Social listening and essential response: how to use social media to your brand’s advantage

Virginia Backaitis
3 min readJan 10, 2024

by Meagan Saxton

Using social media as a tool for customer service is a cornerstone of digital marketing in the 21st century. However, it isn’t as simple as firing off a series of posts on X in response to angry customers. In fact, responding to customers when they are angry is merely one component of a broader social strategy — one that’s only necessary if the other components are struggling to amplify your brand’s message.

Any response strategy begins with building relationships. Communicating with customers and clients — past, present, and future — is a business strategy as old as time. A social media strategy is no different; only the forum for building those relationships is new.

Although what you say when responding to customers and clients is an in-the-moment choice, responding should be considered part of a longer-term strategy of community engagement on every social platform where your brand appears.

Responding also begins with listening. “Social listening” is the practice of analyzing online conversations about your brand, competitor brands, and related keywords to learn more about your audience. What are people saying about your products, your customer service, your new logo — anything?

Most likely, the majority of what is said online will not demand a response from an official branded account. However, responding isn’t the primary purpose of listening. You can always listen to learn.

For example, say your company releases a new product. If users are encountering a common, solvable problem while using the product, social listening can help. Keep tabs on the relevant social channels for the product name and/or your brand to understand what people are saying about the problem. Instead of responding to questions, complaints, or concerns individually, your customers’ comments might inform an article that you post to your company’s website. Then, where appropriate, direct those customers on social media to your site, where they can learn how to solve the problem.

Not every social media complaint comes with the luxury of time. Experienced social media teams have the benefit of understanding which complaints are…