Search Listening vs. Social Listening: How To Take Advantage of Each Technology.

Table of Contents

All brands need to listen to consumers

Social & search listening are 2 faces of the same industry: consumer & market intelligence.

Consumer & market intelligence is the art of detecting patterns in human behavior to help brands launch the best products and offers – perfectly matching the true demand. It focuses on understanding consumer expectations, motivations and fears of consumers, with the lowest biais possible.

Ultimate goal is to get insights to all steps in the purchase journey – to get a 360° understanding of markets & consumers.

  • What do consumers want?
  • Where do consumers want to buy products?
  • How many people could be reached with our product?
  • Why do consumers prefer our solution/brand over others?
  • How do consumers experience our product?

Multiple methodologies have been developed in the last decades to help marketers answer these questions by different kinds of consumer surveys:

  • focus groups
  • direct interviews
  • evaluation forms
  • in-store videos
  • retail panels
  • consumer panels
 

Social listening is useful to learn from promoters & detractors.

The rise of the Web 2.0 offered a new opportunity for consumers to express their opinion through online forums & social networksGiving birth to social listening at the same time.

Engaging brands to start listening to what consumers were saying online, promoting or trashing on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or news article comments – but also listening to how consumers were reacting to branded or sponsored posts.

Social listening essentially allows you to follow the advocates and detractors of your brand – aka consumers who already experienced your brand or your competitors.

Your brand has no choice but stays aware of spontaneous reviews left after a purchase on online platforms like Google, Amazon, or Trustpilot.

It is a very direct way to discover & understand why people did or did not enjoy your product and its features. 

While most social listening leaders like BrandWatch or Synthesio pretend monitoring reviews from different sources, a few great startups have emerged as specialists in online review analytics:

Partoo

Social listening is also great to compare the effectiveness of different social media marketing campaigns by monitoring the amount of likes, comments, shares… It consists in gathering data, this tracking on social media is ideal for monitoring ROI or A/B testing campaigns.

With these results you can understand what content tend to buzz online and which codes you have to use on your audience. So, search listening is not only about collecting data. It allows you to examine what has already happened using indicators to adapt your speech and try to reach as many people as possible on platforms such as: TikTok, Instagram, Twitter… 

But what consumers say online is not what consumers want.

If people are living their best lives on Instagram, they’re experiencing their real lives with Google.

Social listening and search listening are essentially different, even though they share similar codes in analytics. Social listening emerged with the solid ambition of capturing everything that is said online by Internet users through their posts, comments, reactions, and interactions.

Promising brands to understand what consumers want from your brand. The truth is that, very few consumers express themselves publicly online (less than 1% of social media users).

When they do express themselves it is usually to criticize a brand or make a complain (detractors) or recommend a product or service (advocates). Unfortunately, it leaves the silent mass unmonitored and outside of the analysis. 

With social listening, brand cannot learn anything about their market, i.e. what consumers really want. Brands must find other ways (and data) to survey masses to find answers to these questions:

  • What do consumers want?
  • Where do consumers want to buy products?
  • How many people could be reached with our product?

At Trajaan, we do not believe that social listening is a good option to monitor consumer needs.

Social networks are public places where everything can be seen by anyone. Implying certain caution when posting, or on the opposite putting more emphasis than needed when criticizing a brand.

Leading to a strong bias effect. As a brand, you only get access to what people want to tell you, and not what they truly think or feel.

Why listening to online searchers is the best solution to understand what consumers want

Nobody is worried about being listened when using search bars on Google or Amazon. Online searches truly represent people minds, interests & hidden desires. Search engines provide an unparalled access to the largest existing consumers panel. You don’t only have access to social media users, you have access to anyone using search engines, which is almost everyone.

Good to know, that 83% of consumers use Google before buying something. Search engines are now totally part of the customer journey. Ignoring online searchers would be shooting your own leg!

amazon

Search engines are the true mirrors of the world. Studying Internet users’ queries is like diving directly into the psychology of users, without bias, without deduction, without restraint. 

If you can collect, process, and analyze thousands of search queries, your company can stay ahead of your competitors and launch new targeted offerings before your competitors do. 

Search listening has emerged with the rise of ecommerce & increasing usage of search engines.

  • Trending products, emerging categories by season/months.
  • Regions/cities with the highest affinity for specific products or features
  • Weak signals with low volume & huge growth that might become your future best sellers
Platform

Search listening and social listening are essentially different. These two technologies provide different insights at different steps of the customer journey.

  • Use search listening to drive your innovation, optimize your offers to make brand perfectly match market trends and get visible when consumers start considering buying something.
  • Use social listening technology to reveal your customers pain points & improve your products

 

Long story short, best solution is not to focus on one or the other. Just use the right one depending on whether you want to learn about your consumers or your customers.

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