(This post contains affiliate links. Read my full disclosure.)
If you’re not using social listening tools as part of your social media monitoring efforts, your brand might be literally deaf.
An important part of social media and digital marketing is knowing where your brand stands at any one time on any given social media platform.
Are people aware you exist? What’s your competition doing? Has one of your past marketing efforts backfired somehow? Why do people prefer your brand (or the competition) so strongly? Is your content getting any engagement–and if so, which social media channels are the source of it?
These are some of the important questions we all need to answer to improve our social mentions and expand our brand awareness.
One of the best ways to get answers is through social listening.
Since this is such a labor-intensive job when attempted by hand, developers have come up with tools to help. Here are some of the best options.
AgoraPulse is a social media listening tool that focuses on streamlining the monitoring of social posts while allowing brands to speak to and interact with brands and mentions directly. AgoraPulse is an ideal social media monitoring tool, because it allows brands to keep a close eye on all brand mentions and directly engage with them–something that not only improves brand awareness but also allows you to stay relevant in the face of fierce competition and aggressive marketing strategy efforts.
Pricing: AgoraPulse offers a free 30-day trial for new users, and prices move up after the conclusion of that trial. The pricing tiers are constructed according to team size: small teams are billed at a rate of $79/month, larger teams are billed at a rate of $159/month, and more substantial teams are billed according to their specific size and needs.
One of the things that sets Awario apart is that it monitors everything. This doesn’t just include social media and popular review sites, but also everywhere on the Web, including news sites and blogs to create a comprehensive overview of information, including a sentiment analysis. Why? Their proprietary web crawlers search for keywords and hashtags wherever they might be found, not just where there’s an API. This is advantageous for smaller businesses doing market research for an expansion, but it’s also highly useful to a global brand who must respond to customer complaints in any language.
How does this work? Sign up, then choose the keywords to monitor. Awario advertises that they send you alerts in real time, which allows you to do customer service through social media. This way, you can have a staff member who addresses issues as they arise. You’ll only be limited by the working hours for your staff.
Pricing: Starter plan is $29 per month; $89/mo for pro and $299 at enterprise level.
Brand24 is a good, basic social monitoring tool. Here, they don’t have a ton of bells and whistles. You’ll set a “project” for monitoring, which can be time limited or ongoing. For your own brand, ongoing is better. It’s a nice Boolean-style setup that lets you exclude irrelevant material. Then, using AI-based technology, Brand24 looks all over the Web for your target keywords. There are integrations for team productivity tools, such as Slack, that facilitate customer service responses.
What’s different? The way reporting is done. Rather than cram your feed with all the results jumbled together, they actively mark which results are positive, negative, or neutral. This saves you time. Even better, they have a visual reporting system that puts analytics into charts and statistics. At the end, you get a report called “social reach,” which helps you get an overall view of how well you are doing in social media posts.
Pricing: Basic plan is $49 per month, Premium $99 and Max $199.
If all you want is a social listening tool, then Brandwatch might be overkill. That’s because this is a platform for market research and consumer intelligence, not just a social listening program. However, if you want a lot of information in one place, then Brandwatch might be for you. In fact, this is really a social media management platform, because the main limitation of Brandwatch is that it mostly monitors social media profiles rather than all types of social media presences and other important mentions.
Another advantage to Brandwatch is that it has several integrations available. Since Brandwatch bought some other companies, they have a broad presence across the Web using those other tools. In the end, the main reason to get this one is its ability to give impactful insights about various parties. These can be brands, but also people and topics. Overall, a great way to carry out market research and strategic planning.
Pricing: no information available.
Buffer is a large-scale tool that allows you take on engaging with a target audience, engagement rates, social media strategy, and more. Buffer offers basic monitoring of social channels in order to improve engagement rates and inform your content creation efforts across your own social channels. Buffer is far more than a social media monitoring tool, however, because it allows you to strategize, plan, and carry out all of your social media activities from a single space, acting as a “buffer” between you and your social channels.
