With a social listening tool, you gain access to the online mood of your customers—and how they talk about your brand—an integral part of audience research. Understanding how people feel about your company keeps your marketing relevant and timely. It gives your business value.
Thankfully, you have a few tools at your disposal to make this easy—even more powerful. Social media monitoring software can give you the edge you need to accurately gauge the online sentiment of your brand or product. Armed with such insight, you can tailor the approach that’s appropriate for your audience and make their experience rewarding and delightful.
This article looks at the 15 current market leaders in social media management software. It presents a summary of their strongest suits, how they differ from their competitors, and their price points to see if they fit your business needs.
There is no denying the impact of social media on our lives, whether you’re a consumer or a business. As of this writing, there are over 3.2 billion social media users around the world, which is 42% of the global population. It has replaced regular word-of-mouth, but several magnitudes of times faster and more widespread. So this is why when people talk about a topic, product, or brand in social media, most companies take note.
It’s hard to keep track of 3.2 billion people talking at once, however, even with the internet’s virtually limitless resources. What companies need is a solution that filters the background noise and finds the relevant discussions that mention their brand or their industry. A social listening tool fills that gap in the market. Using such a tool allows you to get alerts when (and where) a mention of your brand happens, in real-time, and respond to that mention.
And that is just as well. 68% of consumers leave a company if they feel that the company doesn’t care about them. Like all relationships, you show your concern by listening—and this applies to a business and a consumer relationship, too.
Company doesn't care about me
I'm not satisfied with the service/product
I found a better company in this industry
Source: NetBaseDesigned by
The problem is that in 2019, a lot of tools promise to make social listening easy, but not every tool is made equal. Others have all the functionalities but are priced way too unreasonably, especially for startups and smaller firms. Still some have just the right amount of “listening,” but offer you nothing else to take action on the insight you glean. After all, almost half of all social media marketers’ challenge is to craft the appropriate strategy from the data they obtain from social listening.
Fortunately, we’ve done the legwork for you and condensed the absolute best from a pool of promising social listening software. Note that we’ve picked the top 15 social listening tools with the right balance of utility, price, and flexibility, and believe that each one offers a unique advantage over others in terms of filling a brand’s niche needs.
Here’s how they stack against one another.
Topping our list is HubSpot Marketing. This application simplifies the entire marketing workflow in one simple package, which is why most marketers, designers, and developers use it for its compact, “all-in-one” utility. HubSpot Marketing is also one of the leaders in inbound marketing, which allows a business to personalize their approach to a customer.
The simplicity of HubSpot also belies the true power of the solution. HubSpot Marketing allows you to design full-fledged marketing campaigns using custom workflows, create content, and integrate contacts, leads, and customers, and distribute these to social channels, all in one application. It boasts of a dynamic, easy-to-use dashboard and a landing page builder that you can use with no coding knowledge or experience. You can use these tools to make a profile for a qualified lead and track their footprint across the web—and then offer them targeted messages and invitations to turn that lead into a sale.
You can sign up for a HubSpot Marketing free trial here for a sneak peek of what the software can do for your business.
What also sets this tool apart from its competitors is its smart approach to marketing.
HubSpot Marketing can work in concert with some of the top content management systems, email services, e-commerce platforms, and social media, plus other HubSpot modules like the HubSpot CRM. This gives you the tools to create accurate reports of your marketing efforts’ performance and see how they stack against your overall marketing strategy.
Price range: HubSpot Marketing is free, which contains all the basic features of the product. Otherwise, if you need more utility, you can sign up for their paid plans, starting at $50 up to $3,200 a month, billed annually.
Sharpspring is an inexpensive alternative to HubSpot Marketing, and it does this with its biggest claim to fame: marketing automation. It uses branching logic to interact with leads in custom points of the purchasing process, upon which you can assign different actions. For example, you can assign different personas for your products, and direct leads to the appropriate persona for a smartly targeted message or content.
Sharpspring is also known for its behavioral-based email automation using an “after-the-click” method. This tool allows users to make personalized messages to their leads or customers, guiding them for an eventual conversion. A feature called VisitorID also tracks your website visitors, allowing you to send them a custom-crafted message.
