In this article, we’ll tell you all you need to know about using keyword research for social media marketing and how social listening can help build a winning strategy. Learn to be a pro and master your outreach efforts with these simple tips. 

From meeting the audience needs to providing answers to their questions and monitoring engagement, social media marketing is woven into the fabric of the broader marketing landscape. And the best strategies focus on keywords to find and interact with the most relatable audiences. 

Whether you’re part of a team or building your own strategy, keywords will inform everyone involved about what to publish and how to maximize reach. Knowing what people are going to search for before they do it lets you stay one step ahead. 

Why use keyword research for social media? 

keywords research

You have probably come across keyword research before. It helps with Search Engine Optimization (SEO), and using the right keywords can bring lots of organic traffic your way — whether it’s for a blog post or trying to get your website featured on search engine results. 

Yet many still don’t consider using keywords when they’re trying to build an audience on social media, even though the principals are the same as ranking for website content. People search on social media just as they do on Google. In an ideal world, your profile will show up in relevant results. 

As soon as someone types a search word into a social media platform, the algorithm is looking for keywords to determine which profiles display on the results page. Most social media platforms remember searches, too, and recommend content based on your previous queries. 

For example, Instagram will keep showing you images based on your search results, along with pictures you have previously liked. So it’s vital that you do your social media keyword research and start ranking for suitable results. 

How to research keywords for social media

how to research keywords for social media

Finding keywords relevant to your brand is reasonably straightforward, even in the social media landscape. There are several tools that let you find and test words that match with your brand so you can improve your chances of ranking on social media algorithms.

Google Analytics

The primary keyword research function, Google Analytics is the de facto tool for sourcing keywords. However, a lot of marketing teams are unaware of the ability to create bespoke reports focused on social media. 

By going to the “source” tab in your Google Analytics dashboard, you can send specialized reports to your team that lets them know how campaigns around keywords are performing. You can also view past campaigns and analyze what has and hasn’t worked in the past. 


Moz is an in-depth SEO toolset with plenty of bells and whistles attached, such as its keyword explore function. Using Moz can give you a better idea about the type of keywords you want your brand to rank for, helping you build an effective strategy in the process. 


One of the primary ways to determine relevant keywords takes place through social listening. Knowing what competitors are talking about will help you shape your strategy. While tools like Google Analytics and Moz can help you find relevant keywords, they don’t offer insights on emerging trends

To stay ahead of the curve, you want to keep your finger on the pulse, which is where Zoomsphere’s social listening feature comes into play. The complex monitoring tool tracks social media comments as well as web mentions. 

The feature allows you to see which keywords are trending and also note any topical words around your brand that you may be unaware of. Users also have the ability to track every web mention based on their chosen keywords. 

Keyword types to look out for

Using tools like social listening helps you determine the type of keywords people search. In the past, many have attributed keywords to either one primary word or a max of three words. Over the last few years, however, long-tail keywords have grown in popularity

What is a long-tail keyword?

Initially, people searched for very vague keywords online. Eg, “shoes in New York” or “cheap flights”. While search terms of that length are still popular, over time, people have become more specific with their search queries.

Searches like “where is the best place in New York to buy Rainbow Stiletto Heel Strappy Sandals ?” or “where is the best place to get peperoni pizza in near me” are becoming increasingly popular.

Search engines also tend to favour these queries, as they place more value in them. That means the brands answering long-tail search terms can increase their visibility in search engine results, both on Google and social media.

Whereas regular keyword searches place more of an emphasis on short-tail keywords, social listening tools monitor actual conversations. The result is language variations that reflect longer search terms, giving you a better idea of your audience’s needs. 

Monitoring the competition 

competition monitoring

All types of keyword research involve some form of monitoring of your competitors, but doing it on social media can really help to give you an edge. These days, there is more access to social media data than in previous years. This allows you to analyze and discover the best-performing content in your industry. 

Once you have an idea of the areas where your competitors are performing well, you can aim to better their content by creating more in-depth and insightful posts. Using data to monitor competitors provides complete insight into trends, how well posts are performing, and content reach. As a result, you get an overview of the entire landscape. 

You can also monitor their social media advertising – find out how to spy on your competitors ads in this article.

Benefits of social media keywords

As a social media marketer, you want to keep track of emerging trends across the web and be part of important conversations. Finding the right keywords is the first part of achieving better social results. But monitoring those keywords and knowing what your audience is talking about will also help you adapt. 

Being the first to respond to a conversation picking up steam could be the difference between your brand being seen as a thought leader or one trying to curtail onto an emerging trend. The best brands are proactive rather than reactive. Researching social media keywords is the best way to shape the dialogue.