In order to build a powerful digital marketing strategy – whether it’s social media, content marketing, influencer marketing, and pretty much any other type of marketing campaign – you need knowledge. Knowledge about your target audience, knowledge about the people they follow, the content that they like, and so on.
This is where social listening comes in. Social listening is not just a way to keep track of your mentions online, but it's also a way to learn more about your audience, so that you can make better, more informed marketing decisions on how to best reach them.
In this post, I’m going to share five social listening tools that you need to know about - but first…
What is social listening exactly, and how can you use it to your advantage?
Social listening is the act of monitoring online activity and conversations. This can be done for various reasons and usually, social listening tools are a bit more complex than the more common social monitoring tools.
While social media monitoring tools enable you to monitor keywords and brand names on social media to catch any mentions, social listening tools usually offer more options - from being able to monitor the entire web (not just social media, but also blogs, forums, web publications, and so on), to creating complex Boolean searches that can help you catch even the most elusive mentions.
Because of these powerful features, you can use social listening in a variety of ways:
- For monitoring your brand name and customer service – make sure you never miss any relevant mention of your brand on the web, whether people tag you or not
- For discovering potential leads or prospects for social selling and/or for engaging
- To identify top influencers in your niche, as well as any potential brand ambassadors
- For researching your niche and your target audience
- For content research: what types of content works? (i.e. blog posts, social media content, etc.)
Here are some top social listening tools to help you with your own research – whatever you want to achieve:
Awario is a pro social listening app with extra social selling features, as well as social media management features.
In short, you can use it to:
- Create complex social listening searches throughout the web (blogs, social media, forums, online publications, etc.) using regular keyword search or Boolean search so you can find important mentions more easily – from certain sources, keywords separated by other words/phrases, and so on:
- Discover social selling opportunities with the Awario Leads module, which is free for all plans. The module generates social media leads/opportunities automatically - all you have to do is enter your product description (numerous keywords, as needed), your brand name, and your competitors, and the tool will then find relevant social media posts, such as customers complaining about competitors or people looking for product/service recommendations:
- Respond to any relevant mentions and engagement/social selling opportunities directly within the Awario dashboard once you connect your social networks
- Check analytics of your social listening searches in order to gain insights into your target market and audience, as well as create reports
Keyhole is a real-time social listening tool which enables you to track:
- Keywords and hashtags across social media
- Twitter accounts, Facebook Pages, and YouTube channels
- Keywords across blogs, news sites, and forums
There are a few different ways that you can use it:
- To track specific hashtags, particularly if you have any campaign-specific hashtags
- To track all brand mentions: both your brand and your competitors
- To research content, as well as discover any potential leads/social selling opportunities
It’s a bit different from some of the other pro social listening tools in this list, in the sense that it’s not as complex, and there’s a bigger focus on hashtag monitoring and brand mentions (the web mentions feature is quite new).
Mention is another pro social listening tool which enables you to monitor the entire web. From social media to blogs and forums, you can monitor any keywords you want, including, of course, your brand name and your competitors.
If you want to create more complex searches, you have the option to create Boolean Queries, as with some of the other tools in this list:
This feature, as noted, is very useful (and even if it might look complicated at first sight, it’s very easy to set up once you understand how it works), as it enables you to catch more elusive mentions that you would otherwise miss.
For example, you can add as many variables as you want, create rules (such as only mentions that include multiple certain keywords, but not another keyword), and make sure you don’t miss mentions that include your exact keywords, only separated by other words (for instance, if you searched for “content marketing” you might also be interested in a mention like “I’m looking for someone who knows content to help with my marketing strategy”).
Plus, once you find relevant mentions, you can respond to them directly from the dashboard, and you can add multiple team members as Mention has team collaboration tools. And of course, you analyze your searches and generate real-time reports to share with any relevant parties.
Another top social listening tool, Brandwatch is a complex and versatile app that you can use for pretty much any social listening/reporting needs. This makes it a great option for market and audience research, as it provides a plethora of in-depth insights.
Brandwatch lets you monitor the entire web (as with some of the other tools, social networks, blogs, forums, news sites, and other online publications), and since it recently partnered up with Crimson Hexagon, it’s likely we’ll see more interesting features from them in the future.
Once you’ve created your search with Brandwatch, you’ll be able to access your mentions and insights, and there’s a big focus on analytics within the app.
You also get access to very detailed audience analytics/demographics - who forms your audience, where they’re from, where they spend their time online, what content they like/prefer, what their interests are, and much more.
This makes it a great option for those who need to research a market or audience in order to be able to create marketing strategies that will truly resonate.
Talkwalker is a well-known social listening and analytics tool that is better suited for enterprises, or companies with a global presence.
To start with, you can use it to create complex social listening searches to help you stay on track of any mentions of your brand anywhere on the web and in the world (over 150 million websites tracked):
Talkwalker also offers “visual listening” – meaning, you can track mentions of your brand logo all over the web.
Additionally, you also get very detailed social media analytics:
- Integrate with Google Analytics to help track your social media ROI
- Monitor and analyse your social media campaigns and hashtags
- Analyze the sentiment surrounding your brand/social media campaigns
If you need to create reports to demonstrate your online marketing efforts and ROI, you can easily build them, which you can then download as PDFs, Word documents, or as PowerPoint presentations. What’s more, you can evaluate exactly what ROI you’re getting from your social media and what revenue you’re generating (compared to your targets).
Social listening can provide you with incredibly powerful insights into both your industry and your target audience. As highlighted in this post, these tools can help you:
- Understand who your target audience is and where they’re from, what their interests are, what content they like, and what influencers they follow and trust
- Understand your industry and follow the most recent news and content being shared, monitor your competitors, discover top influencers, and find gaps and opportunities
- Find opportunities to engage with your target audience and discover potential leads to connect with