Sharpspring has no free trial but you can request a free demo by signing up here.
Apart from this, Sharpspring also features all the bells and whistles of a modern CRM, including a landing page builder, a blog builder, and social media tools. The latter is especially of interest in the social listening category, as it has a powerful suite of social media management utilities. These include a content calendar, unlimited users and accounts, and post scheduling. Like most of its competitors, you can analyze the engagement on your social media marketing campaigns, identify leads, and trigger automatic actions based on the rules you set.
Price range: It has no free trial, but it has five paid plans starting at $450 to $875 a month, billed on a monthly recurring basis. Its two biggest plans, Enterprise and Agency, are quote-based so it’s a good idea to ask their representative for a plan that works for your needs.
Zoho Social is a module of the Zoho suite that concerns itself with growing a business using social media. It does this by using an intuitive design that categorizes social media tools into four distinct kits: publishing, monitoring, collaboration, and analysis. The bulk of its features are, naturally, on the first two.
On the publishing side, it has the tools you expect a social media manager to have. With Zoho Social, you can schedule and post content. You can do this via a bulk scheduling method (such as for an extended vacation), or a content calendar with a queueing mechanism. Its SmartQ feature also estimates the time your users and followers are most active so you can make a targeted post right when they’re checking their feeds.
If you’re interested in a simple, full-featured social listening tool, you can easily sign up for a Zoho Social free trial. Like HubSpot, it’s free, but with additional paid features.
On the other hand, you can also monitor—in real-time—what users in the online sphere are talking about in relation to your brand. You can reply to direct messages using Zoho Social’s in-line capabilities or listen to reviews, mentions, keywords, and hashtags and engage in these discussions. Furthermore, its collaboration tools allow you to engage your team when managing your social media presence, and its analytics can generate reports and statistics that can give you an insight into how to best approach your audience.
Price range: Zoho Social is free, but with two tiers of paid plans that give additional plans. The paid editions start at $10 a month, with the most expensive (for agencies and enterprises) at $300 monthly, billed annually. Zoho Social has a monthly scheme too, but it’s slightly more expensive on a month-per-month basis.
YouScan is an intelligent social listening solution that makes full use of NLP (natural language processing) and AI to uncover how people really feel about your brand. With YouScan, you can tap into the online buzz surrounding your business and your industry and use cutting-edge analysis to gain new insight into your products and services.
YouScan allows you to see mentions of your brand (or your field) on social and traditional media, then react as needed. It uses a combination of listening to certain keywords and visuals using the software’s Visual Insights aspect. You can automate this listening as well, and then get alerts as they happen. In addition, this also allows your customer support team to preempt a response as a situation develops, whether good or bad, giving them a step ahead of trends.
If you think all this data is useful, YouScan can be an invaluable ally. Learn about all of YouScan’s powerful features by signing up for YouScan free trial here.
Speaking of trends, YouScan also detects nascent trends so you can work these trends into your marketing strategy. It does this by using machine learning to get routine tasks out of the way. Alongside this feature is a word cloud and link analysis capability.
Price range: YouScan has four paid plans, starting at $500 monthly (for a minimum of three months) and up to $6,000 monthly. Note that this pricing is a monthly basis, but the vendor also offers annual pricing for each of their paid plans.
InflueNex is a simple solution that allows you to find and contact influencers on YouTube, which plays host to over two million influencers. The tool can easily match an influencer using their content to your products and services. This way, you don’t need to sift through thousands of influencers offering content irrelevant to the campaign you have in mind. Instead, you can zero in on the influencer you need.
So what does it do? InflueNex uses an advanced search engine that employs 10 filters to home in on the influencer and assigns them an “InflueNex Score”. These filters include category (niche), language, country, and number of subscribers. Once you’ve found an influencer you like, you can look at their profile, which includes details like engagement and estimated price range. Plus, you can contact multiple influencers at once with a batch message feature.
If you want to harness the power of YouTube for your marketing campaign, InflueNex is a handy utility. You can easily sign up for InflueNex free trial here and get to know the features firsthand at no cost and without commitment.
