Social media listening guide Talkwalker

Social media listening guide header image - virality map

Try the best social listening tool!

As a consumer, I have some words of wisdom to share with brands. If I have a problem with your product – I won’t email and be ignored, nor phone and join a queue – I’ll leap onto the social media stage with my megaphone. Once on that stage - with my global audience listening – I'll share my opinion of your brand and poor customer service.  

You'll miss conversations that could damage your brand's reputation. And, you'll miss positive reactions and feedback that could inspire your campaigns.

Half of worldwide marketers started using social media listening to understand consumers' changing preferences and behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic.

It’s time start listening.

Dove Keep They Grey social media campaign virality map showing how the campaign went viral online.

Talkwalker's Virality Map of Dove's #KeepTheGrey tweet shows how the campaign went viral online.The campaign collected over 8K online mentions with two-third having positive sentiment.

Dove, a US personal care brand, launched its #KeepTheGrey social media campaign in September 2022. Its aim was to shift the perception of grey hair and fight ageism in the workplace. The inspiration for this campaign was the firing of Lisa LaFlamme, a TV journalist, after she let her hair turn grey.

Dove changed the color of its logo and encouraged other brands to do the same. With 5K likes on Instagram and 20K engagements on Twitter, the campaign instantly went viral.

You need a social media listening strategy. My social listening guide will walk you through all you need to know - what social listening is, what it can bring to your brand and business, and how to get started.

Expert opinions of our social listening guide

Lilach Bullock
"If you’re using social media marketing, but you’re not listening to your audience - it’s time to start. In this extremely in-depth guide, you’ll learn what social media listening is, why you should be listening to your audience and exactly how to it. And if there’s anyone who knows their stuff when it comes to social listening, it’s definitely Talkwalker!"  Lilach Bullock  | Lead Conversion Expert, Speaker, Social Media Specialist |

Table of contents 

1. What is social media listening?
2. What’s the difference between social media listening & social monitoring?
3. Why is social media listening important?
4. Examples of social media listening
5. How to use social media listening?
6. Who can use social media listening?
7. How can social media listening help your business?
8. Five social media listening tips
9. Social media listening report
10. What are social media listening tools?
11. Social listening tool features
12. What sites & social networks can I monitor?
13. Best social media listening tools
14. Brands using social media listening
15. Are you listening? Are you really listening?

1. What is social media listening?

Social media listening is about finding and tracking online conversations. Conversations around keywords, phrases, and events. Conversations about your brand and business, about your industry, and about your competitors. Listening to conversations will help you find consumer insights to ensure your marketing strategy is data led. 

It’s that simple.

Social listening began as an early warning system for communication teams, looking to avoid a crisis. Marketing teams quickly recognized the significance of social media listening and began using social listening tools to find insights that would improve their marketing campaigns and enable them to find new ways to outreach and engage with consumers. 

Customer service/support teams followed and the full potential of social listening was realized.

It’s become the norm for consumers to, rather than email or phone customer support, ask for help on social media channels. If a brand isn’t using social listening, these minor issues can quickly blow up into a major PR crisis. 

For marketers, monitoring this information will reveal new opportunities. Finding the words and phrases that consumers are using means content can be written that’ll resonate and talk the same language.

Brands can join conversations, and because they’ve listened, they can provide real help and advice, plus offer products that consumers are asking for, rather than thinly disguised sales messages and products destined to fail.

Brand visibility will improve, trust will increase, and this’ll lead to an increase in qualified leads and a reduction in customer churn.

It's important to remember that social media listening works across all industries. We're all looking to understand consumers so we can deliver on their expectations. Take a look at Social media listening by industry for examples of different industries using social listening.

2. What's the difference between social media listening and social monitoring?

Managing a successful social media strategy needs robust analytics and an eye for detail.

Social media listening and social monitoring tools will help you understand the mood of consumers. When to offer advice. When to have a laugh. When to apologize. When to just stop talking and listen.

Social media listening definition

Social media listening analyzes online conversations, collecting insights that'll help you make data-driven business decisions.

It enables you to understand how consumers perceive your brand, you competitors' activities, and your market. 

