Once a fad for college kids, social media has since become an irreplaceable part of every brand’s marketing strategy. But social media in 2022 is about far more than what your team is posting. If you don’t have an in-depth understanding of how your audience is reacting to your brand, you can’t serve them with the right content to drive engagement - and ultimately conversions.
Because emotions are the single biggest influence on consumer decision-making. To be customer-centric, brands need to understand how people feel and what’s driving those emotions.
This is where social media listening comes into the picture. By gathering valuable insights into what your followers are saying and feeling at the highest level, you can design a roadmap to building a stronger, more responsive brand.
In this blog, we’re going to cover a mix of the best paid and free social media listening tools on the market to help your brand to take social media listening to the next level (and of course, how Zavy can help!)
Social listening is a strategy to help businesses understand what consumers think and feel about their brand. By closely monitoring social media channels for direct brand mentions, reviews, relevant keywords, and competitor activity, businesses can gain a deeper understanding of how their target audience is reacting to their content.
Armed with this information, it becomes possible for brands to respond in a variety of ways, from literal replies to customers on social media to tweaking their overall branding and marketing strategy.
But to get actionable insights from social listening, you need the assistance of a social media listening tool. Heads up, we do mention our own social listening tool, Radar, here, but in a non-biased way (we promise). We also introduce all the other popular listening tools to help you consider all your options. Here is a round-up of our top picks:
Get ahead of the conversation with Radar: a searchable, real-time social listening tool that shows what your target audience is talking about online and how they feel about it through sentiment analysis. With live data from hundreds of thousands of news stories and millions of social posts, it helps you understand how your audience is feeling right now and what messages are landing well.
Radar scrapes public Facebook posts and uses AI to analyse blogs and news articles to provide insights on emotion (e.g. happy, sad, anger, disgust) and sentiment (positive/negative) across content and topics.
With Radar, you can begin to anticipate what content will resonate most strongly with your audience, and get ahead of trending topics. Our clients use Radar to optimise messaging, and stay relevant.
Zavy’s CEO, David Bowes, gives a brief intro to the tool below:
Considered by many to be the successor of Google Alerts, Talkwalker offers a set of free social media listening tools separate from the paid Talkwalker brand monitoring platform. It offers a great starting point for businesses who are new to social media listening and want to gain an understanding of the hashtags and mentions relevant to their brand.
Talkwalker Social Search allows brands to track brand mentions across the web and social media for a solid overview of what your target audience is talking about. Searches can be determined by location, language, media type, sentiment, and more for a flexible approach to listening.
One of the earliest entrants into the marketplace, Brand24 offers keyword tracking across a wide spectrum of social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, YouTube, and Twitch. The flexible project set-up allows for social media listening across more than one brand, or individual projects for monitoring specific brand awareness campaigns.
In addition to social media channels, Brand24 also offers these capabilities for news sites, blogs, review sites, and more, which is helpful for your broader PR efforts. Their in-depth analytics tool allows a deep look into brand mentions, such as the reach and engagement rates of individual comments and reviews, allowing you to track your most influential customers with ease.
There’s a reason why HootSuite continues to be a popular social media listening tool. With a similar interface to project management platforms such as Trello or Asana, Hootsuite makes it easy to keep tabs on activity across multiple social media accounts.
The true power of HootSuite lies within its Streams tool. Marketers can set up multiple ‘streams’ for each channel to track different social listening metrics such as branded hashtags, competitor mentions, or keywords that are important to your social media listening strategy.
In addition to the regular Hootsuite platform, the Hootsuite Insights tool powered by Brandwatch offers another layer of advanced social listening capabilities.
Mention offers a full suite of social listening capabilities across four key features: Alerts, Monitoring, Listening, and Publishing. Brands can save filtered searches for easy access to their most important keywords and branded terms, while integrations with platforms such as Slack, Buffer, and Zapier make it easy to streamline the management of your social channels.
As well as its paid version, Mention offers a robust free social media listening tool that also includes scheduling capabilities. This makes it a great option for startup brands that are wanting an all-round social media management solution.
Sprout Social is one of the most comprehensive social media management tools available. In 2017, they expanded their capabilities further with the acquisition of the social media listening tool Simply Measured. This has made Sprout Social a fantastic all-in-one platform for a full spectrum of social media needs.
Their wide range of social media listening, analysing, and reporting tools allow businesses to not only take the pulse of their target audience, but also organise these findings into easy-to-digest reports for stakeholders and managers.
Awario is a specialised social media listening tool that offers powerful sentiment analysis across multiple languages and locations. In-depth conversation tracking makes it easy to manage multiple brand mentions or keywords at once for brand awareness campaigns.
In addition to listening to activity across social media channels, Awario also offers these capabilities for the wider web. This is valuable for brands who are interested in taking their brand listening capabilities to the next level as their audience grows.
Agorapulse is an end-to-end social media management tool with a robust social listening feature built into the heart of the platform, rather than as a separate add-on. This means streamlined reporting and easy organisation of brand mentions and reviews.
Agorapulse’s biggest strength as a social media listening and management tool is its inbox. All brand mentions, DM, and comments across platforms automatically filter into one interface, saving you from having to check each social media account individually. This is particularly useful for brands who have a large following across multiple channels, and therefore more activity to track.
In addition to social media listening, Audiense’s advanced audience segmentation tools assist brands with determining who their audience is and what sort of content/comments they will engage with the most.
This valuable application of social listening, combined with Audiense’s unique influencer identification tool, enables brands to build a natural feedback loop to refine their social listening strategy.
On top of its regular listening tool, Audiense also offers a dedicated Twitter listening and monitoring tool that takes advantage of the platform’s generous API. This includes custom chatbots, competitor analysis, and community insights.
The best social media listening tool for your business will depend on your unique needs and what social media capabilities you already have. That is to say, there’s no clear winner here.
At the most basic level, you have a choice between a standalone social media listening tool, like Talkwalker Social Search, or subscribing to a full-fledged social media insights platform with listening capabilities, such as Zavy.
While keeping scheduling, analytics, and listening all in one place can be an advantage, a social listening tool allows you to keep your listening projects in one place and compartmentalise the work of your marketing team.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that most listening tools will charge a higher cost depending on the number of user seats you require. The more capabilities your tool offers, the more user seats you’ll need to account for the roles of different team members.
Free social media listening tools do offer a great starting point to grow accustomed to having social listening in your workflow. However, they don’t offer a reliable long-term solution because of limited features or caps on searches and alerts. Moreover, it’s not unusual for the capabilities of free tools to dwindle as social media algorithms undergo updates.
No matter what platform you ultimately select, make sure you understand from the outset what mentions and keywords your business needs to track. Every social media listening tool has to cut through a lot of noise to find relevant data, so the more precise and targeted your searches are, the more valuable the results.
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