InflueNex isn’t just an influencer search engine, however, as it can also allow you to manage the influencers you work with. You can add, remove, or edit influencer groups, and send updates to the influencers in this group. The software also has a suite of free tools that come out of the box, including an analytics extension, a Youtube monetization calculator, and a live subs counter.
Price range: InflueNex has a free basic edition, but you can invest in the software’s paid plans for additional features. Premium plans start at $39.99 a month, up to $99.99 a month.
Awario is built on the premise that someone, somewhere, is talking about your brand, and people are listening to them. This puts Awario at a place that can find these conversations that happen online, whether they’re on social media or anywhere else—like Reddit, blogs, or the news.
This software’s unique selling point is that it doesn’t use third-party data to find the mentions or keywords you want. Instead, it uses active crawling of 13 billion web pages (and counting) to find the buzz around your business. And users in other languages talking about your brand? No problem; Awario recognizes all these signals in whatever language they’re spoken in.
Listening to social signals is a big effort, but Awario can make it easy. The vendor has an appealing free trial where you can tinker with the features at no cost. You can sign up for Awario free trial here.
Apart from these, Awario has the standard bevy of features as you might expect from a social listening tool, including sentiment analysis and white-label report generation. It can even search for influencers! Other than that, Awario uses original features like Leads, which can find opportunities for sales, and Reach, which can find discussions about your brand and let you participate in them quickly and easily.
Price range: Awario’s plans are simple enough, which starts at $29 per month. The biggest is the Enterprise plan, which gives you more topics to monitor at $299 a month.
Hootsuite is billed as a “social relationship platform.” This is thanks to its main feature, which allows you to manage all your social media accounts in one place. No more logging in separately. You can manage your messages and mentions in one simple dashboard.
Hootsuite supports over 35 social networking sites, so wherever people are talking about your brand, you can be sure Hootsuite is there to capture them. And what platforms Hootsuite doesn’t natively support, you can extend with third-party apps. With Hootsuite, you can schedule, publish, and promote content in these channels and monitor their performance.
The platform also allows other contributors using a team management feature. You can give them access and data without compromising security, set permissions, manage workflows, and collaborate in real-time. And what’s a social listening tool without analytics? Hootsuite gives you a lot of toys in this area, such as useful intelligence on brand and industry mentions and report generation using over 30 modules.
Hootsuite offers localization support for Italian, French, and Japanese, with more in the pipeline.
Price range: Hootsuite has three paid plans with upfront pricing, which starts at $29 a month to $599 a month. The vendor also offers a quote-based plan, Enterprise, for custom solutions.
Like Hootsuite, Agorapulse allows you to manage all your social media accounts and messages in one place. Its biggest feature is that it unifies all your messages across all platforms you have a presence in into one simple inbox.
The unified inbox feature easily frees your time to respond to each inquiry or message and provides a consistent framework for your response. You don’t have to do it alone, though, as Agorapulse also features an AI-powered moderation tool to filter, flag, and auto-respond to messages (if you see fit to). Otherwise, you can have your team manage your inbox and set parameters and permissions for each member.
Other than that, Agorapulse also has a flexible content scheduling system, with features such as queueing evergreen content, uploading multiple posts at once and to different channels, and using a content calendar to organize everything. On the social listening aspect, it comes with standard features like keyword mentions, customizing mentions, and saved responses for common mentions.
What’s more, Agorapulse also has a native mobile app for iOS and Android. The full-featured app gives you all the tools of the desktop version hosted on the cloud, but now you can do all your work on the go.
Price range: Agorapulse has four paid plans, which starts at $89 a month. The biggest is their Enterprise plan at $459 a month, which is best for huge teams that manage a lot of social media accounts.
Tweetdeck is a completely free application developed by Twitter, which expands the capabilities of the base platform for power users. As you can probably guess from the name, it’s a tool that marketers (and some consumers) use to track, listen, and engage with a Twitter audience. And, of course, what’s a good Twitter app that doesn’t let you share via tweets? Tweetdeck does that, and more—schedule tweets, tweet in batches, you name it.