Pricing: Buffer does offer a free option with limited tools, as well as a $5 per month option, which allows you to monitor, plan, and complete a competitor analysis, industry trend search, an more in order to make sure you are keeping the attention of potential customers.
Speaking of Brandwatch purchases: one of them is Buzzsumo. This is a comprehensive social listening tool that also has an emphasis on influencer marketing. They will help you find influencers by identifying people with appropriate brand affinity and social conversations. In addition, significant analytics capabilities help determine the level of effectiveness you are having with influencer campaigns by completing both a sentiment analysis and image analysis of the accounts and brands being reviewed.
Fortunately, you don’t need to work with influencers to benefit from using Buzzsumo. That’s because they carefully listen to social traffic and give actionable insights into overall consumer sentiment. You can then let the PR department deal with any dumpster fires, or market to a certain segment of the population more intelligently. Launching a new product? You’ll quickly find out how successful your marketing is, even before sales numbers start rolling in, by evaluating engagement rate and more.
Pricing: 30-day free trial, then there are 4 plans: Pro ($99/mo), Plus ($179/mo), Large ($299/mo), and Enterprise ($499/mo). Yearly pay discounts are available.
Digimind is a multipurpose social media marketing tool that does social listening and much more. Even their social listening-only functionalities offer an AI-based assistant that can actually recommend courses of action based on information gathered. For the solo marketing practitioner, this is especially valuable, as the assistant helps you do the thinking. Of course, larger teams can also benefit. ON request, the AI assistant, will compile reports with the data supporting recommended courses of action to improve social engagement and effectively support your social platforms.
Once you have a few marketing campaigns underway, Digimind will help you track the results. This not only includes social listening impacts, but also ROI statistics. Then, you can export these reports to share with the boss or other teams. Want search engine trends and other enterprise-level tools? You can get those, too.
Pricing: Only on request.
Falcon.io is a comprehensive social listening platform that monitors the “social web” in addition to just the networks. In addition, the program speaks most major world languages for a worldwide impact. This means that it’s useful for multinational brands, and not just those with a single-language presence. For tourism and hospitality, this is especially useful due to the wide variety of languages spoken by guests who may then talk about their experiences.
Besides this multilingual monitoring capability, Falcon lets you design and carry out campaigns using the platform. This includes both scheduling and monitoring of campaign results. Because of this, you don’t need as many tools outside of Falcon. Finally, this tool both monitors trends and helps with influencer identification. For that reason, it is useful for multiple segments of the marketing department, including direct messages and engagement.
Pricing: Multiple plans available, starting at $129 monthly for a limited-feature version. Other prices unavailable.
Hootsuite is another tool that is not relegated entirely to social listening, but that offers a range of tools that allow brands to operate from a single, multi-use platform. Hootsuite can be used to manage all of your social media content a social media campaign. Hootsuite allows you tailor all of your social media tools toward improving your reach, increasing social media engagement, and even expanding your social audiences. Hootsuite provides audience insights, listening tools, analytics, trend evaluations, and more, to provide a single-use tool for all social media content needs. From sourcing relevant keywords to pinpointing industry leaders and prompting online conversations, Hootsuite is an invaluable tool for companies and brands.
Pricing: There are 4 pricing options available for businesses new to Hootsuite. The first is $49 per month, the next is $129 per month, the next is $599 per month, and the final tier is only priced upon request. The monthly price for each plan is determined based on an annual plan.
Hubspot is actually a CRM, or a customer relationship management, software. That being said, Hubspot absolutely can be used to prompt social media discussions and improve your reach across social sites. Hubspot achieves this by including a host of different tools within a single platform. Hubspot is used as a marketing tool, a a sales and service tool, and a content management tool, all of which can be used together to improve content performance. Regardless of precisely how Hubspot is marketed, it can be an incredibly powerful tool in the arsenal of anyone looking to improve online reach and boost brand-relevant conversations.
Pricing: Because Hubspot encompasses such a large number of software options, the pricing varies substantially. For bundles linking several different “hubs,” monthly billing starts at $45 and reaches all the way up to $4,000 per month.