Why not use surveys or focus groups?

Social listening is faster and covers more ground. Feedback is in real time. Benefits to your brand include...

  • Mentions increasing or decreasing
  • Whether consumers love or hate your content
  • Buying behavior 
  • Find niche groups of fans and create target content
  • Understand whether a campaign is working, and stop or pause to fix
  • Identify negative comments that could lead to a PR crisis

Social monitoring definition

A social monitoring strategy tracks incoming mentions - topics, brands. You can use a tool like Talkwalker Alerts to automate the process. You'll then receive alerts in real time, which will enable you to respond quickly to potential issues. Set up your monitoring system to include all misspellings, visual inclusions of your brand, slang references, etc. 

Dan Neely, CEO of Networked Insights, sums up the difference between social media listening and social monitoring best…

"Monitoring sees trees; listening sees the forest."

Put simply...

  • Social media monitoring is the first step in your social listening strategy. You’re gathering all your social mentions and actions, i.e., likes, volume of buzz, sentiment, share of voice, shares, retweets, etc.
  • With social listening, you can identify and analyze. You’ll be able to look for patterns, track sentiment, analyze the individual comments, identify influencers, and view overall themes that are driving results.

3. Why is social media listening important?

Social media listening is not to be taken lightly, it’s more than checking your notifications every five minutes and monitoring your @mentions.

And, take note... 30% of tweets that mention a brand don't use the brand’s Twitter handle. They forget or don’t bother to include the @ symbol. Bravo... you’ve been diligently checking your @mentions, whilst you let 30% of possible engagement opportunities slip through your fingers.

Don’t jump to the conclusion that consumers aren’t using your Twitter handle on purpose. They're not necessarily ignoring you. Plus, some consumers have fat fingers and will misstype your brand name. Brand name misspelled, consumers will still expect you to respond. Best track those spelling variations.

Hey, life’s not fair and consumers make up their own rules.

But beyond making sure you’re catching all mentions of your brand, think in terms of customer service, influencers, and performance opportunities for your brand.

Improve customer service – turning negative situations into positive

Your brand, products, and services are what count when it comes to social listening for customer service. You have to be aware of each time a consumer mentions your brand, and respond quickly.

For example, on Twitter, 60% of customers expect brands to respond to their queries within an hour. The same study shows that a friendly customer service, could encourage 76% of customers to recommend a brand.

Consumers want to interact with brands on social. They’re looking for a direct response to a problem or question. Hard as it was in the past to track customer complaints, social listening tools help brands find consumer interactions and become more involved in the customer experience.

  • The survey also found that...
  • 31% of consumers interact with brands on social to gain direct access to customer services and product experts
  • 81% of Twitter users expect a same-day response to questions and complaints
  • 3% expect an answer within 30 minutes
  • 29% of consumers on Facebook expect a response within two hours when they ask a question

You must start listening!

Having a social media listening strategy will ensure that you don’t miss these attempts at interaction, that you can help existing customers whilst winning new ones.

A social media listening tool will track mentions of your brand, your product, your competitors, and your industry. You’ll learn what your target audience likes and dislikes.

Make sure you track all the variations of your brand name, with and without the @symbol, along with common misspellings, e.g. talkwaler, talkwater, tallwalker. Cover all your bases and you’ll never miss an opportunity to engage with a consumer.

Identifying influencers

Why are influencers so vital to your brand?

  • 74% of consumers rely on social media to guide purchasing decisions
  • According to Nielsen, 90% of consumers trust peer recommendations, whilst only 33% trust ads

Simple as that, influencers’ opinions are highly rated, consumers listen to them. You need these guys on your side, talking about your brand and products - so engage with them.

Track hashtags, keywords, & phrases

Working on a new campaign? Find the best hashtags, keywords, and phrases to write better content. A social listening tool will also monitor all that’s being said about your campaign

Track top hashtags and media types as part of your social media listening strategy.

Use social listening to find the best hashtags, keywords, and phrases to target your marketing content.

