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The 2024 State of the Media Report

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10 Social Listening Tools, And Who They're Best For

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Social listening is all about eavesdropping on what people are saying about your brand and competitors online. And social media is where some of the most interesting conversations happen. The best social listening tools help you monitor brand mentions and track relevant keywords across social media platforms like X, Facebook, Instagram, and Reddit.

Whether it's X threads, Instagram comments, or Reddit debates, your customers and future customers are telling you what they want to see from your brand. It's time to start listening!

Let's take a look at some of the top social listening tools out there, including who they're for and how they can help you build a brand your customers actually want to talk about.

What is Social Listening?

Social listening is the process of monitoring digital conversations to understand what consumers are saying about your brand, industry, and competitors.

It involves tracking business-relevant topics across social media platforms, online forums, review sites, news sites, and anywhere else your audience hangs out online.

By monitoring these conversations, you can get a real understanding of how people feel about your products, services, and even your competitors. It's like being a digital fly on the wall, giving you access to unfiltered feedback you can't get anywhere else.

What are Social Listening Tools?

Social listening tools act as your brand's eyes and ears online, scanning the internet and flagging anything important related to your brand, industry keywords, competitors, or topics of interest. 

These social media listening tools use advanced algorithms and natural language processing to scour social media channels, websites, blogs, and online communities for any mentions of your brand, products, campaigns, or relevant conversations.

The real magic happens when social listening platforms compile all those online whispers into tidy reports, visualizations, and social media analytics. With a top social listening tool, you can track sentiment trends, identify influencers, monitor brand mentions, and even predict emerging conversations before they become the hot new thing. 

What are the Benefits of Using a Social Listening Tool?

Using social media listening tools is like having a devoted entourage working tirelessly to protect your brand's reputation, amplify your message, and keep you culturally relevant. By monitoring the virtual grapevine of social media conversations, online forums, and review sites, these social listening platforms help you:

1. Stay ahead of the criticism curve by catching negative sentiment before it becomes a crisis

2. Identify your biggest fans and micro-influencers to amplify your message

3. Spot emerging trends early to stay ahead of competitors

4. Gather priceless Voice of Customer data to improve products/services

5. Protect your brand's reputation by addressing issues promptly

6. Uncover new marketing/advertising opportunities based on real social conversations

7. Monitor brand mentions and relevant conversations across social media channels

8. Analyze sentiment around your brand, campaigns, and social media posts

9. Track Share of Voice (SOV) and benchmark against competitors

10. Gain valuable insights to inform your marketing strategy and optimize campaigns

11. Identify key influencers and brand advocates for partnerships

12. Understand your target audience's interests, preferences, and pain points

10 Social Media Listening Tools And Who They’re Right For

1. CisionOne Social 

The social listening tool for PR pros. Loved for influencer intel and outreach.

Typical role: Communications Manager, PR Manager

Company size: Mid-size to enterprise

Use cases: Track media coverage, monitor social media mentions, identify journalists and influencers for outreach.

CisionOne Social is an integrated social intelligence tool, perfect for comms teams. Not only does it offer in-depth social listening across Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube, but it allows users to reach out to influencers within the app.

CisionOne Social’s analytics uncovers conversation insights across 13 crucial social metrics, and comes with executive-ready, custom reports that tell the story of social coverage. It also offers unlimited search streams and the ability to monitor mentions as soon as they drop via a mobile app.

Users can schedule posts, publish to Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram, collaborate on content, and get approvals – all in one place. 

The CisionOne Social suite is backed up by over 850,000 up-to-date journalist media profiles, which are validated by a team of 120+ global researchers and monitored globally across 196 countries and 69 languages.

Pros: Extensive media database, good monitoring capabilities, influencer outreach in-app

Cons: Pricing can be high for smaller businesses

2. Brandwatch

The social listening tool for insights analysts. Loved for data sources and segmentation.

Typical role: Social Media Manager, Digital Marketing Manager, Consumer Insights Analyst

Company size: Enterprise

Use cases: Tracking brand health, campaign analysis, consumer insights

Brandwatch is a great choice for consumer brands looking to analyze consumer conversations, segment audiences, and benchmark the competition.

Brandwatch enables social media managers and market researchers to analyze consumer conversations at scale, across 100M+ social and online sources. And for that reason, it is one of the most comprehensive social listening tools on the market.

One thing that regularly crops up in positive reviews of Brandwatch is its comprehensive audience segmentation. As well as enabling users to spot brand and competitor mentions, Brandwatch helps users slice and dice demographic data of both in-app social audiences and their own customer lists. 

Pros: AI-powered insights, deep segmentation and audience insights

Cons: Pricing can be high for smaller businesses, Boolean query searches can be tricky to build at first

3. Hootsuite

The social media management platform. Loved for calendar scheduling.

Typical role: Social Media Coordinator, Marketing Manager

Company size: Small to mid-size businesses

Use cases: Social media management, content scheduling

Hootsuite is ideal for the social media teams, digital marketers, and community managers of small to medium businesses. According to G2, users love Hootsuite for its social scheduling calendars and the ability to manage multiple social accounts. 

Hootsuite offers social listening capabilities through “Streams” and “Insights Powered by Brandwatch”. “Streams” helps users monitor keywords, brand mentions, and hashtags across multiple platforms including Reddit, Google My Business, and review sites, while “Insights” supports competitor research through sentiment analysis and AI.

