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Ultimate Guide to Instagram Social Listening in 2024

Bronwen Knight
April 12, 2023
Last Updated On
April 24, 2023
instagram social listening blog header

Does your brand know what users say about you on Instagram? 

Despite social entertainment reigning supreme, users still head to Instagram to comment, share, and discuss their favorite brands. If you don’t tap into what your audience says about you, you risk losing an essential piece of data that can help inform your strategy.

Social listening is essential to most brands’ Instagram strategy — you might have a goal to increase engagement, but what if growing engagement is from a torrent of negative comments? Using social listening, you can continually refine your strategy based on what people say and how they feel about your brand and competitors. 

In this article, we discuss the following:

  • What is Instagram social listening? 
  • How does Instagram listening work? 
  • Why is social listening important for brands?
  • How to incorporate social listening into your brand strategy.

What Is Instagram Social Listening?

Instagram listening is the proactive approach of analyzing conversations by visualizing and organizing data related to your brand, competitors, and industry including keywords, competitors, trends, and hashtags on Instagram. Using this method, you can find out what people think about a topic and what they say about it. These conversations provide brands with the insight to ensure an informed Instagram strategy. 

Use Instagram listening to uncover the latest industry trends, assess customer sentiment (and conduct sentiment analysis), and discover potential customers, partnerships and influencers; the list goes on. Social listening on Instagram helps brands keep tabs on conversations and information to bridge the gap between assumptions and honest consumer thoughts and feelings. These insights help to determine brand health, monitor competitors, and create content that resonates in the present.

Instagram listening ensures you stay on top of the conversation, contextualize and visualize interactions, and strategize campaigns to reach a wider audience.

How Does Instagram Listening Work?

Instagram listening involves creating queries, or keyword combinations, based on your brand, hashtags and words relevant to your business, industry, products or campaigns. This is essentially a request for all the Instagram content relevant to the search created. From our ‘What Is Social Listening and Why Is It Important for Brands’ blog, we know this process happens in two parts:

  1. Data collection and filtering: When the data is collected and filtered into saved searches based on specific criteria.‍
  2. Analysis and reporting: When the data is analyzed to identify patterns, trends, and other unique findings, the tool generates a report with actionable insights for brand review.

Tapping into associated keywords, visuals and trends empowers brands to understand what people are saying and how they are saying it. That said, Instagram social listening goes beyond monitoring by investigating how your audience reacts to your brand through sentiment analysis of these conversations. Forget guessing; identify product development opportunities, resolve potential issues, or engage more deeply with your community by understanding exactly what they’re asking for. Your searches allow you to get above the noise to understand how your brand and competitors are being presented online and how audiences respond.

Why Is Social Listening on Instagram Important for Brands?

Social listening on Instagram is essential for understanding what a brand's audience says and how they feel about them compared to its competitors. If social listening isn't part of your Instagram strategy, here are four reasons it should be:

1. Be the First To Content Trends

Since entertaining content is king, keeping a pulse on the internet’s newest focus is essential to understanding trending keywords on Instagram. By analyzing visual context around trending topics, brands can become leaders in the social space by being flexible and first to content trends. 

2. Know How To Show Up Against Your Competitors

For a successful social strategy, it’s important to understand what content your audience is looking for. Have an upcoming product launch or campaign? Need to understand best-performing content amongst your target audience? Leverage Instagram social listening to dig into how your competitors tackled these challenges, and learn from their mistakes and wins!  

3. Owned Understanding: What’s Working and Pain Points 

Monitor conversations on your Instagram posts to identify opportunities to react quickly and level up your strategy. With Instagram social listening, you can determine what your audience is passionate about and their pain points. Get honest customer feedback to help address issues early on and make adjustments to improve brand health. 

4. Increase Sales 

Get information from the source — Instagram social listening allows brands to understand exactly what customers want to see. Use Instagram listening to identify product development opportunities and improve product offerings and marketing strategy. Easily research and predict what will be popular in the coming months to show up for your customers like never before. Not only does this allow brands to be more strategic with social strategy, but it gives invaluable information about the products your audience wants to buy — now.

How To Implement an Instagram Listening Strategy

Implementing an Instagram listening strategy isn’t complex, but there are a few essential steps to ensure chances for success. Follow these steps to create a social listening strategy that enhances your social planning and supports your business goals.   

Choose Your Social Listening Tool

Since social listening covers such a large set of data to be effective, you’ll need to implement a social listening tool to discover actionable next steps. Luckily, Dash Hudson’s social listening tool is launching on April 24th!  

This tool will allow you to go beyond text and numbers to provide real insights into how your brand and competitors are being presented online and how audiences are responding.  

Identify Your Social Listening Goals on Instagram

To set up a successful search, you first need to know what you’re looking for before you start looking for it. Your goals can include identifying content trends, product development, launching a campaign or product and competitive or owned analysis.

That said, these should be specific to your overall strategy and are completely up to you. Other options include monitoring personalities or partnerships, brand awareness and keeping a pulse on pop culture such as shows, movies or events.  Depending on your goals, you can determine which keywords, hashtags and phrases you’ll need to monitor.