You can also track phrases and find potential consumer pain points. For instance, you could track the phrase, “brand X isn’t working”, and be notified if it appears. You’ll then be able to address the issue immediately.

A fast response demonstrates that you’re looking out for consumers, you’ve got their back.

Real-time feedback & business opportunities

Using social listening tools, you’ll have access to real-time feedback which will help to improve business processes and product development.

Rresearch company Clutch's - Why Businesses Should Perform Social Listening: 2017 Survey - states that 25% of respondents say the biggest benefit of social listening is to improve products and services.

Hilton Hotels listens to customers on Twitter: they track phrases like “where should I go on my next vacation”, and then respond directly with suggestions, dropping links to their destinations.

4. Examples of social media listening

Let’s take a look at examples of social media listening being used by a brand to grow its business and community.

Taco Bell

The Mexican food chain uses social media listening to be inspired by consumers, engage with them and build real relationships.

The brand’s social listening strategy includes retweeting positive comments, joining fun conversations, posting messages to encourage engagement, and responding in real-time to customer complaints.

With other brands joining the fun.


Untagged mention.


28 minutes later.


No brand mention.


Immediate response. 

5. How to use social media listening

Set your goals!

First up, decide your social media listening objectives…

Improve customer service

Keeping your customers happy is vital. Some would say, more important than winning new ones. Providing the best customer service on social media will protect your customer base. 

Social media listening will help you understand your customers' problems. Monitor your brand - tagged and untagged - in reviews, forums, audio, images, video, and on social media comments. 

Include misspellings of your brand name and products. Use sentiment analysis to find positive and negative feedback, to identify unhappy customers and resolve their issues quickly.

Understand your competitors

Competitive analysis has to be a part of your social listening strategy. Track keywords that relate to your competitors to understand their behavior, how they engage with consumers, their marketing strategy, and any future plans. 

You should also track keywords that relate to any negative feedback about your products, and those of your competitors. This data will enable you to draw up a strategy that'll meet new customer demands and potentially, win customers from the competition. 

Identify influencers

94% of marketers say they use influencer marketing because it drives 11x more ROI than traditional marketing.

Social media listening can track influencers that are sharing your content, ad campaigns, and posting reviews. This data will help you find influencers that your business can work with to further promote your products. 

Once you’re working together, social listening can monitor your influencers to ensure that they’re staying on track with regard to your influencer marketing strategy.

Analyze your audience

If you want consumers to buy your products, you have to understand their needs. You might think your new product is a cracker, but if consumers don't…

Analyzing your audience will reveal the demographics - age, gender, location, etc., - when they're online, which platforms they're using, what makes them happy, and their pain points.

Using Talkwalker’s consumer intelligence platform, you’ll understand how your audience feels with our Blue Silk™ AI-enabled sentiment analysis. The negative and positive. You can then plan promotional strategies that target a specific segment of your audience with personalized messaging. 

Generate more leads

Your social media listening strategy can help generate new leads for your business and increase engagement with potential customers. Identify the keywords that consumers use when searching for products or services that are similar to yours.

Track these keywords online, to understand what consumers are asking for and what they expect from a brand and its products. Reach out to the consumers - using their language - and talk to them about their needs. Offer a free demo.

Set the terms to be monitored across websites, blogs, news sites, reviews, forums, podcasts, and social media...

  • Products and brand mentions - understand the sentiment behind conversation surrounding your business - include brand name, hashtags, product names, common misspellings
  • Product and brand mentions combined with service-related words - not working, failed, help, expensive, slow delivery
  • Events related to your company - product releases, industry terms and topics, PR crisis

Choose which data sources you need to track. Don’t overwhelm your team by collecting data from every source available.

Track the channels where your target consumers are talking, and the big networks - Twitter, Facebook, Weibo, etc.

The social listening data you find will help you drive...

  • Brand experience - how you're perceived by consumers
  • Customer experience - what customers love and hate about your products
  • Crisis management - spot an emerging crisis and react in real time before it damages your brand reputation
  • Competitive analysis - monitor your competitors to find challenges and new opportunities for growth
  • Content strategy - identify trending topics that can be used in future messaging and content
  • Influencer marketing - find influencers with followers relevant to your products, and build relationships

6. Who can use social media listening?

Anyone. Everyone. All of you.

