I’ll never get tired of singing praise to social media monitoring tools: they are generally quite easy to use and they can be used for almost everything. And I really mean EVERYTHING; inside and outside of social media marketing realm, from tracking hashtags and monitoring your brand mentions to predicting industry trends, finding leads on social media, and analyzing customer satisfaction.

The diversity of applications you can find for a social media listening tool is not the only thing diverse about social listening tools. The market of social media monitoring software is also extremely varied: you have Enterprise-level powerful social data analysis machines, you have no less powerful but much more affordable monitoring tools, you have free social media monitoring tools, and you have tools that utilize social listening for a specific goal such as content research or influencer discovery.

However, choosing a social media monitoring can be difficult: most of us don’t have the time to go through all the free trials, read all the reviews, and hear out all the opinions. That’s when this article comes in handy! But first, in case you’re new here, let’s talk about social media monitoring in general.

What is social media monitoring?

Social media monitoring or social media listening, as it’s sometimes called, is an act of monitoring social media platforms for your keyword(s) and keyword combinations with the help of social media monitoring tools. With social listening tools, you can:

  • Monitor mentions of your brand.

  • Track conversations and engage with the potential target audience.

  • Respond to complaints and questions about the product.

  • See what people generally think about your brand.

  • Find relevant social media content to use in your social media marketing strategy.

The last one is very important: social media monitoring tools don’t just show you every social mention of your keyword(s), they analyze the data behind them and put it in perspective (although, that's not the case for free social media monitoring tools). You can find out your social mentions’ reach, the sentiment behind them, associated topics, who talks about your keywords (demographic data), and so on.

Some monitoring tools even offer access to historical data, which means that you can see changes in your analytics immediately once you start using the tool. So let's say you start to monitor the mentions of your product, an innovative bottle opener. For example, you might notice that your bottle opener was mentioned an unusual number of times at the beginning of July 2018 - all because Keanu Reeves praised it as the best bottle opener for opening the 4th of July beer. You might want to tweak your marketing programs to include more Keanu after that (although let’s face it, Keanu is always good to include in your marketing strategy, ask Xbox).

Just remember that finding mentions of your brand name is not the only way to use social listening.

Now that you have an understanding of the concept of social listening, let’s move on to the topic you came here for, the social media monitoring tools. In this list, I tried to present a variety of software for different needs and different budgets, from free social media monitoring tools to the quite costly ones. 

Top social media monitoring tools

1. Awario

You’ll say “Oh, of course, they start with their own tool!” and to that I’ll say, firstly, this list is organized alphabetically, and secondly, Awario is awesome and it would be a crime not to include it (also, it would probably completely miss the point of writing this extremely SEO-friendly article *wink-wink*).

Awario is a relatively new tool (entered the market in 2015) whose goal is to make Enterprise-level analytics affordable for anyone. Unlike most tools, it can be used both to analyze and monitor equally well. You can respond to your mentions right from the platform in real time and analyze large amounts of social data for marketing monitoring insights. The tool is quite flexible: if you want to uncover its full potential, I suggest checking out this guide on how to use social listening in 29 different ways.

Main features

Powerful analytics. The tool analyzes the number and reach of your social mentions, the sentiment behind them, breaks down the data based on the location, language, and source of the social media posts, topics associated with your keywords, and so on. You also have an Influencers report, which shows you people with a large audience who mentioned your keywords on each platform, and Alert Comparison report which is perfect for competitor analysis or, for example, comparing two hashtags to find out which one is stronger. All the insights are visualized in comprehensive downloadable PDF reports. If you work at a social media agency, you'll be glad to know that all three types of reports are white-label.

Historical data. Depending on the platform you monitor, you can discover social media posts that date back to more than 10 years ago. This could be useful for in-depth research into an industry, competitor, or a certain product.

Boolean search mode. Boolean enables you to create complex and flexible search queries which are great for tracking mentions that might be used in various contexts (think an apple vs. Apple™).

What makes it stand out?

Awario Leads. The tool provides you with a free add-on which uses predictive semantic analysis to find social mentions indicating buyer intent. This could be a social selling magic wand for small businesses — for example, somebody tweets asking for recommendations on organic sunscreen, and here you’re, metaphorical hands full of sunscreen, linking right to the product page.

Whitelists. If you’re interested in monitoring specific pages, you can set the tool to get social data from them first. For now, Whitelists are only available for Facebook and Instagram, but we’re planning to add support for more sources in the future.

High value for money. Not to brag, but Awario is one of the most lucrative tools on the market. Social media monitoring software prices typically depend on the number of social mentions and alerts you get per month - the more mentions you want to find, the bigger the price; and our tool has one of the most beneficial price-mentions ratios.

