The limitations of social listening & how to overcome them

Posted on April 26, 2021

Updated on May 25, 2022

5 min read time

Social Listening is widely used in the Brand Management world to acquire customer feedback and detect common trends and patterns on the movements of brands and categories.  


But is it an easy fix for a much more complex problem?  In this blogpost, we’ll be delving into the social listening process, exploring its benefits and weaknesses, and outlining other trusted alternative sources a brand can use to gain reliable, actionable data.  

First, what is Social Listening?

The Social Listening Process is twofold, involving a social monitoring side and a social analysis side. Through the monitoring stage, brands track their social channels for keywords and mentions about themselves, their products and their competition. The aim here is to gain as much valuable customer feedback as possible to improve their processes. During the analysis stage, a Brand Manager will scrutinize this data and reformulate it in a useful way to help inform future brand strategies.


Social Listening tools can be beneficial, as they provide an inside look into the eyes of a consumer, showing how they perceive a brand. This data can be used to guide future brand behavior, ensuring it’s always in line with what a consumer expects and wants from that brand.  


But these tools come with their own set of problems: 

  • Social platforms are often noisy and overcrowded places – so it can be difficult to find the information you’re after  
  • Social Listening tools also cannot identify sentiment, which is a key factor that influences a brand’s relationships with its consumers 
  • The nature of online conversation is also rapidly changing, with a lot of conversation moving from public spheres into private spaces (like direct messaging on Instagram)  
  • Social Listening data can also be difficult to action  


Why is Social Listening limited?  

  • The quality of the data 

Social Listening tools generate reams of data. Searching through this large quantity of data can be time-consuming. Imagine you were looking for information on the brand, Apple. You’d have to wade through so much data on the fruit before finding anything of use about the brand.  When retrieving data off these sites, be mindful you are only receiving views from a select group of the population, as only specific users are on these platforms. These views therefore may not be representative of the whole population of people consuming your products and services.  


Social Listening data also doesn’t always represent what a true user thinks and believes. It shows what people are publicly projecting about themselves, which is often very different to what they actively believe. This is proven by the sheer quantity of trolls that exist online. A Social Listening tool cannot identify a troll from a user, which is problematic when trying to create meaning from this data.

  • Social platforms are noisy places 

There is so much data on these platforms, that it can often be difficult to find the exact truth you are looking for. As Social Listening Tools won’t let you set specific goals when retrieving data, you may run the risk of coming back with a large quantity of data that isn’t at all relevant to your objectives. If you were trying to improve your customer service, for example, you wouldn’t be able to tailor your searches to only focus on this area. You would have to dive into all the data it retrieves in the hope one item might be related to your query. 

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  • Social tools cannot identify sentiment  

Machines struggle to understand if a statement is positive or negative, which can be a huge problem when trying to gain value from these datasets. They also struggle with sarcasm, irony and humor, which also means a large quantity of this data might be categorized incorrectly as the opposite of its meaning. Think of a person saying, ‘this product is the dog’s balls’. A machine would take this sentence at its basest meaning, as it wouldn’t have the ability to dig deeper to gauge the true sentiment of the statement.   

  • Conversations are changing online: 

Statuses and public posts on groups, which were so common a few years ago on Facebook and Instagram, have now become overshadowed by direct messaging, which Social Listening Tools do not have access to.  

  • Social data is difficult to action 

It can be difficult to action the information you receive from Social Listening tools, as they do not provide suggestions or ideas on what to do with the data. After you’ve generated your data, you still have to go off and make sense of it on your own, creating your own pie charts, reports and analyses.  


What can you use instead of Social Listening tools? 

At ProQuo AI, our action-orientated Brand Management platform provides high quality data, that is guaranteed to grow your brand.  


We differ from Social Listening tools, as our data is always-on, incorporates feelings, allows you to infer causation, and is action-orientated. So, when you use ProQuo, you know you’re not just getting reliable data, but you’re also receiving an action-plan showing you what to do with that data.   



Unlike Social Listening tools, our data population is representative. We gather feelings and thoughts from real people every day, across all categories, age ranges and locations to gain the most wide-reaching, inclusive dataset of all. With our data, you have the ability to segment by group, to see how non-users compare to users, and how different demographics and age ranges think and feel about your products or services. This allows you to get a closer read on individual groups, so you can turn up the dial on any categories requiring attention.  


With Social Listening tools, it’s often impossible to gauge who your audience is. But with ProQuo, you can focus in on a specific target audience and segment this further by group for more in-depth analysis.  


Feelings and thoughts:  

95% of purchasing decisions are based off feelings but social sites aren’t great for gauging feelings. If someone is reviewing a product on Twitter, they’re more likely to focus on the negatives to try to access discounts and freebies later down the line. And on Instagram and Facebook, presenting your ‘perfect life’ has become the norm. With all this deception at play, real feelings don’t receive the airtime they deserve.  


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That’s why our ProQuo Brand Management platform stands out in a sea of phony intelligence systems.  


Here’s our process. We tell you the marketing decisions to make, based on goals you set in the platform. These marketing decisions are powered through real-time data, that is collected through analyzing the feelings and thoughts of real people, using our tried and tested IP, the 16 Drivers. The 16 Drivers are 16 factors that have been proven to make up every relationship, and especially the relationship a brand shares with its consumers. Brands that perform well against these Drivers stand a better chance of improving their relationships. For example, if your category valued honesty and authenticity, a way to get ahead would be to focus on boosting your Transparency Driver, to grow your connection with your consumers.  


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Not only do we incorporate feelings into our platform, but we also provide guidance. The thoughts part of our platform helps to explain why consumers feel a certain way and provides actionable guidance to help boost these feelings. We call these our Marketing Levers, and there are 14 of them. When pulled correctly, these help to improve the performance of specific Drivers. For example, if you were struggling on the ProQuo Driver, Integrity, you may want to work on your Packaging Lever to ensure your material is sustainable, so you can connect with a more eco-conscious audience.  


Forget Excel spreadsheets, charts and reports, ProQuo’s Guidance feature does all the analytical work for you. You set the goal, we tell you the actions to take (based off our 14 Marketing Levers), and your brand will grow. 


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Before ProQuo existed, Brand Managers were forced to rely on insufficient data to make ineffective decisions and were unable to detect the impact of these actions. Now, every single day, you are armed with the knowledge you need to create positive outcomes for your brand, based off better data than has ever existed before. No more scraping the internet for sentiment. Everything you need is in one handy place.  


Why not book a demo today? 

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