Social media listening isn’t restricted to certain industries. Businesses of any size can and should use social listening.

Social listening will help you understand consumers. What they’re saying, and what they’re thinking. About you and your competitors. You’ll identify consumer data that’ll help you measure brand awareness and ways to improve your communication and products. Social media listening will save your company time and money.

If the following are important to your business, a social media listening strategy will keep you on track…

  • Brand health - brand equity, brand awareness - evaluate your brand health with performance benchmarking.
  • Brand reputation - tracking the volume and sentiment of conversations, to address spikes in negative mentions immediately.
  • Impact of marketing and PR campaigns - monitor your campaigns, product launches, events, etc., to find real-time consumer insights, sentiment, and user-generated feedback.
  • Competitor analysis - competitive intelligence on how many customers they have, influencers, revenue, social media strategy, paid ads, PR tactics, customer sentiment towards their brand and products.
  • Find the best influencers - those talking about your brand and products, or those in your industry working with your competitors.
  • SEO - while it's called social media listening, you can monitor the web as a whole - news sites, review sites, forums, blogs, etc. Find mentions of your brand without links. Monitor industry keywords to find high ranking sites that you can approach for link building.
  • Targeted content - use social listening to monitor industry trends, events, key people, that can drive your content strategy.

7. How can social media listening help your business?

The stats and insights collected by social listening tools will help your company evaluate its activities and feed your overall social media strategy.

Audience segmentation and influencer analysis will identify the highest potential markets and groups to target. Insights will include the best time periods for engagement, stats about share, sentiment, reach, and impact.

Tracking these insights means you can judge brand visibility and perception before and after your campaigns, so you can evaluate their effectiveness and adjust for future campaigns. You’ll also be able to identify and analyze trends and drive product development ideas.

Leading conversations & crisis management

There’re no two ways around it, you have to respond to questions and complaints; and, it has to be fast. By responding, you’re demonstrating to a global audience that your company is attentive to consumer needs, that you care about your customers and want to help. Brands should be prepared to tackle issues, put out fires. You can prepare statements in advance, but avoid automated responses – no one wants to talk to a robot.

Analysis of past performance

Before spending thousands on your latest promoted tweet, look at past stats, at the ROI on previous marketing campaigns. Your new campaign can be fine-tuned according to what worked and what didn’t.

Competitive benchmarking

Don’t restrict your listening to consumers, you should listen to what your competitors are talking about, and what’s being said about them by their customers. Are their marketing campaigns doing better than yours? Why? Consumers like your products, but they love those of your competitors. Why? Listen!

Crowdsourcing for better product development

Listen in real-time to what’s being said about your business and your products. Do consumers like them, use them, do they recommend them? Are they talking about ways they could be improved, products they’d like to see your brand implement? Jump into these conversations and don’t just sell - ask questions, engage.

Finding influencers

Consumers listen to influencers, they trust them. You can identify these brand advocates with social listening tools. How many followers they have, the metrics behind their engagement including likes, comments, and retweets. Engage with these influencers and build relationships.


Influencer Network for Fantasy Premier League showing influencers contributing to the amplification of the content. Social listening guide.

Talkwalker's Influencer Network shows the prevalence of the Premier League's owned content when it comes to engagement, though there is a tight community of FPL influencers contributing to the amplification of that content.

8. Five social media listening tips

I'm going to share 5 social listening tips to get you started...

1. Know what to listen to

First up, find out where your audience is talking, and monitor any where there are conversations about your brand, competitors, industry. You should listen out for...

  • Mentions of your brand, social media handle - @Talkwalker - product names, and services
  • Your slogan, tagline
  • Topics relating to your brand - social listening, consumer intelligence
  • Branded hashtags, unbranded hashtags, campaign names, industry buzzwords, and keywords relevant to your brand
  • Keep people in your company - CEO, CTO, CMO
  • All the above, for your competitors

2. Monitor trends, influencers, and news related to your industry

To stay top of mind with your consumers you have to understand the latest industry trends. This'll give you the full picture of...