Supported social media platforms

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, news and blogs, the web.

Price

We offer three different plans that differ in the number of data you can collect and store as well as the availability of some features such as multi-users. Pricing starts at $29/mo for the Starter plan. Our most popular Pro plan costs $89/mo, and Enterprise is $299/mo. You can also go for a custom plan designed specifically for your needs.

Free trial

You have two weeks to test out the social media monitoring tool for free. The free trial version capabilities correspond to those of the Starter plan.

2. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo is owned by the social media intelligence powerhouse that unites Brandwatch and Crimson Hexagon, but it chooses to approach social media monitoring from a different perspective. Most apps on this market are either brand monitoring and reputation management oriented or extremely versatile in their use, but Buzzsumo focuses on a specific area of marketing — content marketing. It analyzes content performance across social networks and on the web.

Main features

Content Analysis. This doesn’t refer just to social media content — it also includes links you share. It’s the first dashboard you see once you log in your Buzzsumo account. Content Analyzer helps you discover the most popular content on the Internet: once you enter your keyword, you will be able to see how many shares and backlinks the articles containing this keyword got, and how much engagement on social networks. Buzzsumo also assigns the articles the Evergreen Score, which measures the number of social engagements and backlinks an article receives 30 days after the article is published.

You can filter this search by country, language, content type, word count, and publisher site.

Influencer discovery. Buzzsumo’s influencer research capabilities are mainly focused on Twitter and the web. The process is similar to content research: you put in your keyword or key phrases, and Buzzsumo gives you a list of influential people in this niche. Buzzsumo distinguishes five types of influencers: bloggers, influencers, companies, journalists, and regular people. The tool analyzes how likely an influencer is to engage with someone’s content by calculating retweet and reply ratios.

If there’s a web address linked in a person’s Twitter bio (for example, their blog), Buzzsumo pulls the data from Moz to evaluate Page Authority and Domain Authority of their websites. Page Authority score shows how authoritative a website is and how valuable the links placed there are, and Domain Authority shows how well a website will rank on search engines.

You can export the lists of influencers or build influencer lists right from the application that could be useful for outreach and networking.

Monitoring. With this feature, social monitoring is used to check your own content performance. You can take a look at your backlinks, your shares, and your overall reach online. This feature could be used for brand monitoring as well, although it’s quite limited in terms of analytics: you don’t get sentiment analysis or any demographic measurement.

What makes it stand out?

Buzzsumo is quite unique in its nature, although, you could use a social media monitoring tool like Awario for content discovery as well, just saying. In addition to that, it has some cool features which may not get enough spotlight, such as:

  • Trending Now tab will show you what content causes the most buzz around the web. It’s separated by topics like Tech, Business, Video, Fashion, etc. You can set various filters and share the RSS feed of the result. This is a good way of keeping up with trends.

  • Most Shared and Backlinks are pretty-explanatory but I wanted to highlight that they could be useful for monitoring competitors’ content strategy.

  • Alerts notify you of the new brand mentions, articles, and backlinks by email.

Supported social media platforms

Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Reddit, the web.

Price

There are four paid options depending on the features you need: Pro at $99/month, Plus at $179/month, Large at $299/month, and Enterprise at $499/month.

Free trial

There’s a two-week free trial and Buzzsumo also offers free plan limited to five searches a day.

3. Mention

Mention is one of the veterans of social media listening industry: the company was founded in 2012 and has been providing social media listening services since then. Mention prioritizes real-time social monitoring — once you set up an alert, you’ll get mentions not older than 24 hours. Historical data is only available in the Custom plan upon request.

Main features

Social Mention Feed. This tab shows you the social mentions of your keyword(s) appearing in real time. You can filter them by source and type (unread, prioritized, favorited, deleted). You can also mark irrelevant social media conversations which contain your keywords as spam to help Mention figure out which context is not interesting to you.

In the same dashboard, you have the Tasks tab which could be very useful for working in teams.

Influencer search. Similarly to Buzzsumo, Mention searches for Influencers on Twitter and the web. It uses the data from the influencer marketing tool Klout to assign each influencer an Influence score and ranks them accordingly. You can follow or reply to Twitter influencer right from the dashboard.

Competitive dashboard. If you’re monitoring more than one set of keywords, you can compare them against each other to find out your share of voice, compare the positive to negative sentiments ratio, and so on (need I comment saying that you can also do it in Awario?)

What makes it stand out?

Customizable reports. With Mention, you can tweak and modify your reports by including and excluding various metrics. You can also set up automated delivery, for example, to update your marketing team on your overall reach and sentiment dynamics once a week.

