In the fast-paced world of social media, waiting for users to @mention your brand before you join the conversation means you’re missing opportunities every day.

Customers are referring to your brand in a number of ways that don’t include your official handle: variations on your name, specific products and hashtags. Keeping up with all of those variances across hundreds (if not thousands) of conversations on multiple social channels is time-consuming. And yet, it’s critical to truly tap into the power of social media. If you find yourself spending more running complex manual searches for brand mentions than interacting with them, then you’re in need of a social media monitoring strategy.

Social monitoring is an essential part of any social customer service strategy. It can lead to faster response times, PR crisis prevention and identifying brand advocates. Responding to customers has been shown to lead to stronger brand loyalty among customers. A successful social media monitoring strategy will help you streamline all of your brand’s mentions and search parameters in one place so your focus is on responding to important messages and developing a strategy based on your insights.

What is social media monitoring?

Social media monitoring is the process of gathering useful social conversations and messages to keep track of your customers’ likes, dislikes, wants and changing needs. Social monitoring also includes responding to relevant conversations about your brand. It’s an immediately reactive strategy and pertains to all kinds of talk about your brand: reviews, product questions and service complaints.

Card defining social media monitoring. It says Social media monitoring is the process of gathering useful social conversations and messages to keep track of your customers’ likes, dislikes, wants and changing needs.

Social media monitoring and social listening are not the same. They’re distinct practices with different benefits, though they often pair up in an overall strategy. Social media monitoring tells you the what, while social listening gives you the why.

With monitoring, you often respond directly to customers, solve issues and participate in conversations specific to your brand. Social listening, on the other hand, involves the big-picture view of your industry and brand at large, including your audience’s tangential interests. Social monitoring specifically offers you the chance to be an active participant in or observer of conversations.

Social media monitoring isn’t just about direct mentions or comments on your posts. It includes posts that mention your brand without tagging you. These kinds of posts don’t come up in your regular network notifications, which is why it’s important to set up your social monitoring tools.


A diagram comparing social monitoring and social listening. Social monitoring is shown as a series of steps from gathering data to analyzing and extracting insights. Social listening is shown as a series of steps from gathering insights to driving proactive decisions.


Benefits of social media monitoring

Social media monitoring helps you discover relevant brand conversations and insights you wouldn’t otherwise. With the right tools, you can get these insights in real time to manage crises, find new influencers and brand loyalists, and know your customer better, to ultimately increase your conversion and improve your business.

Here are some specific benefits of social media monitoring (and a few examples in action), including how it can positively impact your business, customers and your overall strategy.

Boost brand awareness

When you’re always aware of the things your customers are saying, you can respond to their needs immediately. This also increases awareness of your brand to potential customers. When they see you responding to actual comments or concerns of the people they follow, you’re likely to have a higher brand recall.

A brand interacting with posts, especially those that don’t directly mention the brand, sticks in consumers’ minds more than one just pushing out ads. Our most recent Sprout Social Index report found that 51% of consumers say the most memorable brands on social media respond to customers. In the below example, fast food chain Wendy’s acknowledged a compliment for a team member at a particular store.

a Twitter/X interaction between a customer and Wendy’s where the customer complimented a team member at a local restaurant.

Understand audience sentiment

You won’t have to worry about losing track of trends in customer sentiment or experience. Social monitoring makes sure you always know what your audience thinks and feels. Sentiment can change quickly and be affected by‌ small moments. That’s why monitoring conversations on social media can give you a heads up if the winds are changing.

Based on context in a particular conversation, you can also glean insight into why sentiment about your brand is the way it is. Though surveys can be useful, social monitoring gives you a timely in-depth framework for what is driving customer sentiment.

Maximize social media campaign insights

Social campaigns require a lot of creative thinking and tactical work to be successful, and you want to show their impact as clearly as possible. Social monitoring strengthens your campaign reporting and gives you additional information you won’t get from analytics alone. Customers will post reactions to campaigns and candidly share their thoughts, which can add qualitative context to your collected insights.

In this example, a travel influencer shared a video tour of a luxurious Airbnb location they stayed at in Joshua Tree, California, calling it a “hidden gem.” The post shows the benefits of booking this Airbnb-hosted rental, and gives the company a chance to see how a sizable influencer references Airbnb without sponsorship.