  • Gaps in your industry that your brand could fill
  • What your consumers are currently interesting in
  • Economic issues that could impact your business, industry, consumers, or market
  • Causes that matter to your consumers
  • Influencers popular in your industry

3. Monitor 'hidden' brand mentions

There are several reasons why you could miss mentions. To avoid missing them, monitor for...

  • Misspellings of your brand, products, services
  • Untagged mentions on social media
  • Slang or abbreviated use of your brand name - McDonald's & McDo, Marks and Spencer & M&S
  • Images of your logo in photos or videos

4. Learn from your competitors

Use social listening to monitor your competition and understand what's working for them and what's not, so you can refine your own marketing strategy...

  • If they're running a successful campaign, understand why and try to outplay them
  • If one of their campaigns is failing, create something better and target their consumers
  • Listen to what your competitors' customers are saying to find new opportunities

5. Share your social listening tool

Don't restrict use of your social media listening tool. Teams across your business can gather beneficial data that'll feed your marketing campaigns, content strategy, product development, customer service. With all your teams using a single source of truth, you'll be equipped to provide faster responses to customer comments, requests, complaints, and reviews. 

9. Social media listening report

Your social media listening report will help you understand what consumers are saying about your brand.  How your social media campaigns are performing, and those of your competitors. And, changes in your industry.

How you create your report will depend on your audience, business goals, and what results you want to prove. Essentially, your social listening report will translate social media metrics into data that'll be understood across the board. Proving the value of your social media strategy.

Using social listening to track your social media campaigns - owned and paid - will show you what's working and what isn't. Which channels are working for your brand. What content is resonating with your audience and bringing high engagement. 

For a more in depth look at how to create a social media listening report, take a look at my detailed guide.

1. Identify your audience

Your team? Your boss? The board?

Not every team needs the same data. Depending on which team the report is for, this will help you decide on your goals.

2. Set your goals

What are you looking to prove?

Choose the social media KPIs and metrics that matter to your business strategy, and your audience. Be wise. Don't get overwhelmed with data.

3. Ask SMART questions

What questions do you want to answer?

For instance, if you're creating a report for a specific event, your question could be - how much engagement was driven with your target audience?

If you're creating a research report, your question could be - what do consumers in the US want in their 50s from a fashion brand?

4. Select which metrics to track

What results do you want and which social networks do you use?

Measure the metrics that will inform your decision making...

  • Leads
  • Conversions
  • Reach & impressions
  • Volume
  • Engagement
  • Audience
  • Content
  • Click-thru & bounce rate
  • Share of voice - SOV

5. Choose your reporting timeframes

Are you reporting for an event, a quarter, a specific campaign?

For instance, for a campaign related report, you'll need to set benchmarks before it launches, so you can track improvements.

10. What are social media listening tools?

Social media listening tools identify all that’s being said about a company, individual, product, or brand on the Internet. They capture online conversations based on specific search queries and provide key insights through the analysis of those conversations.

All the conversations on the Internet produce huge amounts of unstructured data. That’s to say, data that isn’t held in a database or some type of data structure. The data can be textual or non-textual.

Because there’s so much data, it’s imperative that goals are set before starting your social listening strategy. Depending on your goal, the best option might be a free tool like Talkwalker Alerts, or you could pay for a tool that provides a business intelligence process designed to answer specific questions. 


Talkwalker Alerts as part of your social media listening strategy.

Talkwalker Alerts - free social media listening tool.

11. Social listening tool features

What makes a good social media listening tool?

You have to define your goals before you begin a social media listening initiative. Only once you’ve set your goals, should you make your choice. Take a look at these key features. They’re the vital components that make up a good social media listening tool. 

Data coverage

Encompass your entire social presence online, in multiple languages, whether textual or with image recognition/visual listening.

Every day over one billion images are posted online and social networks, of these, 80% make no mention of brand names in the content. Most monitoring tools on the market simply scan the content published online, which means you’re missing all those images referencing your brand.

