During the pandemic, 50% of marketers turned to social listening to help them understand their consumers’ preferences – and it’s a practice that’s continuing to grow. Social listening tools are transforming marketing, and we have 20 tools that are leading the charge.
The time for social listening tool adoption is now:
- Globally, over 6 billion people use social media and this number projected to increase to 4.41 billion in 2025.
- 63% of social media marketers believe listening will become more important over the upcoming year.
- 96% of unhappy customers won’t tell you directly, but will tell 15 friends – social listening captures these conversations.
- Consumers who feel engaged by brands on social media will spend up to 40% more with them than customers who are left to their own devices.
Additionally, more than 90% of US companies and businesses having 100 employees or more are using social media for marketing their business. If you’re just starting out, you are starting behind, which is why you’ll need the best tools available. Before exploring those, let’s explore what social listening can do for you, specifically.
What is Social Listening and Why Brands Need It
Globally, over 3.6 billion people use social media and it is projected to increase to 4.41 billion in 2025. That’s a lot of consumers not only talking about brands, but having whole conversations on what they want from brands. These conversations are enlightening and act as a guide for campaign planning, product innovation and creating an authentic, personalized experience at every touch point.
With social listening tools, your brand can understand the nuanced, hidden emotions behind consumer purchases, understanding what’s driving them to buy, or identifying what’s holding them back. Pinpointing these things helps a company create a smooth experience for the consumer from start to finish and moves them along the purchase path. And of course, this means increased revenue, and a happy consumer who could be yours for life. Simply put social listening is important because it:
- tracks sentiment to help you safeguard brand health
- identifies content which will help you maximize and meet your engagement goals
- informs campaign design, providing intel for targeted messaging
- reveals what consumers want, providing your brand ideas for conceiving new products for an audience ready to embrace them.
Boiled down, it’s a virtual map showing you which turns to take to get you home the quickest, safest, and most fuel-efficient way.
Now let’s look at those tools that create this amazing guidance system!
1) NetBase Quid
NetBase Quid offers a holistic approach to building, growing and protecting your brand. Whether your end goal is improving brand health, super targeted campaign strategy or next-level product innovation, this consumer and market intelligence platform’s social listening tool capabilities have you covered. It takes brands well beyond basic metrics like reach and brand mentions to uncover what lies beneath. Brands discover why they’re being mentioned, and what is or isn’t resonating. Without it, you’re just fishing blindly and hoping something takes the bait – any bait. With NetBase Quid, you’ll know exactly which bait to cast using capabilities such as:
- Topic comparison – Reveals how are topics trending and which are resonating – and why.
- Competitor analysis – What is your competition doing well, so you can mirror their successes; and where are they struggling? Each offers lessons – and potential consumers to win over.
- Sentiment analysis – Understanding sentiment can be difficult, but NetBase Quid’s sentiment analysis tools drill into the meaning behind the words. Know instantly what your consumer means and how they feel about you, your products or any given topic.
- Demographics and psychographic intel – Who are your consumers beyond surface intel? What are their professions, their hobbies – where do they live? Connecting the dots and identifying similarities and differences is key to creating targeted messaging.
- Image analysis – Many times, consumers will share a picture of your logo, store or products but they won’t necessarily tag you or even name you! A robust image analysis tool keeps brands apprised of these instances, and on top of any brewing concerns.
Social listening tools powered by advanced AI are indispensable, particularly when partnered with complementary options like our next tool on this list – Rival IQ.
Keeping an eye on your competition is good business practice. This way, you can emulate and improve on of all their right moves, while making note of their missteps so you don’t experience the same fate. And being there when they fall short allows you to swoop in on their disgruntled customers and play Perseus to their Andromeda. When done right, it’s a consumer love story that will last.
Rival IQ offers complete competitive analysis capabilities. It is a social listening tool that helps social media professionals maximize their impact with competitive benchmarking, comprehensive analytics, and automated insight generation. And its intuitive software simplifies the analysis and acquisition of billions of social posts, placing social performance in context, and providing answers to the most important social media questions.
Hootsuite gets a lot of mentions when it comes to social listening tools. This is because it acts as a great intro to monitoring your social media and organizing your social posts. From your Hootsuite dashboard, you can plan and schedule social media posts ahead of time. And it offers light analytics tools to help you navigate social media waters, by understanding your post engagements and seeing your follower count.
If you’re new to tracking metrics, they have free classes to help you grasp why it’s important. After all, 63% of social media marketers agree that social listening will become more important over the upcoming year, so you don’t want to be left behind. This tool also integrates with NetBase Quid.
Understanding consumer buying behavior is the key to getting your timing right when advertising and engaging with your customers. Push too hard when they’re not ready to make a purchase, and you could lose them. Google Analytics provides consumer behavior reports so your brand can stay on top of where your consumer is within the purchase funnel. And when using this social listening tool, you can discover what content keeps your users engaged, and identify potential problems and deal with them before they grown too large to handle.
Buffer is known for its scheduling tools but it also offers light social listening tools as well! Discover which posts of yours are garnering the most engagements by using Buffers social analytics tools. Maybe your followers love your videos, in which case, your brand will want to focus on video content creation for maximum results. This isn’t obvious intel without analytics offering an assist. And once you’ve done this, you can track your videos’ reach to get a view of how your content is performing across multiple social media channels all at once to see where your audience is engaging the most – and where your brand should be focusing its efforts.