The post tags the company that owns the rental, but does not tag Airbnb’s official account. So, you’d need to collect this information through social media monitoring.

A TikTok video on a hidden gem Airbnb location in Joshua Tree.

Address social media crises quickly

For most brands, dealing with a negative situation is an unfortunate inevitability. Whether a customer issue, a brand mistake or cybersecurity breach, you’ll likely need to tap into your crisis management skills at some point.

Your social media strategy needs to be properly set up at the start to successfully weather a crisis. Social monitoring is a key player here; being able to see conversations about the issue in real time will help you answer individual posts and overall public statements. Social monitoring also helps uncover the early warning signs of a problem for you before it becomes critical.

Find new influencers to partner with

Some of the best brand advocates may be macro and micro influencers you just haven’t come across yet. Maybe they’re just outside your space or new to the field. Social monitoring can help you find the right influencers and reach out about potential partnerships. They may have mentioned your brand without tagging, or one of your products.

In the below post, SRAM Road was tagged in the caption, and the whole post is a positive review from a biking micro-influencer. If they didn’t know of this influencer before, they do now and can keep them in mind for future marketing campaigns. Plus, the post has great photography the brand may be able to reshare with permission.

A photo of a bike against an orange background, spotlighting the poster’s new Sram Road brand shifter and brakes.

Best practices for social media monitoring

An effective social media monitoring strategy starts with planning. What is missing from your overall marketing strategy that social monitoring might be able to solve? If you have a social listening strategy already in place, incorporate that into your monitoring approach. You’ll need to set clear goals upfront to get the most benefit, which includes selecting relevant metrics to track. Choosing keywords and platforms important to your brand is another initial step.

Here’s a look at how to get started and lay a strong foundation for your monitoring program.

Set clear goals and objectives

If you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there—but perhaps not in the way you’d hope for. For a positive social monitoring experience, set goals and objectives upfront. What do you hope to gain, and what metrics do you want to impact? For example, you may want to better understand customer sentiment and improve it. Making sure you have the right tools in place will support the goals and objectives you set.

Choose the right social media monitoring tools

There’s no shortage of social monitoring tools on the market, but not all will fit what you need. To choose the right ones, get a good sense of what tools you already have in place. Where do you need more support? Keep in mind that a comprehensive platform will save you a headache, as it’ll cover multiple areas of your strategy.

Sprout Social's Smart Inbox is an inbox within the platform that consolidates all incoming messages and mentions into one place.

For example, Sprout Social keeps track of mentions and metrics across Instagram, X, Facebook TikTok and more. Insights are housed in one platform, making it easy to navigate. Sprout also helps you tap into the active part of social monitoring by enabling you to respond to relevant posts, rather than simply presenting you with information.

Monitor relevant keywords for your brand

Draft a keyword list for your social monitoring tools to track. This should include—of course—your brand name and variations of it. Add in product names, competitor brands and industry-specific terminology customers may mention alongside discussions with your organization. Regularly update this list based on what your monitoring efforts discover.

Monitor across all platforms

Your social media approach might not (and probably shouldn’t in many cases) include a presence on every single channel. After all, it’s best to focus your efforts on the spaces your audience spends time most often.

Yet, when it comes to monitoring, it’s best to keep track of all platforms, regardless of whether you have a brand account there. Customers can reference you anywhere, and sticking to your established channels can cause you to miss critical insights. Use a tool that helps online reputation monitoring everywhere, not just a handful of channels.

Responding to social media mentions

One of the key differences between social monitoring and social listening is the reactive nature. Don’t just collect and then hoard the social mentions you find—take action!

As part of your overall strategy, craft an approach for responding to posts you find, both positive and negative. Put authenticity at the forefront, and respond with ‌purpose. A quick thank you to a customer for sharing some information is more meaningful when you say you’ll pass the info on to the right people and then follow through.

Analyze your social media monitoring

So now that you’ve put all this effort into loading search parameters and responding to all your brand-associated messages, what’s next? Are your efforts paying off?

With your social media analytics and the goals you set up front, use reporting to track the results of your social media monitoring approach. If improving customer sentiment is one of your objectives, look at how sentiment has changed in the months after starting your monitoring strategy. Ideally, sentiment will have improved in response to your proactive responses informed by observing insights. If not, consider adjusting how you’re responding and what types of posts you’re prioritizing.