The Talkwalker platform has fully integrated visual listening. Key features include a database of 30,000+ brand logos, along with scenery and objects, the ability to add logos, and AI-powered technology that learns over time.

Dry January 2022 - a New Year's resolution where people pledge not to drink alcohol for a month - inspired 132.7K global conversations, with 27.1% positive sentiment.

Talkwalker's social listening tool - Conversation Clusters - Dry January - showing the chat surrounding the January pledge.

Talkwalker's Conversation Clusters shows chat was about healthy habits and the search for the best non-alcoholic drinks.

Image recognition user generated content - social listening guide - surrounding Dry January - various brands shared online.

Talkwalker's AI-enabled image recognition found various brands among conversations surrounding Dry January.

Data latency – receive data in real-time. Not near-time, not some-time, but real-time. As previously mentioned, 60% of customers on Twitter expect a brand to respond to their queries within an hour.

76% of users are likely to recommend a brand if they’ve received friendly customer service on Twitter. If you were unhappy with a product and posted a question to the brand, how long would you be prepared to wait?

For crisis management, only a real-time social listening tool is worth considering. To stop a crisis escalating, it has to be identified and dealt with immediately.


Talkwalker Alerts (similar to Google Alerts, but in my humble and biased opinion, superior), will notify you by email when one of your search terms appears online.

Whether on social media, a website, a blog post, news feed, or review site. You can also upgrade and create a report of your alerts which can be downloaded as HTML, Word, PPT, or PDF – and share across your company. 

Quick alert creation Talkwalker - social listening guide

Talkwalker Alerts - social media listening.

Automated reporting functions

Easily and quickly export data into downloadable reports to share across your enterprise.

API – the Talkwalker API allows you to integrate data streams into your CRM, business intelligence, or a custom-made solution. Plus, image recognition technology, intelligent alerts for crisis management, and enhanced sentiment analysis.

Sentiment analysis

Multiple languages, view results by country, language, or media type.

Talkwalker statistics sentiment analysis - social listening guide

Talkwalker sentiment analysis social listening tool.

Influencer tracking and analysis

Filter results by country, language, media, reach, engagement rate, number of posts, and sentiment. Which hashtags they’re using, which channels they’re being picked up by. Team it up with a virality map and find the viral reach.

Trend analysis and historical data coverage

AI-powered social listening tools to detect trends. Trending score and trend prediction graphs so you know the ideal moment to jump on a trend. Quick Search - a real-time search engine - finds trending stories to create viral content. 

Talkwalker Quick Search for consumer trend analysis, shows results over thirteen months - 2.9M results around air fryers, with spikes seen in Q1 2021 as people are stuck in lockdown.

Quick Search results over 13 months show 2.9M results around air fryers, with spikes seen in Q1 2021 as the appliance along with OTT platforms became essential during lockdown. 

Data visualization

Comprehensive data visualization tools will offer word clouds, emoji theme clouds, virality maps, time lapse graphs, crisis dashboards.

Competitive benchmarking

Discover how you rank compared to other brands in your industry - the competition. You’ll find key metrics on how they’re positioning their products, what messaging is working for them, plus feedback from their customers.

Media amplification. Competitor analysis for social media listening,  in simulated Talkwalker report. Coke vs Pepsi.

Talkwalker simulated report - include competitor analysis in your social media listening strategy to compare market impact.

Predictive analytics

Social data used for predictive analytics to learn purchase-intent for products and advanced sentiment analysis that will help predict stock fluctuations.

Campaign management

Monitor up to two years of campaign buzz, engagement, and reach across all major social media networks, blogs, forums, news sites, and more. Find patterns and compare results, filter by language, location, and sentiment. Track in real-time so you can see the impact of your social marketing every day, hour, or minute.

Virality map

Track how your content spreads across the web and social. Why did a post cause such a stir? Who shared the story and where? Which PR outlet picked it up, which influencer helped it spread?

Talkwalker’s virality map demonstrates exactly how a successful tweet, post, article, etc., spreads across different media platforms. How it went viral. 

social media analytics virality map - social listening guide

Talkwalker virality map - deep listening tool.


