It's easy to feel overwhelmed by all the noise on social media. From big brands to startup businesses, everyone is trying to get their messages heard.

The good news is that a social listening platform can help you cut through the clutter and track what consumers are saying about your brand online. So you don’t have to find them manually.

The top social listening tools make it easy for you to track, analyze, and respond to customer conversations in real-time. They help you identify the best opportunities for marketing, customer service, new product development, PR, and more.

And social listening is one way that companies can avoid costly mistakes like Pepsi did with their Kendall Jenner ad.

As soon as their ad sparked backlash, Pepsi pulled the ad from the air and YouTube, and immediately released an apology saying, “the company missed the mark.”

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Taking quick action helped the company minimize harm to their brand sentiment and avoid lasting backlash. The brand also learned the lesson to not use cultural movements or social issues to sell soft drinks.

Want to learn more about the role of social listening in business growth?

In this post, I’ll help you understand social listening in depth – what it is, why it matters, and how to do it right. I’ll also review the key features and pros and cons of the top seven social listening platforms for you.

Keep reading…

What is Social Listening?

Social listening is the process of using social media platforms to monitor the mentions of your brand, your product, or your competitors. It gives you the ability to track, analyze, and respond to conversations about your brand on social media.

Social listening is a way to keep tabs on the online reputation of your business, identify potential marketing opportunities, and gauge customer sentiment.

Along with monitoring customer conversations, it can also help you conduct competitor analysis and identify opportunities to make your brand stand out against your competitors.

You may also like: 21 Competitor Analysis Tools

Social Media Listening vs. Social Media Monitoring

While some marketers use the terms, “social listening” and “social media monitoring” interchangeably, they are slightly different.

Social media monitoring includes collecting data on:

  • How many times was your brand mentioned?
  • Who mentioned it?
  • What is your overall brand awareness quotient?

Whereas, social media listening (or social listening) is all about analyzing and understanding this collected data to figure out the best ways to grow your brand.

It includes answering key questions like:

  • Who is talking about your brand?
  • How are they talking about your brand (positively or negatively)?
  • What are the trends you should worry about?
  • What can you do best to keep your customers and make them happy?
  • How does your brand compare to your competitors?
  • What elements or competitive advantages are your products missing?

In this post, I’ll review the top social listening tools. Meanwhile, you may also want to check out some of the best social media monitoring tools.

Why Does Social Listening Matter?

Social media listening is an important part of any business' online marketing strategy.

By monitoring the conversations happening online, you can understand what people think and how they feel about your brand. This will help you deliver better products, services, and experiences to your customers and prospects.

Let’s take a look at a few key reasons why social listening matters.

Understand Your Customers Better

Social listening is the key to audience research and audience sentiment analysis.

By analyzing what people are saying about your brand online, you can get a better understanding of who your customers are, what they want, and how they feel about your business.

You can then use these key consumer insights to improve everything from your marketing to your customer service.

Capitalize on Marketing Opportunities

Using powerful tools with social listening capabilities can help you identify and capitalize on marketing opportunities.

By tracking what people are saying about your brand online, you can find new areas for growth and expansion.

You might discover that there's a trend in customer sentiment that presents an opportunity for a new product or campaign. Or, maybe you'll see a wave of positive sentiment around one of your products that makes now the right time to launch a new ad, PR campaign, or social media update.

You can also track social insights about other small or new businesses in your niche. Conducting market research will help you identify trending topics and products along with ways to stand out against your competitors.

Avoid Costly Mistakes

Regular social media monitoring and listening can help you avoid costly mistakes by identifying crises early and preventing them from having bad effects in the long run.

For example, social listening helped Pepsi quickly realize that their Kendall Jenner ad was being strongly criticized. It allowed them to take the ad down within 24 hours and also release an apology on social media to prevent damage to their reputation.

The company tracked down all the conversations related to their ad and responded to several of them humbly. Their gesture was appreciated by many people.