With F5bot you can track your brand mentions, monitor your current projects and discover the topics that interest your brand, and consumers, the most. Unlike a lot of other simple brand mention tools, this one notifies you instantly, as opposed to gathering it up in a once-a-week email. This enables you to act quickly as consumer trends can change overnight.
Setting keyword alerts is both helpful and smart when it comes to tracking online consumer conversation. Keyword alerts let you know what’s being talked about, what’s trending and if you’re being mentioned. Keeping track of these items allows you to create targeted messaging that hits home with consumers – and all while keeping an eye on your brand perception.
Consumers are talking about you and sometimes they’re not naming you specifically. Instead, they may be using a picture on their Instagram that showcases your product. If your social listening tools don’t have logo recognition (and many do not) you’re missing out on these valuable brand mentions. YouScan’s logo recognition tool allows your company to see how people are talking about you in picture form. It’s also a great tool for seeing how people are using your products. It may be in a way you hadn’t thought of and give you an idea for your next campaign, or even a product improvement.
Digimind helps you compare how your company is doing in different areas. For example, it can showcase and measure your performance when it comes to customer care, value, quality and sustainability, or anything else really. It then puts these in one table so you can see how they measure up, spotting any weak areas. And this allows you to improve your game in very specific, and meaningful, ways.
10) Google Alerts
Google Alerts is not a complete social listening tool. However, when it is used as reference tool to ensure you’re staying on track with what’s important to you – it delivers. Track conversations online across multiple channels and platforms including blogs, by setting alerts for keywords you may be interested in, such as sustainability or equity. You’ll receive ‘as they happen’ or weekly emails which deliver all of these conversations in a bundle for you to click through and read. Used on its own, it’s a simple tool which will be helpful in keeping your brand abreast of any new trends. Used with another social listening tool, it’s a good temperature check to make sure what was trending last week, is still being talked about this week.
This tool helps track urgent or high-risk consumer conversations. It’s fantastic when everyone has nothing but good things to say about you, but if there’s one thing you can count on – it’s this: consumers are fickle. Praises one week can turn into complaints the next. Keep on top of it with BrandsEye’s social listening tool. Once identified, you can deal with it head-on and hopefully turn things around before the negativity spreads too far.
And on that same note, Khoros helps you identify friction as well, and then it goes deeper to reveal what is at the root of it. Understanding why is critical if you hope to change a consumer’s mind. Once a consumer has a bad experience, that information can spread like wildfire – and 96% of unhappy customers won’t tell you directly but will tell 15 friends. Uncovering these online conversations will keep you in the know about what consumers really think of you or your product so that, if need be, you can make some changes for the good of your brand reputation.
A good social listening tool should include influencer marketing. Forty-nine percent of consumers depend on influencers for recommendations. Having one your side could increase brand love, and ultimately your ROI. Keyhole identifies influencers in your industry and then analyzes their accounts pre-agreement so you can see what their organic numbers are. Once you locate an influencer and team up, you can then use Keyhole’s social listening tools to listen in and gauge their performance over time.
There are many tools that focus on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter out there, but Reddit gets left out of many social listening tools. This is unfortunately, as there are 52 million daily users on Reddit and it’s ranked 9th most popular social media app. Notifier focuses specifically on this social channel and alerts you to comments within 30 seconds of them being made. This way you can respond quickly and increase engagement on this channel. And it also tracks keywords for you as well allowing you to stay on top of what’s happening across Reddit – and there’s always a lot happening on Reddit!
Loomly’s social listening tools allow you to track and measure your posts’ performance in real-time. It identifies which campaigns are gaining the most attention and reveals the topics and content which is closest to your consumer’s hearts. You can then use this information to plan accordingly for future posts and campaigns.
This tool is standout because it’s meant for B2B companies – after all businesses are consumers too! From the dashboard, you can measure several social media accounts. Then track mentions to keep up with what your consumers want, handling crisis as they happen, or use another competitor’s crisis to your advantage! You can follow relevant keywords, competitors, or just the industry in general to keep up-to-date on what happening so you never skip a beat.
Tailwind is more like a social media planning tool with light social listening tool capabilities included. It helps you come up with fresh ideas for your posts and then identifies the best time to post them for maximum exposure. Afterwards, you can do a search for best performing hashtags to pair with your post – and then use their analytics to measure engagement.
If you’re a smaller business looking for light social listening tool to give you a better view of how you’re being mentioned online, Notify is for you. This tool not only captures casual mentions but includes consumers actively looking for your brand online. If you know they’re looking, you can then meet them where they are and gently guide them your way! The alerts also work for keywords, hashtags and even competitors.
This is another a great option for smaller brands seeking to enhance their online presence. By setting alerts for brand mentions or keywords, you can be alerted to relevant discussions happening online. Consumers who feel engaged by brands on social media will spend up to 40% more with these brands when contrasted against customers who are left to their own devices. Staying in the know pays off in customer acquisition, customer retention and increased revenue for your brand over time!
If This, Then That isn’t your traditional social listening tool. It’s strength revolves around helping your social platforms “play nicely together.” Use this tool to combine social media platforms with various services and outputs by setting up actions via applets. And as you can choose which applets to add to your dashboard, you can curate your own social listening platform monitoring brand mentions, hashtags, keywords and more. Brands can create blog posts from an Instagram post, for example. It’s a pretty neat tool.
Overall, there’s a lot of valuable consumer intel online if you have the right social listening tools that dig beneath the surface. And if you’re ready to see what lies beneath consumer love, hate, wants and needs, reach out for a demo!