Market intelligence and social listening: what they are and how to use them

in Technology, 08.06.2018

Want an early warning on emerging trends in a certain sector or business area? Need to know what the web thinks about your company? Such demands should be simply met these days, with the wealth of information available out there, but in practice it is more easily said than done. Finding the gems of data that can transform your business, or simply those that are relevant to your everyday needs, is a real challenge.

Many tools for making sense of all that data have emerged, and even choosing one (or several) can be a daunting task. Social media companies offer their own analysis functions, as do Google and Facebook and the like—then you have simple RSS feed readers, plus a whole range of market intelligence and social listening products like intelligent crawlers, semantic analysis engines, natural language processing tools, and more.

In this article I want to make sense of this field of specialised tools. Broadly, they can be categorised into market intelligence tools and social listening tools.


Market intelligence is the gathering, analysis, and delivery of information to decision-makers. The information comes from news, RSS feeds, blogs, social networks, and other sources. Its main goal is to gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace, though it can be productively applied elsewhere too.

Social listening is the monitoring of what’s being said about your company and products on social media specifically. The idea is to extract insights (who are your main influencers? what kind of impact has campaign X had?) that could be relevant on marketing, communication, and strategic levels.


Market intelligence tools allow you to shift your efforts from gathering information to analysing it. They search automatically according to a scope and criteria set that you can customise. There are many use cases for them, such as:

  • populating an internal data intelligence platform on which you could share information
  • preventing (or managing) crises by generating real-time alerts and reports
  • keeping you up to date on research trends, industry insights, and regulations (e.g. GDPR)
  • generating newsletters, dashboards, and similar deliverables
  • helping you do time-consuming tasks (research, analyses, etc.) more quickly and with a broader scope

Social listening tools help you build a 360° degree view of your brand. They analyse mentions across social networks, as well as news sites, blogs, and other webpages, interpreting users’ needs, desires, and perceptions of your brand. In addition to definite strategic advantages, you can also respond directly to the comments and problems found and heard by these tools. A few use cases:

  • discovering influencers on social networks (so you can use them to amplify your messaging)
  • noticing and reacting to new trends in your sector
  • optimising the type and timing of your content
  • enabling you to protect your reputation

Often, dedicated market intelligence tools also provide social listening functionalities.

Need further help?

My team and I work with market intelligence every day. If you have further questions, or need help developing your market intelligence activities, feel free to contact me or visit our webpage.

This article has been written by Olivier Hoerold.

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