Provide Better Customer Service

Listening to your customers on social media is one of the most effective ways to improve your customer experience and reduce the churn rate.

You’ll be shocked to know that one-third of all customer complaints don’t get answered, most of which are on social media.

Answering a complaint can help you increase customer advocacy by 25% whereas not responding to them can decrease customer advocacy by 50%.

So you can not only deliver better experiences but also increase customer engagement, advocacy, and loyalty with social media listening.

Identify Influencers Who Love Your Brand

By tracking your brand’s social mentions, you can find out who's talking about your business online. This can be especially helpful when you're trying to identify and work with influencers who already like your products or brand.

You can leverage influencer marketing to reach new customers, increase product sales, and boost your brand awareness.

Also read: What is a Brand Influencer and Why Do You Need One?

The Top Social Listening Platforms You Can Use

Social listening is a must for brands today. And to ensure that you never miss a relevant conversation about your brand, I’d like to introduce you to the top social media monitoring and listening platforms in the market today.

Let me show you how each of these social media listening tools can help you collect social and online data, monitor brand mentions, identify potential customer service issues, understand your customers' needs and wants, and track your brand's online reputation.

Here are some of the most efficient social listening platforms reviewed – along with their key features, pricing details, and competitive advantages:

1. Signals by Tagger

Signals by Tagger is a social media monitoring and engagement platform that allows you to track, analyze, and react to what people are saying about your business online.

It offers a variety of features, including the ability to monitor social media channels, review sites, blogs, and forums as well as track brand mentions and keywords.

Key Features

  • Track conversations that mention your brand across multiple platforms.
  • Monitor mentions from social media, review sites, and blogs.
  • Gain social media insights about your competitors and compare your brand against them to see how you stack up against the competition.
  • Track sentiment, including positive and negative feedback on a variety of topics that are relevant to your industry or business area.
  • Identify influencers by finding users with meaningful influence over the conversations about your brand online.
  • Find content creators with a style similar to the look and feel of your branded content.
  • Measure the performance of your sponsored vs. organic content.

Pros
Provides a wide range of features, including content moderation and influencer tracking.
Integrates with most popular social media channels.

Cons
Some monitoring tools offered by the platform are limited to paid users only.

Pricing
You can request a demo through their website and ask for a custom pricing quote from their team.

2. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management platform that allows businesses to track, analyze, and respond to what people are saying about them online.

It offers a variety of features, including the ability to monitor social media channels, review sites, blogs, and forums to help you track brand mentions, hashtags, and keywords.

You can also use Hootsuite Insights, powered by Brandwatch, to gain deeper insights that can help you make better business decisions.

Key Features

  • Track all conversations about key topics and industry trends.
  • Track the performance of your social media posts and brand mentions.
  • Monitor competitor activities across social channels to get valuable insights into what’s working for them and what isn’t.

Pros

  • Integrations with top social media listening tools like Talkwalker and Brandwatch.
  • A few useful social listening features are available with the free version too.

Cons
The platform can be a little overwhelming because it is so feature-rich.

Pricing

  • It offers a 30-day free trial.
  • Plans start from $29 per month for small businesses and go up to enterprise plans for $600+ per month.

3. Awario

Awario is one of the most affordable social listening platforms on the market. It provides a wide range of features, including sentiment analysis and influencer identification.

This social media listening tool helps you track mentions on Twitter, YouTube, Reddit, blogs, forums, news sites, and many other sources on the web. So you’ll be able to track all relevant conversations about your product, brand, and industry.

Key Features

      • Find conversations about your keyword in real time. It could be a word related to your product, brand, industry-specific topic, your competitors, or anything else.
      • Track and analyze mention sentiment and reach.
      • Create custom reports with actionable insights for your marketing team.
      • Answer customer requests or complaints in-app, follow up on positive and negative comments, and build meaningful relationships on social media.
      • Track relevant mentions to identify industry leaders and other social media influencers who can help you promote your products and services to their followers.