The application allows a master profile from where you can log into multiple Twitter accounts at the same time in one platform. Its main capability allows users to make multiple “columns” or categories, which can be populated by lists, mentions, hashtags, direct messages, or a topic. This allows a business to monitor a relevant discussion as they happen in real-time. Plus, you can even mark a tweet as “read” a la an email inbox so you don’t have to look at the same tweet or message twice. This is useful for social media managers who need to sift through a ton of discussions on this social network.
Tweetdeck is also versatile as it’s a cloud-based tool, as with many modern software solutions. But Tweetdeck doesn’t just stop there. It can be deployed almost anywhere—as a stand-alone desktop application on Windows and Mac, a Chrome application, or a mobile app.
Price range: Tweetdeck is completely free, which makes it the number one Twitter application currently in use.
AdRoll refers to itself as a “growth marketing platform”. This software is geared specifically for D2C (direct to consumer) businesses. It does this by what’s called retargeting, or enticing people who have visited your website in the past to drop by again and make a purchase. This is particularly useful, as 97% of all first-time visitors don’t buy anything. AdRoll has found itself a niche in this market.
AdRoll utilizes different platforms and devices to reach past visitors. They make use of AI and predictive engineering to make an IntentMap—which tracks and analyzes shopper profiles and shopping intent. The AI then makes a prediction on which of these intents and shoppers can be pursued to make a lead, and then automatically sends a targeted, personalized ad to that shopper. They boast access to over 500 ad exchanges to do so.
The software is also built for e-commerce platforms first and foremost. It integrates with nearly all platforms, such as Shopify, Magento, and Squarespace. With AdRoll’s proprietary AI and BidIQ, you can have dynamic ads, content, and recommendations that work to increase lead conversions. Plus, it can also connect to other software via third-party APIs.
Price range: AdRoll has no free trial, but you can customize your plan depending on how much your daily needs for your recurring campaigns are. That said, they offer at least four plans, starting at $400 a month, up to $10,000 a month.
Qwaya is a Facebook ad manager. While Facebook does have its own native tool, Qwaya takes it up a notch by offering powerful features that are not present in Facebook’s in-house utility. With this software running your ads on Facebook, you can enhance your ad’s performance and reach by driving targeted visitors to your website and integrating with Google Analytics.
Qwaya can find the most responsive audience for your ads by using an A/B testing method. You can split an ad into segments and change small details, such as text and images, in an A/B fashion and see what would work best for your audience. And ad creation is no slouch either. You can easily make an ad with templates, multiple users, and workflows that can be combined in a structured folder so you don’t get lost even in large ad campaigns. Plus, you can place these ads virtually anywhere on Facebook, including the News Feed, and experiment with any type of ad, including a Mobile App Install ad.
What’s more, Qwaya allows you to customize your tracking URLs. By default, Qwaya can use the Google Analytics standard for tracking, but you can also make your own using several variables. You can save these templates as well for convenience.
Price range: Qwaya offers a free trial, and if you need a more unlimited experience, you can try one of their three plans. The plans start at $149 a month, with up to $349 a month for an agency.
Buzzsumo is a well-known content curation and social media management tool. At its core, Buzzsumo allows marketers to find effective, relevant, and timely content. With Buzzsumo finding the topics that delight audiences and developing viral trends, your brand will be at the cutting-edge of the discussion, placing you at an advantage for generating leads and prospects.
Buzzsumo scours over 5 billion web pages (and counting) for trends and hot topics as they’re being discussed. It can predict a trend that will go viral (or not), identify relevant keywords related to your niche and brand, dig deep into more general topics to find a more specific topic, and even find a gap in a question posted online with no clear or definitive answer yet. It can even unearth the deepest recesses of Quora and Reddit to get you a topic that people will find and love.
Finally, any social listening tool is not complete without monitoring, and Buzzsumo has lots of it. You can create alerts for just about anything, whether they be brand mentions, topics, hashtags, and the like. Plus, you can also set the app to notify you if a brand, publisher, or influencer posts anything new so you can interact with it earlier than your competitors.
Price range: Buzzsumo has a flexible plan system where you can either monthly or annually and switch or upgrade anytime. Their plans start at $99 a month up to $499 (or more) a month, depending on how much utility you need.
