Have you heard the term ‘social listening’ used when navigating the world of social media marketing and simply wondered if it’s as important as they say?

Social listening is the concept of monitoring mentions of your brand and industry using online media sources such as social media, blogs and news articles. As well as helping you stay on top of the latest trends and be ultra-responsive to your customers, social listening is an essential tool for crisis communications and quick-thinking campaigns. And sometimes, it really pays off for your brand!

A fantastic example of this was the rather famous  Arby’s x Pharrell Williams hat campaign that went viral during the 2014 Grammys. In an interview with Marketing Land, Arby’s Social Media Manager Josh Martin revealed that he had other posts planned for the Grammys night. However, after a few tweets started trickling in about the hat he used the opportunity to weigh in on the conversation, tweeting:

Within minutes, the post gained traction Martin was not prepared for. Getting a reply from the A-lister himself was the icing on the cake for this timely tweet, which earned 83,000 retweets, 384 times Arby’s usual Twitter reach at the time of posting, and helped the brand gain a further 6,000 followers. The saga continued when Pharrell auctioned the now-famous hat for charity and Arby’s bought it for $44,100. Arby’s is now known for their Twitter antics, which often involve niche pop culture references.

More recently, in early 2018, Stranger Things actor David Harbour mentioned Greenpeace in a tweet about emperor penguins:

Greenpeace was listening and responded the very next day with a challenge. The actor posted it to his followers which well surpassed the target gaining 376,000 retweets and generating 580,150 conversations. The tweet ranked #17 on Brandwatch’s ‘101 Times Brands Went Viral in 2018’ report. A few months later, Harbour embarked on the expedition and quickly became an advocate for Greenpeace’s Protect the Antarctic mission. He posted the promised ‘dancing with penguins’ video with a plea for followers to sign a petition to assist Greenpeace in securing the largest protected area on Earth – an Antarctic Ocean Sanctuary. This remains his pinned Tweet to date, and I guess it’s still working since I stopped by the website and signed the petition myself while researching this article! By being on top of their social listening and organic content, Greenpeace was able to tap into a different market to support their cause.


It pays to listen and know what is being said about your brand in both positive and negative light. Make social listening a part of your marketing strategy today – there are some great free tools and paid programs out there to make it a simple yet valuable part of your daily routine.