Pros

      • Very competitive pricing plans – starting from $39 per month.
      • Extensive feature set that includes content moderation, influencer tracking, and real-time alerts.

Cons
Doesn't offer as many integrations as some of the other platforms on this list.

Pricing

      • A free trial is available.
      • Paid plans start from $39/month for a professional and go up to $399/month for companies with unlimited users.

4. Sprout Social

Sprout Social is a social media management platform that allows businesses to uncover critical business insights, identify industry gaps, and improve overall brand reputation.

It offers a variety of features, including the ability to monitor conversations, social engagement, competitor activities, and more.

Key Features

      • Access valuable industry, brand, and competitive insights.
      • Track conversations about topics relevant to your brand and industry to help you analyze consumer sentiment.
      • Keep up with industry trends.
      • Identify and work with relevant influencers and industry experts to grow your brand’s presence.
      • Gather true customer feedback and use it for new product development and product differentiation.
      • Organize and share intuitive reports with easy-to-consume visual insights.

Pros

      • A very user-friendly platform with advanced analytics and features like a Smart Inbox for real-time brand monitoring.
      • In-depth education materials to make the most of this platform.

Cons

      • More expensive than other platforms on this list.
      • Several people have reported a lack of instant support from their team. They may take quite a while to respond.

Pricing

      • It offers a 30-day free trial.
      • Plans start from $89/user/month for 5 social profiles only.

5. Brandwatch

Brandwatch is more than just a social listening tool. It is a consumer intelligence platform with sentiment analysis and auto-segmentation capabilities.

This social listening tool offers a variety of features, including sentiment analysis, influencer identification, and media monitoring.

Key Features

      • Discover new industry trends before anyone else.
      • Gain unique insights that can help you get a competitive edge.
      • Protect your brand from potential threats by responding with speed and confidence before problems develop.
      • Benchmark your performance against that of your competitors.

Pros

      • The best customer intelligence platform that can help you understand your consumers at every touchpoint.
      • Provides the most historical and real-time consumer data.
      • 50+ live visualizations to help you efficiently analyze data.

Cons
Sentiment classification can be a bit inaccurate sometimes. For example, the tool is not very efficient at classifying funny and sarcastic remarks.

Pricing
Contact their team for pricing plans.

6. Mention

The next one on our list of the best social listening tools is Mention. It allows you to conduct web monitoring, listen to your audience, and analyze the social media activities of your competitors.

Key Features

      • Monitor conversations from over 1 billion sources on the web.
      • Uncover trends in conversations across social networks like Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.
      • Analyze your competitors and get insights into their social media audience sentiment.
      • Catch and respond to a crisis before it gets out of hand.
      • Build your social media strategy based on audience insights and market trends across social networks.

Pros

      • Easy-to-use dashboard and accurate results.
      • Provides a daily summary to help you see conversations about your product, keyword, or brand across all major social networks.
      • It gives an option to exclude monitoring by language and country so you get notifications about targeted mentions only.

Cons
More social networks coverage is only available with higher-priced plans.

Pricing

      • A free plan is available.
      • Paid plans start from $29/month for solopreneurs and other professionals.
      • For better alerts and access to unlimited users, you will need to switch to higher-priced plans starting at $199 per month.

7. Brand24

Brand24 is one of the best brand monitoring tools on the market. It offers a variety of features, including sentiment analysis and real-time alerts.

And the best part?

You can try it free for 14 days without entering your credit card details.

Key Features

      • Automated advanced sentiment analysis to segment positive, negative, and neutral mentions.
      • Get instant alerts about negative mentions to curb the adverse effect before it gets out of hand.
      • Learn what people like and dislike about your product and company.
      • Save time using its downloadable daily and weekly reports.
      • Track hashtags and measure the number of mentions with a particular hashtag.