API integration. Mention allows you to build their API into your own tool, or embed it into your website. It also helps to collect social media listening data in an Excel sheet or a dashboard tool, which could be useful, if you need all your digital marketing stats in one place.

Mobile app. You can take your social media listening on the go with Mention’s mobile app.

Supported social media platforms

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, news and blogs, the web.

Price

Mention has three plans: Solo for $25 per month, Starter for $83, and Enterprise which cost starts at $600 a month, but depends on how many mentions and features you require.

Free trial

Mention offers a month-long free trial as well as a free social media monitoring tool with a limit of 250 mentions.

You can check out the Awario and Mention comparison here.

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4. Talkwalker

The three tools mentioned above are generally affordable for small businesses, but social listening tools market can also boast Enterprise-level tools (marketing talk for ‘crazy expensive’). Talkwalker is one of the best out of this bunch. It’s robust analytics and plethora of monitored social networks makes it a good choice for a company with a substantial social listening budget.

Main features

Extremely detailed analytics. Talkwalker’s main strength is its analysis of social data: besides typical data, it also breaks down mentions by gender, offers separate dashboards for hashtag analysis, and shows you how content spreads across multiple media types. Moreover, Talkwalker can measure metrics from selected social media profiles to show how much success they had with their social media marketing strategy. Thanks to Facebook Insights integration, you’re able to overlook your own Facebook activity right from the social media monitoring tool as well.

Talkwalker also uses social listening to identify influencers in a required niche.

Grouping. It’s likely that if you’re investing in a pricy tool, you’re going to work with a big amount of social data and several projects. That’s why Talkwalker does everything to make your workflow more smooth: you can group and organize your mentions and projects however you please.

Customizable and automated reports. You can use one of the thirty templates based on different use cases or create your own unique report. All the analytics available in Talkwalker are exportable in various formats. You can also create a separate dashboard with all the data you want to share: this could come in handy when you, for example, need to share the data around a marketing campaign and showcase how it affected general brand awareness.

What makes it stand out?

With social media monitoring tools like Talkwalker, there are plenty of advanced qualities, but most of them are just improvements on the existing features: deeper analytics, a wider range of social channels, more options to visualize data. However, one feature, in particular, deserves all the spotlight.

Image and video recognition. Image recognition is not a completely innovative feature for Enterprise-level tools, but video recognition is completely unique to Talkwalker. The social media monitoring tool finds your logo on images and in videos and collects them along with other social media mentions.

Supported social media platforms

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Instagram, Flickr, Foursquare, Instagram, Soundcloud, Vimeo, Dailymotion, Weibo, news sources, the web.

Price

The prices start at $9,600 per year for a basic plan, you can upgrade from there depending on your budget and needs.

Free trial

Talkwalker doesn’t offer a free trial, however, it does provide free social media monitoring tools. Talkwalker Alerts allows you to set up alerts for your keywords similarly to Google Alerts but for social media. Free Social Search enables you to check some key stats around your keywords and hashtags. You can request a demo to get the full Talkwalker experience.

5. Zapier

Plot twist: Zapier is not a social media monitoring tool, it’s not even a social media tool… but it can be! That and much more!

If you haven’t heard of Zapier before, it’s an integration tool that enables you to automate various tasks on the Internet including collecting mentions from Twitter, Instagram, and the web through Zaps.

Main features

So there are three ways to do social media monitoring with Zapier:

  • You can connect Twitter to your Gmail, Hipchat or Chatter and receive notifications whenever your keyword is mentioned on Twitter. This makes tracking brand mentions on Twitter easy. You’ll also get daily, weekly, and monthly email summaries of those mentions. Exporting mentions is also made possible with Google Spreadsheet integration.

  • You can receive mentions from the websites which has RSS feed or API and collect those mentions in a Google Spreadsheet or get notified through email.

  • You can integrate Instagram and Slack to get notified every time someone posts a specific hashtag.

What makes it stand out?

Well, the workflow with Zapier is completely different, but where it really shines is in its versatility. I know I talked a lot about how versatile social media listening tools are, but with Zapier you can automate more than a 100 tasks and data collection is simply one of the many applications there is for this tool.

Supported social media platforms

Twitter, Instagram, the web.

Price

Zapier provides two price ranges: for individuals and for teams. The individuals one starts with $20/ month and grows with the number of integration available, the teams one start at $250 but you can add more integrations and features which will affect the price.

Free trial

There’s a free version of the tool with 5 integrations available and you can try each plan for free for 14 days including plans for teams and companies.

These are five very different social media monitoring tools for any goal and any budget. Every monitoring tool has something unique to offer, so I hope you found exactly what will help you improve your social media marketing strategy on this list (and I also hope you’ll give Awario a try)!