Productivity Hacks: Social Listening edition

Social Listening’s one of those phrases that’s been creeping into the workplace more and more recently. What does it mean? Should you even care?

Isn’t this just another buzzword for comfy recruiters to chuck around? Or is it a concept you should – nay, must – take advantage of before the end of 2018?

What’s Social Listening?

It’s keeping an ear out for discussions on the internet. Social Listening uses apps to track social media activity.

Companies use it to monitor keywords, usually their own name or their products, to find out if anyone’s saying anything mean about them on social networks.

A good example is McDonald’s finding out people said their chicken nuggets were made of PVA glue, fingernails and bits of lego. They ran an ad campaign disputing it and paid to show it everywhere.

Granted, this isn’t the way recruiters would use it. But from a marketing perspective, you can see why the idea’s got legs. (18)

Why should you care?

Unless branding falls under your remit, the only reason you’d need to see what people are saying about your company is to find out whether or not their reputation’s trash.

If it is, let’s be bold and suggest you at least look at what else is out there.

Otherwise, you’d use it anytime you need to leverage your knowledge of the market. Social Listening’s built to harvest insights from a variety of different online sources.

Taking this insight into BD calls, sales pitches, and meetings is another way to prove you know your market inside out, as opposed to simply claiming to.

So it’s knowledge on top of what you get from your network already. The difference is, it could be an open door to new business, increased awareness and better relationships.

Apps and tools

Most of these take less than five minutes to set up and will save you hours of sifting later. To maximise their impact, it’s best to focus on the key players in your industry and the keywords your market uses.

There are plenty of paid services out there. I’ll start with the free ones. (21)

Google Alerts

You’ll need a Google account to sign in, but this free tool emails you when new posts containing your favourite keywords hit the internet.

Set up multiple alerts and define search filters based on sources (news, videos, finance etc), geography, how many results and how often you get them.

Dead easy to set up and a passive way of testing whether Social Listening’s right for you.

Social Mention

Social Mention’s a search engine that digs keyword results out of social networks. It’s literally as complex as using Google.

Speaking of which, you can set up alerts to your email. SM scores your searches, suggests related terms, and provides at-a-glance analytics right beside your results.


Boardreader does the same thing Social Mention does, except it pulls results from message boards, forums and news blogs. This includes Reddit, which is sometimes the internet equivalent of a festival toilet.

You can filter results, compare terms and generate charts, if you like that sort of thing.


‘If This Then That’ curates keyword mentions from RSS feeds. Which means anywhere blogging occurs. This is handy if you spend time trawling through the same websites looking for new industry content.

Simply tell IFTTT what you want to hear about and it collates relevant posts for you in one place.


A major name in multi-platform social media management, HS allows you to set up “search streams” that pull results from social networks based on posts that contain the keywords you specify.

This 80 second video shows you how to do it. It works on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook and the fourteen people worldwide that bothered to set up a Google+ profile.

The HS App Directory has a few social listening tools too. Hootsuite’s free for individuals and different pricing plans unlock additional functionality.

Crowd Analyzer

This is an integration from the Hootsuite App Directory. Crowd Analyzer’s the “first Arabic focused internationally recognized social media monitoring platform”. It’s also free.

Mimicking HS functionality, it’s strength is analysing differing Arabic dialect to determine appropriate sentiment and relevance to internet commenters. One for recruiters who do business in the Middle East. (19)


These are all-in-one social media monitoring suites that allow you to filter keyword searches, respond to messages and comments, track your metrics against competitors and customise automated reporting. All from a single dashboard within the app.

All of these platforms offer a free trial before committing to a pricing plan.


Monitoring, competitive analysis, custom insights and finding influencers on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, blogs, forums and more.

Sign up for a free trial then pick one of these pricing plans.

Sprout Social

A smart inbox, social CRM, team features and a big focus on analytics across your major social media platforms.

All pricing plans include a 30 day free trial.


Positioned as a hashtag tracker, Keyhole does all that alongside keyword and user mention reportage.

Plans are free for 7 days and five different pricing options can be found here.


Boasting “visual listening” (which I would probably just describe as “seeing”), Talkwalker analyses images as well as all the usual features of text search. They also cover print, TV and radio media too.

You can get a free demo before picking a pricing plan. (20)

Using Social Listening well

Data misuse across social media’s been in the news recently. And when I wrote about GDPR back in April, I boldly claimed it would be between recruiters and insurance companies in the race to receive the first big fine.

So far it’s not been us. Let’s keep it that way.

Social listening’s basically digital eavesdropping, except the conversations people post online are on public display in the museum of the internet. Any doubts on processing data? Don’t. Until you’ve had a chat with your DPO.

Used correctly, I can see social listening altering the way recruitment companies communicate. Not just getting to the odd fiery review quickly, but taking the time to understand how the market actually speaks and tailoring content and messages from there.

As technology develops and the recruitment industry lumbers on, market knowledge will remain a key differentiator. Being ‘someone who knows their stuff’ is the loftiest of all socially applied titles and the career benefits of establishing a reputation for having your finger on the pulse are enormous.

Think of social listening as a time-efficient way to add to your birds eye view of the market.