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  • Social understanding vs social listening: the key to meaningful engagement

    September 15, 2023

    In digital marketing and brand management, two terms often thrown around are “social understanding” and “social listening.” While they may sound similar, they represent distinct approaches to harnessing the power of social media for businesses. Let’s explore what each means and how they differ.

    Social Listening:

    Social listening is akin to eavesdropping in the online world. It involves monitoring social media platforms, forums, and other online spaces to collect data about what people are saying about your brand, products, or industry. This data is then analysed to gain insights into public sentiment and trends. For instance, a company might use social listening to track mentions of their brand on Twitter to gauge customer satisfaction.

    Social Understanding:

    Social understanding is not just about listening to what’s being said but also comprehending why it’s being said. This approach involves a more comprehensive data analysis, including user behaviour, emotions, and motivations. Social understanding seeks to get to the heart of what makes your audience tick.


    Suppose a restaurant chain uses social listening and discovers customers complain about long wait times. They may respond by improving their reservation system or hiring more staff. With social understanding, the same restaurant chain might go a step further. They identify complaints about wait times and delve into the underlying emotions and motivations. Customers may be frustrated because they choose the restaurant based on its reputation for quick dining. Service issues have meant that it’s anything but. The chain could rework its menu to include faster options, satisfying customers’ need for speed.

    Similarly, if an electronics company monitors social media and notices an uptick in mentions of a particular model, it responds by launching a marketing campaign centred around that model. However, with social understanding, they analyse the sentiments and conversations surrounding the model. They discover that users are excited about its sleek design and powerful features. Understanding these motivations, the company crafts a campaign emphasising the model’s aesthetics and performance, resonating more deeply with their audience.

    In essence, while social listening is valuable for tracking surface chatter, social understanding enables brands to tap into their audience’s emotions, motivations, and desires. It’s the difference between merely hearing what’s being said and truly comprehending why it matters, allowing businesses to forge stronger connections and deliver more meaningful experiences. Both approaches have their place, but when combined, they create a potent strategy for success in the digital age.

    Sila harnesses the power of Arabic-native AI with multilingual proficiency, including a grasp of over 20 Arabic dialects. All of that knowledge makes Sila the ideal partner for understanding a diverse MENA audience.

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