. It also pays to understand what your competitors are doing and how they engage with their own fans.

Consider monitoring conversations that contain the names of your top competitors on social. For instance, T-Mobile might want to track conversations about Verizon. It could help them understand some of the pain points of Verizon customers. Then T-Mobile could use these Verizon customer issues in its own marketing messaging to speak more directly to the audience.

Here’s an example of a customer detailing a pain point with Verizon that would be very valuable for T-Mobile to speak to.

In addition to focusing in on potential opportunities like the ones above, T-Mobile could also take notes of all the things Verizon does well, such as their social customer service.

While you don’t want to copy your competitor’s complete strategy, you can use social media monitoring to gain valuable insights to help move your brand forward. Check out our social media competitive analysis guide for more information.

7. Win Back Lost Customers

As we mentioned earlier, quickly replying to customers can mean all the difference on social media. When an upset customers Tweets a complaint about your brand, you need to jump on it quickly to resolve the issue. Even if you can’t fix their current situation, you could restore your chances of doing business with them in the future.

Here’s an example of how a Hilton Hotel in Charlotte used social media monitoring to win back a customer and ensure future business.

After accused of price gauging in the wake of a hurricane, the hotel quickly replied to ensure the customer’s issue was resolved. The customer was so excited from the Hilton interaction that they tagged a local news outlet and public figure to spread the word.

Don’t let negative customer experiences go unnoticed on social media. While some bigger brands receive hundreds or thousands of messages a day, the right monitoring tool helps you dig through the noise and find the biggest issues to address.

Update: Instagram made changes to their Graph API in 2018, which may affect functionality mentioned above. Read here for more information