Similarly, if you set out to improve engagement on your channels, compare your engagement rates before starting your social media monitoring approach and after. How has the engagement rate changed? Are certain types of posts doing better than before, and what channels are doing the best?

Ultimately, your monitoring, listening and reporting strategies should all integrate and support one another.

How to use Sprout for social media monitoring

Sprout’s comprehensive social media monitoring capabilities can help you navigate through millions of social conversations in seconds. Here’s a brief guide to some key features.

The strongest element in Sprout’s toolkit of social media monitoring tools is the unified Smart Inbox. Instead of switching between networks, the Inbox helps you stay focused and reply to what matters.

Easily respond to an X (formerly known as Twitter) mention, an Instagram comment and a Facebook review through a single unified Dashboard. All your networks, brand keywords, search results and hashtag campaigns show up in the real-time Inbox. This all-in-one overview is useful for businesses with an active social media presence, especially multi-location or multi-profile brands.

To use Smart Inbox to its fullest extent, begin by adding Brand Keywords. These should include all of your regular mentions of your brand names and the misspellings. Next, add in common brand hashtags and any current campaign hashtags.

Sprout Social's Smart Inbox with customer interactions.

If applicable, be sure your review sites, like Tripadvisor, are also connected. You don’t want to miss out on addressing customer reviews when they are only a quick connection away.

Sprout Social’s listening tool gathering customer reviews from Tripadvisor for topic mining and sentiment analysis

If you’re not using Sprout for monitoring, here’s a list of items that you’ll want your social media monitoring solution to pay attention to (Sprout will monitor for all of these):

  • Brand name, including common misspellings
  • Brand product names
  • All mentions, comments, reviews and direct messages
  • Reviews across various platforms
  • Posts at your location(s)
  • Posts that tag you in their photo
  • Brand hashtags
  • Campaign hashtags
  • Industry hashtags, if applicable
  • C-suite names if they’re active online or an industry thought leader
  • All the above repeated for a competitor, depending on how close an eye you want to keep on them

Once you have this all set up, the next step is responding quickly and with messages from the correct teams. With Sprout, automate assigning them to the appropriate team members depending on the content. One team may handle technical service questions while another responds to retail products. This is where Sprout’s Task and Tagging ability comes in handy. You can assign messages to people and tag each message with appropriate keywords.

Sprout Social Smart Inbox Tag Support Monitoring Feature

Another great use of Tagging is to associate incoming or outgoing messages with a certain product launch, campaign or other initiative by your brand.

The Smart Inbox's Tagging feature associates incoming or outgoing messages with a certain product launch, campaign or other initiative by your brand.

Later on, these tagged messages can easily be pulled into Sprout’s analytics and provide the data that drives your monitoring reports. You can also go a step further to build listening queries that can inform your decisions on marketing and product development.

Sprout’s AI-enabled Social Listening capabilities are a great companion to the monitoring options. Easily build sophisticated listening queries and sort a high volume of collected data into understandable insights.

Monitor, listen, respond, repeat

Once you’ve aligned on your social media monitoring strategy, remember that these strategies often go in a cycle. Monitor so you know what’s being said, listen so you understand it, respond authentically and then do it all over again. Having the right tools in place will help you adjust for each new cycle and apply the learnings from the last round.

When choosing the right monitoring tool for your business, make sure it covers all the social networks you’re presently on, and hopefully, all in one space. With less back and forth between apps and browser tabs, you’ll be able to focus more clearly on the task at hand: social customer care and maximizing the value of your campaigns.

Are you ready to take on a social media monitoring strategy for your brand? Sign up for a free trial of Sprout Social today.

Social Media Monitoring FAQs

What is an example of social monitoring?

One way to monitor social media is to track direct mentions of your brand and links to your most recent marketing campaign. You can also track specific related keywords. Once you find conversations with these elements, you can respond directly to customers on individual platforms.

What is the impact of social media monitoring?

Social media monitoring helps you discover relevant brand conversations and insights you wouldn’t otherwise. With the right tools in place, you can gather these insights in real time to manage crises, find new influencers and brand loyalists and know your customer better, to ultimately increase your conversion rates and improve your business.

What does social media monitoring refer to?

Social media monitoring is the process of collecting social conversations and messages to keep track of customers’ likes, dislikes, wants and changing needs. Social monitoring also includes responding to relevant conversations about your brand. This process is distinct from social listening.