You can see all the data and analytics that matter and get them sent to your inbox daily.

12. What sites & social networks can I monitor?

The sites and social networks you can monitor depends on which social media listening tools you’ve chosen to work with. Evaluate multiple tools and compare. How many websites do they crawl? Data souces? How many social networks? How many languages do they speak?

Select the right social listening tool and you’ll be able to track media across many different sites including forums, news feeds, blogs, review sites, and the major social media networks.

If, for instance, you choose to work with Talkwalker you'll be able to monitor…

  • Major social media platforms, including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Weibo, Mixcloud, Flickr, Foursquare, Soundcloud, Vimeo, etc.
  • Review sites, including Amazon, ReviewTrackers, Trustpilot, Google Play Store, TripAdvisor, etc.
  • Online news, blogs, forums and message boards, etc.
  • Offline media - TV, radio, print, press releases, etc.

If you'd like to learn more about our industry-leading data coverage, I'd recommend that you request a demo of our platform.

What about dark social? For those who don’t know what it is, it’s not the latest goth band to hit the charts. Dark social is when people share content through private channels like instant messaging, messaging apps, and email. This creates traffic that’s harder to track than traffic from your usual social media sites. Harder to track, but not impossible.

If you’d like to read about this phenomenon and the tools that’ll help you measure this traffic, take a look at Dark social: The Black Hole of Your Referral Traffic.  

13. Best social media listening tools

With hundreds of social media listening tools on the market, choosing one can be an arduous task. If you’ve set your goals, you’re half way there. Are you looking to improve your customer service? Do you want to find influencers for your brand? Wondering how your competitors are performing? Ask yourself what you want to do, and then find the tool that can answer your questions.

Looking for the following?

  • Monitoring data comprehensiveness
  • Sentiment analysis
  • How influential are your customers?
  • Location or language requirements
  • Real-time monitoring for crisis management
  • Reporting capabilities for sharing across enterprise
  • Indication of how influential the customers are
  • How much can you afford?

Here’re some tools that you can try. Not all free, they do offer free trials so you can try before you buy. There are recommendations from experts in social media, just to prove how good they are.

Talkwalker’s Free Social Search 

free social media search - social listening guide

Talkwalker Free Social Search.

Talkwalker is primarily a paid enterprise social listening platform but we have a free version. Take a look at what it offers.

  • Hashtag tracking - find the best fit for your content and monitor competitors’ hashtags
  • Campaign tracking – identify where your campaign is making an impact on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, online news, blogs, and forum
  • Event performance - real-time insights about your event, from what's being talked about to the most popular posts using your event hashtag
  • Brand reputation - discover KPI metrics that include social mentions, sentiment, engagement, and reach over the last seven days, or even minute by minute

Track your favorite hashtags Now!


Buzzsumo social media monitoring tool homepage - social listening guide

Includes features for monitoring your activity on social media, including the content virality search. Simply enter a keyword or topic, and find the top-performing blogs, articles, infographics. The trending tab reveals all the social media posts that are trending around a particular topic.

 “I’m a huge fan. I use it to find the most shared content and key influencers in the topics that I’m most interested in. It’s super easy to use, and it has a great visual interface.”

Brandon Schaefer (@talk_w_brandon), CEO at Companeur


Agorapulse social media monitoring tool

Tool for social media marketing, monitoring, and management. It focuses on real-time monitoring of your brand and keywords in Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. You’ll receive alerts when mentions are found, reports on audience, engagement, management, and awareness. Stats can be downloaded to PowerPoint so you can share with your team.

“AgoraPulse is a competitively priced tool with some great functionality. One of the nicest parts of AgoraPulse is that it’s very simple to use.” 

Ian Cleary (@IanCleary), Founder of RazorSocial, social media tools blogger 

Check out Social media listening tools for more details on the best tools on the market.

14. Brands using social media listening

I can keep saying that your business needs social media listening, and how great the Talkwalker consumer intelligence platform is, but I think you'll justifiably stop listening. 

Ironic, no?

So, here are some brand names you've heard of that have already realized the benefits of social media listening; their ears are pinned back, and they’re listening to the voice of the consumer.