Identifying Content Trends

To show up effectively, leverage social listening to understand trending keywords and the visual strategies behind them. Understand what’s trending in real-time or create a keyword query to dig into what’s trending within a specific subject. Through Dash Hudson’s Social Listening tool, you can filter Trending Keywords by Instagram to understand what’s happening in real-time. From there, Visual Trends will summarize the conversation in visual content segments. Know how to pivot your content to maximize engagement and shareability by participating in the discussion. 

Competitive Analysis

Your competitor’s followers should be your followers too, right? Even if you’re satisfied with your follower count, conducting an Instagram competitive analysis is a great way to determine what’s working and what gaps exist in your current strategy. With competitive analysis, brands can quickly identify why competitors have won users’ attention or possibly why they haven’t. This includes analyzing their content segments, community engagement, and hashtag strategies. Brands can get more granular with Instagram listening by adding keywords (including competitors) to better understand how competitors use product launches, campaigns, and other tactics to find success.

Campaign and Product Launches

Save a topic in Dash Hudson with keywords and hashtags specific to your brand and/or your campaigns. Before you launch, you can dig into how other brands show up for this topic to understand your target market and the conversations that take place around a product. This is crucial to inform your content strategy and messaging for the campaign. Once launched, it’s crucial to analyze the sentiment around the campaign through Instagram listening. As a result, brands can stay informed and agile in future communication and social strategies. 

Product or Service Development 

Tapping into the community on Instagram to determine what they want to see in products can be a valuable tool for both the product team and the social team of your brand. It allows the brand to gain an understanding of what customers are looking for in terms of features, design, and more. Additionally, it provides the social team with a sense of how their audience responds to a product and can help to inform your team's content strategy. 

Outline What You’re Listening For

In the world of Instagram listening, it can get noisy quickly. To ensure research is as effective as possible, it’s important to set up your queries to show only the data relevant to your search. When selecting keywords, search conditions can be used to create more complex statements that help a social listening tool narrow down its search results. These conditions include ‘AND’, ‘OR’ and ‘EXCLUDE (NOT)’. 

You’ll also need to choose a data source, either public, competitor or industry. Public allows you to discover how people are talking about your brand, product lines, or competitors. Competitors allow you to choose a specific group and industry source will populate all the brands and creators within the industry you’ve selected. Use these last two options to understand competitors' share of voice and how they’re going to market.  

3 Topic Building Tips:

  1. Keep it simple: Use conditions if you’re anticipating a lot of irrelevant results; monitor how wide of a search this is to guide your keyword research.
  2. Use this structure to set up your topic: [Main term] AND [context terms] NOT [excluded terms]
  3. Think about how people speak online: A product may have a specific name, but people may misspell or refer to it as something else. 

Take Instagram Listening Learnings and Implement Changes

The final step is analyzing the data.

Remember your goal when building your topics, continually monitor conversation volume and find opportunities to engage and address any issues. 

Start with sentiment analysis to identify what types of positive or negative words people use when speaking about your brand, campaign, product or competition. Use negative sentiment to catch complaints before they become larger issues and to pass feedback and insight along to your Product, CX or web teams internally. With positive sentiment, identify big wins for your brand or potential partnerships. 

Look for visual themes that perform well as inspiration for your content strategy. By understanding how other brands show up visually in a conversation, you can make ultra-informed decisions tailored to your target audience's needs and wants. Use this information as inspiration and direction into what lands and what doesn’t.

Instagram Social Listening by Dash Hudson

Visuals always have been and always will be the heart of Instagram. So, now more than ever it’s important to have a tool that captures those very specific insights. Classic social listening tools can gather basic information, but it takes a sophisticated feature to be able to break through the noise and uncover insights beyond text and numbers. 

Dash Hudson’s social listening tool for Instagram affords brands the opportunity to surface visual trends, see competitors’ strategies, measure audience and UGC sentiment, and create easy-to-use reports for your brand, products and campaigns. You can now deeply understand how you’re being presented online and how audiences are responding.


Can you do social listening on Instagram?

You can do basic social listening organically through Instagram, although it’s time-consuming and manual. To do this, you’ll need to define which phrases you’re looking for, and look through comments, shares (where users can add a note to who they share to), and competitors’ posts and comments for these phrases. You can also understand user interactions through reels, posts, comments, and hashtags. Narrow your search down by identifying competitors or industry leaders to recognize strategies working for them.

Does Instagram listen to you?

While Instagram doesn’t ‘listen’ to you by definition, they do monitor things like hashtags, reports, location tags, and more. This helps them suggest your brand to users who might be interested in your account, local accounts for you to follow, and more personalized suggestions. 

How often should I monitor social listening on Instagram for my brand?

The frequency of social listening on Instagram will depend on your brand’s unique strategy. There might be terms you define and pull into a report you review weekly or monthly, or you might want immediate alerts that tell you when certain keywords are mentioned. If you’re monitoring a set of keywords specific to a campaign, you might want to monitor this daily, weekly, or even monthly, depending on how long it's set to run.

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