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The Differences Between Social Monitoring, Listening, and Analytics

By Rion Martin  •  March 28, 2015


The Differences Between Social Monitoring, Listening, and Analytics

Posted by: Rion Martin on March 28, 2015
Rion Martin
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Social media monitoring, listening, analytics, and intelligence are often used synonymously, but in reality each term actually describes something quite different.

To add to the confusion, tools like Infegy Atlas, Crimson Hexagon Forsight, Brandwatch Analytics, and Netbase Insights Composer, are all known as social media monitoring platforms, yet all three of these tools do more than just monitor the social web for mentions.

In order to help clarify the key differences between these, and other important terms used in the social media monitoring space, we’ve put together a master list of terminology.

Social Media Monitoring

The practice of monitoring online conversations about a specific phrase, word, or brand.

Social Media Monitoring Tool

The industry recognized category for software platforms that provide monitoring, listening, analytics, and/or intelligence capabilities.

Social Media Listening

The practice of actively listening to and seeking to understand online conversations about a specific phrase, word, or brand.

Social Media Listening Tool

A social listening platform is a system that provides the ability to collect online conversations based on user specified terms and is able to provide some degree of contextual information through the analysis of those conversations.

Social Media Analytics

Measuring baseline metrics such as number of mentions, retweets, or projected impressions for a collection of online conversations about a specific subject or topic. This is often included in platforms themselves (think Facebook Insights), as a capability within social media management platforms (see below).

Social Media Intelligence

The quantitative and qualitative analysis of an aggregate collection of conversations, the purpose of which is to support better decision making and provide a deep understanding of how consumers think, discuss, and feel about the topic of study. Providers include: Infegy, Crimson Hexagon, and Netbase.

Social Media Management

Monitoring owned and earned social media with the primary focus of engaging with consumers, building an online presence, and/or reputation management. Providers include: Hootsuite, SproutSocial, TweetDeck, and Buffer.


The process of interacting with and reaching out to users of social media for organizational purposes including but not limited to brand management, customer service, support and sales. This is often the primary aim in using a social media management tool (see above).


A user whose opinions and statements impact the perceptions others have of a particular subject. Influencers can range from having low impact to having tremendous impact based on the degree to which their statements are viewed as being trustworthy, and the size of the audience an influencer is able to reach. Providers of tools strictly related to tracking influence include: Klout, Kred, and PeerIndex.

Sentiment analysis

The analysis of text to determine the tonality with which the subject is discussed. This is generally reported as positive, negative or neutral. Common methods are Natural Language Processing (NLP), Bayesian Classification, and other forms of automated analysis, as well as manual coding of individual posts. Learn more about NLP based sentiment analysis

Insights (or actionable insights)

Insights are the result of analyzing a given set of metrics to answer business questions. These metrics can range from simple measurements such as volume, to more complex data-points like passion and purchase intent.

Customer Intelligence

The quantitative and qualitative information about customers

Sentiment Precision/Accuracy

A measure of how often a sentiment rating was correct. For documents with tonality, accuracy tracks how many of those that were rated to have tonality were rated correctly. Learn more about sentiment accuracy

Sentiment Recall

A measure of how many documents with sentiment were rated as sentimental. This could be seen as how accurately the system determines neutrality. Learn more about the importance of sentiment recall

Sentiment F1 Score

Also called F-Score or F-Measure, a combination of precision and recall. The score is in a range of 0.0 - 1.0, where 1.0 would be perfect. The F1 Score provides a single metric that rates a system by both precision and recall.

As such, it is commonly used amongst experts and researchers in the linguistics and natural language processing fields to simply describe the performance of such systems. The formula for calculating F1 Score is: F1 = 2 ((precision recall) / (precision + recall)). Learn more about sentiment F1 score

Potential Reach

An estimate of the maximum potential social media users a post could be seen by under absolutely perfect conditions.

Social Media Audience Segmentation

The process of dividing people into subgroups based on expressed behaviors, opinions, associations, life stages, passions, interests, or other defined criteria, in order to perform more targeted social media based consumer research.

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