Unlike most tools that work based on keywords, Keyhole is hashtag-based. In addition, the site indicates that its listening ability is concentrated on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. On Facebook, hashtag use is less common, so this may affect results. That’s not to say you shouldn’t think about using it, though. Keyhole is an easy-to-use tool that lets you see what people are saying on most social media sites. Combined with other information, this can be very useful to us as marketers.
Besides straight-up listening, Keyhole also provides social media analytics. These can be applied not just for positive vs. negative sentiment, but also marketing campaign effectiveness. Information can be imported from other locations, which will allow for historical data to be compared in-app. Best of all, new information is provided in real time, allowing for campaign adjustments.
Pricing: Starting at $49 or $59 monthly, depending on desired functionalities.
Having been in business for almost 20 years, Meltwater is one of the original Internet monitoring services. Back this far, it predates most social media applications. Not only do they listen on social media, but they also monitor blogs, media outlets, and review sites. This means that Meltwater is an excellent choice if you want comprehensive analytics of your brand’s online presence and overall sentiment.
Another thing Meltwater can help you with is directly contacting the media and influencers. Then, you can schedule and publish things across the Web at the touch of a button. In other words, it lets you reach out rather than simply monitoring.
Pricing: No information available.
Mention is a lot more than just a social listening tool. In fact, it’s a complete social media marketing suite. They listen across multiple social media platforms, but also monitor the press, blogs, review sites, and more. For Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram, Mention has additional tools to help filter through and analyze results. In this sense, they are a lot more than just a way to find out what people are saying about your brand , competitors, and industry. Like most other tools, they send prompt alerts with the latest intelligence.
However, Mention goes a step further because they let you publish marketing materials directly to the Web. Many campaigns can even be produced directly in the app. In this way, you can avoid having to manage a whole bunch of other tools just to get the basics done.
Pricing: Plans range from individual entrepreneurs ($25/mo) all the way to large company accounts (upwards of $450/mo).
Mentionlytics is another full-service social listening tool and marketing suite. However, it is geared towards people with fewer marketing needs, such as small businesses and public figures. This means that your influencer or State Representative might be using it. Accordingly, this is a scaled down version of some other tools.
With Mentionlytics, you get insight into your market and basic social monitoring/listening services. In addition, there is a social media scheduler that lets you set and forget your weekly posts. This works on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, but you can integrate with Buffer to schedule on other networks. Finally, there’s an AI based advisor that helps meet the needs of marketing beginners and small players.
Pricing: Plans range from $39 to $299 per month, depending on your needs and business size.
As its name suggests, this company is the product of a merger. NetBase is more social media oriented, while Quid is focused more on media monitoring. From viewing its website, it appears that NetBase Quid offers a wide variety of products to suit your needs. Want something comprehensive? You’ll want to purchase products from both suites.
Of course, this does have one distinct advantage: You’ll come fairly close to paying only for what you need. Many competitors don’t offer this level of flexibility. Another plus is that some products in their portfolio are geared towards small businesses and entrepreneurs, while others are supercharged for large companies.
Pricing: No public information.
While you probably know that SEMrush is one of the leading SEO tools, did you know that they also offer social media monitoring, as well as brand monitoring across the Internet?
SEMrush really is a relatively complete online marketing suite. There’s a social media listening component, but the program does much more. They will help you with SEO, PPC campaigns, and all forms of social media marketing. In addition, they provide content optimization and complete analytics. You can even publish content directly from the app. SEMrush has a plan for freelancers and solopreneurs, as well. Overall, it remains one of the most versatile tools on the market.
Pricing: Ranges from $99.95-$399.95 per month. Note that competitive analysis is an added charge.
Social Mention is one of the few absolutely free tools on this platform. If you are looking for a place to begin social listening, you can’t go wrong with Social Mention, which allows you to search for information about a given keyword everywhere outside of social media including blogs, microblogs, bookmarks, comments, events, images, news, video, audio and Q&A sites.