HelloFresh | When social listening is the secret ingredient

HelloFresh uses social media listening to find 400% more mentions and detect potential crises.


Initially, HelloFresh performed social listening manually. This led to mentions in which the brand wasn’t tagged being missed. The potential to miss negative social media activity within the industry set alarm bells ringing. As the brand grew, manual social media listening couldn’t cut it. The marketing team had to be more efficient and proactive in managing its online presence and growing community. 


Hello Talkwalker!

Introducing the Talkwalker platform into their marketing strategy meant HelloFresh was able to track over 400% more brand mentions, and build a comprehensive alerting and reporting system to find the most relevant and important posts.

Client reaction

At HelloFresh, data is at the center of everything we do. It was only natural for us to turn to social listening to improve the performance and efficiency of our marketing and communications teams. Talkwalker has allowed us to unlock access to a much larger conversation around our brand than ever before.”

Jordan Schultz - Social Media Manager at HelloFresh

Convosphere | How a pharmaceutical company used social listening to empower patients

Convosphere using social listening to help pharmas gain a deep understanding of patients.


Patients, caregivers, and healthcare professionals are increasingly turning to social media to connect with their peers and swap information and advice. To ensure they're gathering all patient insights, pharmaceutical companies need to move work beyond traditional methods and use social listening to navigate the digital landscape. 


By combining Talkwalker's AI-enabled social media listening capabilities with its analysis framework, social-first insights agency, Convosphere, helped a multinational pharmaceutical brand working in the multiple sclerosis field gain a deeper understanding of the sentiment, motivations, and challenges that MS patients face on a daily basis. 

Client reaction

“This sets the framework for your understanding of the therapeutic area and the language that comes from both a medical perspective, a pharma company perspective and a patient perspective.” 

Jackie Cuypers CEO, Convosphere

Dubai TV Channels Network | How Dubai TV Channels use Talkwalker’s social intelligence to make data-driven decisions

How Dubai TV Channels use Talkwalker's social intelligence to make data-driven decisions


Dubai TV Channel’s digital media team lacked a robust and centralized reporting tool that would allow the team to extract audience insights from social media data. With TV viewers' preferences changing during the COVID-19 lockdown and demanding a personalized experience, Dubai TV Channels needed a social solution to find real-time audience feedback. Alongside the means to measure the performance of their social media marketing campaigns.


Working with Talkwalker’s social intelligence feature, the Dubai TV Channel’s team was able to use find actionable insights derived from viewers' opinions shared in social media conversations. Live data dashboards gave the team access to historical data so it could monitor their shows’ performance over specific time periods. The team was able to make data-driven decisions on content production for future shows.

Client reaction

“In today’s fast paced and dynamic world of media and with our large number of social media accounts on several social media platforms that Dubai TV Channels own, we certainly need to listen to our audience’s conversation and feedback. Talkwalker’s tool is a beneficial and qualitative addition to the digital transformation journey pursued by our Digital Media Department of Dubai Channels. We believe that the use of innovative social intelligence will certainly help us accelerate our data coverage; hence make right data-driven decisions.”

Heba Al Samt, Digital Media Department Director at Dubai TV Channels, of Dubai Media Inc.

15. Are you listening? Are you really listening?

Stop using social media as your personal megaphone, shouting your marketing messages out to consumers – because, to be honest, they’re not listening to you anymore than you’re listening to them.

When you start using social media listening (and, I mean when), your brand, products, services, your business as a whole - will benefit. Customer service will be able to provide quick problem-solving, your R&D team can use consumer feedback to enhance product development, and you can monitor your competitors and learn from their successes and failures.

Once you’ve got yourself on the frontline - actively participating in online discussions - consumers will look out for you, engage with you and share their opinions. You will become an authority in your industry.

Staying at the forefront of your industry, whilst anticipating and exceeding what your customers’ want, is an achievable goal - with social media listening.


Remember… you don’t have to ask what people want, you just have to listen.

Free demo of Talkwalker's social media listening tool

Brandon Schaefer (@talk_w_brandon), CEO at Companeur


Share it