Pros: All-in-one social media management, monitor multiple streams, team collaboration

Cons: Listening/analytics features not as robust as dedicated tools

4. Agorapulse 

The social media listening tool for small agencies. Loved for thorough client reporting.

Typical role: Social Media Manager, Digital Marketing Manager

Company size: Small Business or agencies

Use cases: Social media management, client reporting

Agorapulse is made for social media agencies and small businesses. It’s praised not only for its social media management, but for the social listening reports that users can generate to hand over to clients or execs.

Users also turn to Agorapulse to schedule posts and monitor reviews or comments.

Pros: User-friendly, accurate and visually pleasing reports

Cons: Fewer listening capabilities than some rivals

5. Mention

The social listening tool for freelancers and small businesses. Loved for the price tag.

Typical role: Business Owner, Solopreneur

Company size: Small Business or freelancer

Use cases: Brand monitoring, online review tracking

Startups, personal brands, and small businesses on a budget turn to Mention for its affordable pricing. Users set up alerts on brand mentions across social media and the wider web, perform basic sentiment analysis, and track social media trends. Mention users also praise it for its speedy tracking of keywords and its negative filters.

Pros: Affordable pricing, easy UI

Cons: Less robust data and reporting compared to top tools

6. Sprout Social

The social media management platform for mid-size brands. Loved for customer service.

Typical role: Social Media Manager, Community Manager

Company size: Mid-size businesses

Use cases: Social customer care, message inbox management

Sprout Social is the social media tool of choice for customer service teams. Users especially love Sprout for its smart inbox, which lets them manage incoming messages, tag and assign items, and respond directly without switching between platforms. Sprout Social offers social listening capabilities as an add-on to their core social media management platform. While not Sprout's primary focus, their social listening tool allows brands to monitor relevant mentions and keywords across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, and other online sources. 

Pros: Unified smart inbox, employee advocacy, social CRM

Cons: Listening/monitoring features limited

7. Meltwater 

The social listening platform for customized insights. Loved for sentiment tracking.

Typical Role: Digital Marketing Manager, Brand Manager, Market Research Manager

Company Size: Mid-market businesses

Use Case: Omnichannel media intelligence, market research

Meltwater is tailored for mid-sized businesses, offering social listening and AI-powered insights across 190+ countries. Users especially love it for its automated sentiment analysis, precise Boolean search queries, and levels of brand customization, but these features do come with a premium price tag. Some users also find Meltwater's extensive reporting options overwhelming. 

Pros: Customizable dashboards, accurate sentiment analysis

Cons: Expensive enterprise pricing, reports can be overwhelming

8. Talkwalker 

The social listening tool for multinational enterprises. Loved for AI-powered insights. 

Typical Role: Head of Marketing/Insights, CMO, Consumer Insights Analyst 

Company Size: Enterprise Use Case: Global brand health tracking, competitor benchmarking, consumer intelligence

Talkwalker is tailored for large, multinational brands seeking a comprehensive consumer intelligence platform. Its AI-powered analytics can analyze data across 192 languages, giving global enterprises a unified view of brand perception worldwide.

Users rave about Talkwalker's AI-enabled insights, which can identify emerging trends, segment audiences, and even predict future consumer behaviors. The platform also offers best-in-class competitive benchmarking capabilities.

Pros: Multilingual listening, predictive analytics, competitor analysis

Cons: Expensive enterprise pricing, technical learning curve

9. Synthesio 

The customizable social listening tool for market researchers. Loved for AI models. 

Typical Role: Market Researcher, Consumer Insights Manager 

Company Size: Mid-Market to Enterprise 

Use Case: Voice of customer analysis, market research, audience segmentation

Synthesio's claim to fame is enabling users to build their own AI models for highly specialized business use cases. The platform lets market researchers create customized classifiers to analyze unstructured data exactly how they need it.

Users praise Synthesio's ability to combine AI models with human-validated rules for unparalleled accuracy in categorizing conversations. It's a flexible tool well-suited for niche industries or complicated use cases.

Pros: Custom AI models, human-validated rules, data visualizations

Cons: Steeper learning curve, enterprise pricing

10. Awario 

The social media monitoring tool for SEOs. Loved for web mention tracking. 

Typical Role: SEO Specialist, Digital PR Manager 

Company Size: Agencies, freelancers, small businesses 

Use Case: Backlink monitoring, online PR, web mention tracking

While SEOs employ Awario for its web monitoring capabilities, the tool also offers quality social listening features at an affordable price point. Users can track brand mentions across news sites, blogs, forums and review platforms in addition to social media.

Awario is especially useful for digital PR campaigns or SEO professionals looking to monitor backlink opportunities and manage their online reputation. Positive reviewers highlight Awario's Boolean search capabilities and easy-to-use interface.

Pros: Web & social monitoring, Boolean search, affordable pricing

Cons: Limited team capabilities, smaller data pool than top tools

 

Author Bio
Marcelo Javelly
Marcelo Javelly
 SEO and Social Listening Specialist

Marcelo is an SEO and Social listening expert with 8+ years of experience across various industries and joined Cision in 2023. Based in Copenhagen, he is our in-house specialist for all things related to social listening.