Social listening tools are some of the most important for any social media marketer to master. Why? Simply because of the vast amount of data they provide about your brand, your audience, and your competitors in real time.
Back in the day, marketers had to dedicate substantial budgets to consumer and competitor research through surveys, focus groups, and market testing. Now, all you have to do is set up a social listening tool to track the details that matter most to your brand, and the information comes directly to your computer screen.
Here, we break down 14 of the best social media listening tools, so you can choose the one that makes the most sense for your current needs.
First things first, though. Let’s start by clarifying exactly what we mean when we talk about social listening.
Bonus: Discover the best way to gather insights and intel from your audience, competitors, industry, and favorite aspirational brands in our complete guide to advanced social listening.
Social listening is the practice of using social tools to monitor what people are saying about your brand online. It’s also an important form of competitor research.
It works by tracking mentions (both tagged and untagged) of your brand and your competitors online, along with relevant keywords and hashtags. You can then access all of this information in one place to get both macro and micro views of the social conversation about your industry and your brand.
Here’s a quick video overview:
Want to dive deeper into this subject? We’ve got a whole blog post on what social listening is and why it matters so much for brands.
Social listening tools are tech products — apps and software — designed to seek out the entire social conversation about any topic you choose. For marketers, the subjects of choice are usually their brand, their competitors, and their industry as a whole.
The tools search across multiple social platforms and compile all the relevant social data in one location, so you can get the full picture of what people are saying from just one screen.
One of the greatest benefits of social media for marketers is the ability to understand what people are saying and thinking in real time. Social media listening tools collect that data for you so you always have it at your fingertips.
Here are some key reasons to add social listening tools to your social marketing toolbox:
- Understand what your audience really thinks about you. You already know what customers say in posts where they @mention you. What do they say in the posts where they don’t tag you?
- Find opportunities for authentic engagement. Thank people who mention you or jump in with a useful suggestion. Or just keep an eye on the conversation to understand the social communities where people talk about your brand.
- Identify pain points and new product opportunities. What are people asking for that they can’t find? Maybe you can provide the solution.
- Track social sentiment in real time. If the conversation about your brand starts to skew negative, you can take action before things reach crisis level. If something is going unusually well, you can throw some budget at it to keep riding that wave.
- Identify potential creators to partner with. Social media listening tools help you understand who the big players are in your niche.
- Spot competitor campaigns as they launch. This gives you the chance to analyze potential opportunities and threats just as they start to emerge.
- Get in early on trending topics. From memes to larger social trends, social listening platforms are like an advance alert system for what’s happening in the social sphere.
There are a lot of options out there. Here are our top social listening tools picks for 2024.
Hootsuite actually offers three different social listening features depending on the size of your brand and how much social data you need to analyze. (That’s on top of comprehensive social media management tools, including scheduling to all major network, easy performance tracking, and audience engagement tools.)
Streams are included in all Hootsuite plans, so this social media monitoring tool is available to all Hootsuite users. This is a simple-to-use tool, but that doesn’t mean it’s basic.
Streams are a powerful resource that allows you to build your own custom social listening dashboard. You can monitor keywords, mentions, and hashtags across multiple social platforms. With integrations from the Hootsuite App Directory, you can even monitor conversations on Reddit, Google My Business, and multiple online review sites.
You can respond to any post directly from your dashboard, assign it to another team member, or flag it for follow-up.
Pricing: Starting at $99/month; 30-day free trial.
Insights takes social listening to a deeper level. This makes it a robust tool for market and competitor research.
With embedded sentiment analysis, Hootsuite Insights tells you not just what your audience is saying, but what they’re thinking and feeling. This allows you to deliver what they want from you in near real time. You can even set alerts to be notified of unexpected changes.
It also means you know how your target audience feels about your competitors at any given moment. Has the competition launched a marketing campaign you need to counter? Have they made a fumble you can capitalize on? Hootsuite Insights means you never miss an opportunity to engage.
Hootsuite Insights also includes an AI tool that helps you identify the most important conversations every time.
Insights is available as an add-on to Hootsuite Enterprise plans. Pricing available on request.
Hootsuite Advanced Analytics is primarily a tool for tracking the ROI of your social marketing strategy and the business impact of your social media posts.
But it also contains a competitive analysis component that earns it a spot in our list of social media listening tools.
Hootsuite Advanced Analytics allows you to analyze your competitors’ audience and content strategy on Facebook, Instagram, and X (formerly Twitter). Key social data sources include their audience stats, engagement, and hashtag use.
Advanced Analytics is available as an add-on to Hootsuite Enterprise plans. Pricing available on request.
Brandwatch uses a library of 1.6 trillion historical conversations going back to 2010 to help brands track trends online. More than 500 million new conversations are added every day.