Pros

      • Fast, professional, and reliable customer support
      • Easy-to-use interface with clear sections and comprehensive social listening features

Cons

      • A bit more expensive than other solutions listed as the best social listening tools.
      • Reports could be more detailed.

Pricing

      • A 14-day free trial is available.
      • Plans start from $49 per month for up to 2k mentions/month and go up to $249 per month for up to 100k mentions/month.

Best Practices for Social Listening

Now that you understand why social listening is important, let's take a look at how to do it right. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you get started with social listening:

      • Get the basics right. Make sure the social listening tools you use are accurate, reliable, and up to date.
      • It's not just about listening. In many cases, the insights that social data can provide should inform everything from your marketing campaigns to PR strategies. Don't limit yourself to responding to customer conversations or complaints.
      • Be proactive. You don't want to be always one step behind what people are saying about your company. It’s easy to miss out on opportunities if you don’t listen and don’t act fast enough.
      • Track negative as well as positive mentions of your product and brand. Don't ignore the bad news – it's equally important for spotting potential problems and identifying areas with scope for improvement.
      • Choose the right tools. There are a number of different social listening tools out there, so take the time to find one that's right for your business. It needs to be accurate, easy-to-use, and provide you with all of the necessary data (volume, sentiment, etc).
      • One of the best ways to start social listening is to set up alerts for key terms and phrases. By setting up alerts, you can easily track your brand name and key products as well as any negative sentiment about the company or its competitors.
      • Monitor multiple channels at once. While social media is a great place to start monitoring customer feedback, it's also important to monitor other areas like review sites, community forums, press releases, and blogs.

FAQs

1. Why is social listening so important?
Social listening is important because it allows you to proactively monitor conversations about your product and brand and respond to them.

You can use social listening to:

      • Learn more about your target audience and market.
      • Discover leads.
      • Increase social media engagement.
      • Identify top influencers and potential brand ambassadors.
      • Identify and prevent crisis situations before they happen.
      • Improve your marketing and sales strategy with real-time consumer insights.

2. What is a social listening tool?
A social listening tool is a software solution that tracks and analyzes online conversations about a brand, a specific topic, keyword, product name, or anything else related to a particular company.

Brands and marketers use social listening tools to find mentions of their products and services and analyze the overall brand sentiment.

3. What are the top social listening tools?
The top social listening tools are:

      • Signals by Tagger
      • Hootsuite
      • Awario
      • Sprout Social
      • Mention
      • Brand24
      • Brandwatch

4. How can I use social listening effectively?
To make the most out of social listening, you should:

      • Set alerts for the right words, hashtags, and topics.
      • Choose the right social media platforms to listen to conversations about your brand or industry. For example, people may be talking about you all the time on Twitter but not on LinkedIn.
      • Narrow your search to track all the mentions from a targeted geographical location or audience demographics.
      • Learn from your competitors by tracking their social mentions and analyzing how they respond to them. It can also help you identify market gaps and deliver what your competitors are missing.

5. Can social listening help you find leads? If so, how?
Yes, social listening can help you find leads. In fact, it is one of the best ways to do so.

By monitoring keywords and phrases related to your industry or product, you can identify potential customers who are discussing their needs and wants online. This will help you learn about the problems they are having in their search for solutions.

You can create a product that addresses their concerns so that you have an edge over your competitors when it comes to targeting.

You can also track your competition to see what products or services they’re offering and how they’re marketing them. This will help you plan your marketing strategy and sales copy in an informed way.

Ready to Get Started with Social Listening?

The term “social listening” may sound like just another buzzword, but it is an essential skill for marketers and entrepreneurs.

Social media has changed the way companies interact with their customers and prospects, which means that social listening can help you know what your target audience wants before they tell you.

And the best part? It's not difficult to do, especially with powerful automated social listening platforms like Signals by Tagger and other tools reviewed in this post.

If you need help understanding your consumers’ needs and wants through social listening, feel free to reach out to my team of experts. We’ll help you shape your marketing strategy and copy to engage your target audience better.