Sprout Social is another heavyweight that uses data to manage the social media accounts of brands of any size. This tool enables your business to perform publishing, analytics, and listening on all social profiles in a unified platform. The “social” in its name doesn’t just refer to social media, however, as you can use its built-in collaboration tools for your team and clients to perform work as needed.
Sprout Social has a smart, unified inbox where all your messages from all social profiles arrive. From here, you can choose to build a chatbot, relegate messages to specific team members, tag messages, and even manage reviews. Apart from the standard analytics, Sprout Social’s listening tools are highly sensitive. For example, you can analyze audience preferences and sentiment, perform consumer research on certain variables, gain insight on your campaigns, identify influencers and thought leaders, and predict trends.
The software won’t be in an all-in-one solution if it doesn’t have a publishing capability too. Sprout Social has an in-app asset library that promises to make publishing and posting on any social media platform easy, without having to look for resources elsewhere. It has a standard slew of features: scheduling, batch uploading, automation, and the like that can be accessed anywhere. Sprout Social has a native mobile app for both iOS and Android for this purpose.
Price range: Sprout Social has a 30-day free trial. In case you want to continue the experience, they have three paid plans, starting at $99 per user/month. Their biggest plan is $249 per user/month.
Like many of its counterparts on this list, Buffer allows you to log into any of your social media accounts in one place just by using it. Its capabilities can be summed up into three categories: publish, reply, and analyze. You can publish content from Buffer itself, respond to messages from your social media audience, analyze the performance of your campaigns and generate reports in one single platform.
Buffer’s layout allows the user to make any kind of social media post. You can schedule and/or automate them as necessary, with integrations to Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, with special capabilities for each platform. For example, when you use Buffer to post on Instagram, its special feature allows a “first comment” natively so you can build a hashtag set.
Using a calendar, you can draft topics with your team and assign member privileges and tasks. You can also use this collaboration feature on a shared inbox, where you can designate a specific conversation to a particular member of your team. In fact, you can automate some common replies as well and use shortcut keys for everything to shave some time doing routine tasks.
Price range: Buffer is relatively inexpensive, with a starting plan of only $15 a month. The plan with the most extensive set of features comes at $99 a month.
Last on our list (but certainly not the least) is Mention, a comprehensive social listening utility that can gather data from billions of web pages—including social media and forums—and in over 40 languages. This capability gives the user unprecedented insight thanks to the massive volume of sources from where you can craft a suitable strategy.
Mention’s listening tools are top-notch. With this software, you can create custom insights with custom displays, monitor sentiment in real-time using filters and Boolean search, and spy on competitors and their metrics (versus how they stack up against yours). Like most social media management tools, it has all the standard features of publishing and scheduling. Finally, it can create automatic reports based on the variables you choose and send a copy to yourself or your clients as you see fit.
One of the biggest draws of Mention is its API. This tool allows you to leverage Mention’s existing crawler to explore sentiment around the web without having to build one from scratch. Plus, the API gives you the ability to track sentiment as it happens and filter those that really matter so you can respond to them easily. Integrate Mention’s API to your reports, website, or even your CRM to get the most out of your social listening.
Price range: Mention is free, but has three paid premium plans, starting at $25 a month. They also offer a quote-based enterprise solution for those who want to customize how Mention helps their brand.
We understand that a lot of choices can cripple a decision, so we’ve tried to make this list of the top 15 social listening tools as easy to understand as possible. We’ve highlighted their most relevant features in the hope of guiding you toward a choice that will best fit your business needs.
In any case, there is a reason that HubSpot Marketing is our current leader when it comes to social listening. This software is an all-in-one solution that gives you all the tools you need in terms of monitoring customer sentiment, publishing and curating content, and disseminating your top content through the most relevant channels. Plus, HubSpot Marketing allows you to personalize all your communication to leads and customers and tailor your approach to them as necessary. If you want to check its comprehensive feature set you can easily sign up for HubSpot Marketing free trial here.
Otherwise, if you are looking for a more in-depth solution for a customer-facing business, a customer relationship management tool may be right up your alley. Check out our list of CRM programs for our top picks.
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