Brandwatch provides access to conversations from more than 100 million sites and has the capability to integrate your own customer data. You can track key social listening metrics like brand awareness, social sentiment, and social share of voice.
For even easier tracking of your social listening queries, you can integrate Brandwatch into your Hootsuite dashboard.
Pricing for this enterprise-level social listening tool is available upon request.
Brand24 is an AI-powered social listening tool that covers the major social platforms as well as blogs, news sites, and other online sources. It allows you to track trends in reach and brand awareness, and to set up alerts for critical notifications.
You can also gain insights into social sentiment. Influence score allows you to identify top influencers and creators in your niche.
Pricing: Starting at $99/month; 14-day free trial.
Digimind expands social listening to 850 million sources, including blogs, forums, and offline sources as well as the major social media platforms. It works in more than 200 languages and features automatic translation.
This social listening tool incorporates AI to analyze trends in mentions and sentiment analysis.
Pricing is available on request.
Talkwalker’s social data library includes more than 150 million sources. With more than 50 advanced filters, you can segment your social data and identify the right audience to monitor.
This powerful social listening tool allows you to understand the full impact of your social conversations by measuring engagement volume, reach, sentiment, and more. It incorporates Blue Silk GPT for AI analysis.
When you integrate Talkwalker into Hootsuite, you can tag, assign, and respond to Talkwalker-identified mentions up to two years old directly within the Hootsuite dashboard.
Pricing: Starting at $800/month.
Mentionlytics monitors keywords in multiple languages across both social and web sources. This social listening tool identifies positive and negative mentions with advanced sentiment analysis.
You can filter your social listening results by keyword, source, country, and language. Mentionlytics also identifies the top influencers in your niche. Mentionlytics integrates into Hootsuite so you can assign and reply to mentions directly from the Hootsuite dashboard.
Pricing: Starting at $49/month; 14-day free trial.
Meltwater allows unlimited searches over a rolling 15-month archive so you can identify trends and yearly cycles. Beyond social and web sources, Meltwater data includes TV, radio, podcasts, and other media sources.
Within Meltwater, you can build custom dashboards, analyze sentiment, and take advantage of image recognition tools.
Pricing is available on request.
Source: Sprout Social
Sprout Social helps you track conversations about your brand, understand your audience demographics, and identify important influencers in your niche. Hashtag and mention monitoring are baked into the solution, along with sentiment analysis. More detailed social listening is available with an add-on.
Pricing: Starting at $249/month; 30-day free trial.
Mention tracks more than a billion data sources across the web, including Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. You can create and save filters to make it easier to find what you’re looking for.
This social listening tool includes sentiment analysis and visual reporting. You can track mentions of your brand or any topic up to two years in the past and set up alerts for unusual activity.
Pricing: Starting at $41/month; 14-day free trial.
Formerly known as NetBase, this social listening tool uses generative AI to identify customer needs and expectations from the social conversation. It tracks millions of data points in dashboard form so you can view trends and insights.
This tool is specifically focussed on using social listening data to predict and anticipate future needs and trends, rather than responding to the conversation right in the moment.
Pricing is available on request.
11. Ipsos Synthesio
Source: Ipsos Synthesio
This is another AI-powered social listening tool with trend analysis. Synthesio divides data types into social-declarative data and digital-bevavioral data.
The trend detection here is designed to alert you to statistically relevant changes in the social conversation, topic pairings, and trending images.
This is particularly useful to spot new competitors and shifting brand perception.
Integrate Synthesio with Hootsuite to more easily engage with the social content this tool surfaces.
Pricing is available on request.
Audiense takes a different approach to social intelligence. It’s not strictly speaking a social listening tool according to the narrowest definition of the term. But it does use social listening concepts in its offering, so we think it belongs on this list.
Rather than focusing on conversations about your brand, Audiense uses social data and conversations to help you understand who your audience is and what they care about. It’s about who’s driving the conversation more than what’s being said.
Audiense primarily pulls its data from X (formerly Twitter) and Meta (Facebook and Instagram). It also integrates with Hootsuite.
Pricing: Starting at $1,499/month.
Keyhole offers a social listening tool that tracks keywords, mentions, and hashtags across multiple platforms. It graphs trends over time along with social share of voice. It tracks the sentiment in every mention, along with changes over time.
It’s also helpful to identify key influencers in your niche and compare the performance of the various influencers you identify.
Pricing: Starting at $79/month; free trial available.
HubSpot’s social listening tools allow you to create keyword monitoring streams and set email alerts for specific keyword mentions. Since HubSpot also includes a CRM, it links social conversations with customer data.
HubSpot works well for social listening on X (formerly Twitter) but has limited functionality on other platforms. You can add the Hootsuite integration to HubSpot for additional features.
Pricing: From $800/month; free trial available.
Hootsuite makes it easy to monitor social media conversations and keywords, so you can focus on taking action on the insights available. Try it free today.