4 steps to using social listening to measure your PR efforts


4 steps to using social listening to measure your PR efforts

Because we’re almost done with 2021, we now need to look back and prepare ourselves for the year ahead.

And while this means most of us will sit back, spend some quality time with our families, and eat way, way too much chocolate, the term“year-end” often goes hand in hand with reporting.

So if you’ve been doing PR for a long time, you know too well that measuring your overall performance and getting actionable insights can be extremely tedious. Moreover, not using the right tools, it can also become especially difficult.

In a previous blog post, I shared with you five reasons to use a social listening tool to measure your PR efforts.

Today, however, I’m going to guide you through the four steps to using social listening to measure your PR.

Despite the fact that I’m using Mention to illustrate this blog post, regardless of the social listening tool you use, the thought process remains the same. And if you want more information on the topic, please read ‘How to use data to measure your PR efforts’.

Step 1. Define the metrics you want to track

First of all, you’ll need to define your objectives and establish the metrics.

As a result, your plan will define the metrics you should pay attention to (and eventually tell you whether you need a listening tool or not). For example, if your objective is to get the media to cover your story, you’ll be measuring the number of media mentions.

However, and more specifically, the 4 most common PR use cases regarding social listening are:

  • Measuring engagement
  • Measuring brand awareness
  • Managing a PR crisis
  • Running a competitive analysis

Now, let’s take a look at each one of them.

1. Measuring engagement

If it’s the engagement you want to measure, you should focus on the number of likes, retweets, comments or replies your posts generate.

Certainly, social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, or Instagram can provide you with this information.

To illustrate this, see the example below of the data you can get from Twitter after running a paid campaign.

2. Measuring brand awareness

To measure brand awareness, you should focus on metrics such as the volume of mentions your brand receives, the platforms you’re mentioned on, and the location of these mentions.

Finally, how many people are talking about you? And where?

As a side note, it’s not uncommon for SMB executives to see PR as a ‘nice to have. However, this is a big mistake! SMBs need awareness more than anything else to grow.

That said, you shouldn’t just focus on quantitative metrics to measure your brand awareness.

A social listening tool like Mention will also tell you how influential the people who are talking about you are. I’ll talk more about this in Step 3.

3. Managing a PR crisis

While being able to avoid all PR crises is ideal, social listening should help you identify and defuse most of them before they blow up in your face.

To that end, you should focus on three metrics:

  1. The volume of mentions: are you noticing a sudden spike of social posts mentioning your brand?
  2. Sentiment: is there a sudden wave of negative comments about your brand?
  3. Trends: a trend analysis will tell you what are the main topics associated with your brand.

See this example of a potential crisis buzzing around Amazon that I found a couple of days ago, using Mention.

I focused on the trends coming from mentions with a negative tone only. The word “Choke” caught my attention.


It led me to this tweet.

Even though Daniel only has about 120 followers, his tweet made some waves. Yet another proof that PR crises can hit you anywhere, anytime.

Fortunately, Amazon picked it and fixed the issue before it escalated into something much, much bigger.

4. Running competitive analyses

Running competitive analysis involves keeping an eye on all the metrics mentioned above but in relation to your biggest competitors.

The main goal is to understand how well you do in comparison to your closest rivals.


As a result, comparing your performances to theirs is an effective way to measure your work and understand how to gain market shares.

When they launch new campaigns, you’ll see which platforms they’re targeting and how successful they are. Moreover, who are they talking with to promote their message, and which micro-influencers are they reaching out to?

Consequently, can you do the same? How much attention are you able to draw compared to your competitors?


The first step to leveraging social listening? Measurement.

Now that you have a clearer idea of how you can benefit from social listening, it’s time to guide you through creating alerts to listen to what matters to you and your brand.

Step 2: Decide what to monitor(and create alerts)

Identifying the relevant conversations is not necessarily a piece of cake, at least not without a proper tool.

The whole point of social listening is to help marketers and communicators to separate the sheep from the goat, and to identify the most relevant conversations about their brand, their products, their competitors, and market.

Create relevant alerts

As a PR professional, the first thing you’ll likely want to listen to is your brand.

Well, with a tool such as Mention, setting up your alerts is easy as pie. Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Select what you want to monitor
  2. Add social pages you’d like to keep an eye on
  3. Select social media platforms and languages you want to track from
  4. Create your alert


And that’s it.

All you have to do at this point is to wait and gather the relevant data.


Step 3: Monitor and report

Depending on what you’re listening to, you should start getting valuable insights after a couple of days.

Actually, just by glancing at a performance dashboard, you could see if there’s anything you should pay attention to.



And if you do find something interesting, just click on the biggest spike in the volume of mentions.

See the example below with Movember. When looking at the influencers discussing this topic, I saw that the @AllBlacks are talking about it.


Could they be a potential partner for the Movember Association next year? Definitely!

And this leads us to the last step: iteration.

Step 4: Evaluate your work and iterate

Always challenge your strategy.

For many years, PR pros were working in the dark, basing their work on assumptions and maybes.

Today, they can measure each and every step, which creates all the more opportunities to learn and improve their performance.

According to Matthieu Vaxelaire, COO Mention & Mynewsdesk, “We learn more from each other than the sound of our own voices. The more we listen, the more we learn.”

Measuring your PR efforts through a social listening tool will tell you how well your strategy is performing, including:

  • How well are you performing over time?
  • Are you active in the right markets?
  • Are you working with the right people?
  • Are there trends you should follow?

Evaluate the tools you’re using

Between having to know everything that’s happening in real time, creating content, identifying and reaching out to relevant influencers and journalists and measuring their work, PR professionals are swamped.

Therefore, they need all the help they can get – and this is where tools are huge time-savers.

To try help some of you, I recently shortlisted 18 tools PR pros should try to improve their processes and be more efficient. Check it out and tell me what you think!

Measure. Understand. Iterate.

Remember, no strategy is ever perfect. Nevertheless, you can continuously make yours better.

By measuring your work, you’ll understand and improve your performance. Test your audience; try different headlines, and see how they react to your content. Also, keep in mind that the only way to know for sure is to experiment and measure.

Lastly, I can’t wait to hear what you have to say about this: How do you proceed to measure your PR performance on social media?

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