The issue with a free platform is that is hard to understand how they stay in business and therefore how reliable the results are. Therefore, I would recommend that you use with caution knowing that the results you see might be a subset of reality (and if the developer of the app reads this and thinks differently, please let me know!).
Despite its being one of the original AI-based digital marketing tools, Socialbakers didn’t release their social listening functionality until recently. In practice, it means that this tool is more valuable than ever, with its all-in-one social media marketing functionalities. Another thing that sets Socialbakers apart is that it also does influencer marketing in-app. Overall, Socialbakers has a plethora of campaign planning, execution, and marketing tools that provide significant value to marketers.
Pricing: Their “essential tools” plan, which doesn’t include social listening, starts at $240 per month. Their more comprehensive plan has no pricing available online.
Sprinklr has an emphasis on customer experience and uses social listening as a means to this end. They combine social listening and other business intelligence sources to help you design and execute new marketing campaigns to increase customer satisfaction. At the same time, your customer experience and other analytics-based departments can take advantage of this tool. They’ll even help you manage social media accounts.
Pricing: No information available.
Sprout Social is a social media management tool rather than a listening-focused tool, though it does have listening functions. Sprout Social is among the original powerhouse social media tools, though its initial claim to fame had far more to do with its scheduling and management abilities rather than its planning or implementing tools. Nevertheless, Sprout Social has added listening to its offerings, and is now a single platform capable of engaging, planning, publishing, analyzing, and listening. This makes it something of a one-stop-shop for social media marketers.
Pricing: There are 3 pricing tiers offered by Sprout Social: the standard, at $89 per month, the professional, at $149 per month, and the advanced, at $249 per month.
If you are a larger brand or have significant overseas operations, check out Synthesio. They brag about monitoring sources in a whopping 195 different countries and over 80 languages. The other thing to note is that they are strictly a social intelligence provider, so they do one main thing very well. For added benefit, check out their Trend Detection Module, which provides AI-based market research from social media sources.
Pricing: No information available.
Brands that are worried about online reviews should check out Talkwalker. Besides their review tracker, Talkwalker proves versatile through its ability to interpret a wide variety of foreign languages. They also provide analysis of video content, which is fairly unique on the market. Higher service tiers provide analytics and market research functionalities. From what we have seen, this isn’t a tool that’s geared toward small businesses. Rather, they seem to be focusing on large enterprises.
Pricing: Starts at $9,000 per year (upfront fee). Higher tiers are available “on request.”
As its name suggests, TweetDeck is Twitter-specific. Because Twitter is an old school social media network, they have, through purchasing TweetDeck, built in analytics and targeting tools that help marketers know what’s going on at the click of a button. Set your alerts, then organize them into columns. Then, you can get the information you need at a glance. No wonder it’s such a popular Twitter client!
Keeping track of what people are saying about you and your brands online is a daunting task. After all, there are several social media sites in each country, and millions of other sources on the Web. Trying to keep track of everything by hand is almost impossible. Fortunately, there are a wide variety of tools available to help. They have different features, and one is available to fit almost any budget. By taking a look at these options, you are sure to find just the right one.
Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash
Social Listening Tools FAQs
Here is the list of some social listening tools:
These are some social listening strategies to keep in mind:
1. Consistently monitor all brand mentions and engage with them.
2. Study and know your audience’s needs and language
3. Keep track of your social media campaigns
4. Find the right influencers to represent your brand
5. Don’t forget to include relevant keywords in your content
Check these tips on developing social listening tools:
1. Determine your goals
2. Draft a campaign and engagement plan
3. Identify your audience demographics and needs
4. Choose the best social media network
5. Track your results
Yes, Buffer is a social listening tool. It allows users monitoring of their social media channels, strategize and execute campaigns, and even let you analyze your competitor (paid option). There are quite helpful features that Buffer has which helps users to know their target audience well, engage with them effectively, and get the attention of prospective customers.
Your product and service were created mainly to cater to your audience’s needs. And there’s nothing more important than your audience/customers. Social listening is important because it helps you understand your customer’s needs better, engage with them, learn more about the industry, and hire influencers and brand ambassadors that can best represent your brand voice.