The 13 best social media monitoring tools
Social media has evolved from somewhere to post messages, to a game-changing marketing channel that brands are all over. For a successful social strategy, brands should monitor performance with social media monitoring tools. I'm going to explain the why and how SMM will bring success, along with 13 of my favorite social media monitoring tools...
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What is social media monitoring?
Social media monitoring refers to the process of tracking conversations about your brand or a topic across different social media channels, blogs, forums, news, reviews, etc. We’re talking millions of sources here — where people are sharing about their experiences with your product or service.
Quick Search word cloud - top hashtags from ~50M mentions about social media over the past 6 months.
How do you find all these relevant conversations and information online and process them to get useful insights to get a 360 view of your company or brand?
Let me paint a picture for you: how social media monitoring tools work is that they crawl and index these millions of sites and channels. Making it possible for us to search through this overflowing amount of information to find mentions of our brands or specific topics.
Of course, these social media monitoring tools vary from one to another, some are specialized in certain channels, regions or languages, while others have much wider coverage. Ultimately, it is a question of why you’re monitoring social media and what your social media listening strategy is in the first place.
Let’s review what are the more common reasons in which businesses can benefit from using social media monitoring tools.
Why use social media monitoring
There are many benefits to social media monitoring.
According to Smart Insights, 1 in 3 social media users prefers using social media when reaching out to a brand or business for customer service.
More than audience engagement, businesses today are facing an even greater challenge. To be able to monitor customer feedback on social media and publicly respond to any concerns in a timely manner.
Protecting your company’s reputation online. This is one of the most common uses of social media monitoring. As a company, it is not what you say but what your customers say that defines you. The more time your customers spend on social media, the more likely they are to talk about your product or service. And whether they say something positive or negative, is out of your control. Hence, at the most basic level, you should be using Talkwalker Alerts to find whenever your brand is being mentioned online.
Use Talkwalker Alerts to find mentions of your company, brand, executive team, or keyword.
It doesn’t stop there. Social media analytics is useful in gaining detailed insights on what customers are saying about your company, what the sentiment is towards your brand, what the trending topics are in your industry, and how you can stay ahead of the competition.
Here are other uses of social media monitoring:
- Trends analysis
- Hashtag tracking
- Brand listening
- Product strategy
- Campaign management
- Social channel analytics
- Competitive intelligence
- Crisis management
- Customer experience
To help you on your journey, here's a list of social media monitoring tools that’ll give you insights about your business.
Talkwalker Free Social Search | Track campaigns and hashtags
Free Social Search lets you find insights by searching for virtually any topic. It could be your brand, your competitor, a hashtag or any keyword that you’re interested in. Or it could be multiple topics you’d like to compare.
A simple search can instantly show you the number of conversations there are across media types, languages, and countries. Apart from monitoring the actual conversations, you would also be able to see the engagement, sentiment, audience demographics, top themes, and top sharers or influencers. For more focused searches, you can go granular into the data by filtering according to certain parameters like media type or location.
Free Social Search - easy way to search for your company, brand, competitors, industry trends and other keywords.
Buffer Reply | Track social media chat
In the earlier section, I covered how getting feedback from customers is one of the primary benefits of social media monitoring. When you know what customers are saying about your brand, you can put yourself in a better position to jump into those conversations when necessary. Using Buffer Reply, you can monitor the social media chatter across Twitter, Facebook, Messenger, and Instagram, and organize all of these conversations in one inbox for your team to manage.
Buffer Reply - get feedback from customers.
“Do I recommend Buffer? Yes, yes and yes! I love it and it frees up so much of my time. If you’re struggling right now to get a foothold on social media and would like to minimize the effort while amplifying your results, then Buffer is definitely for you. I suggest you start out on a free trial and if you like it, feel free to go on to premium.”
Chris Lee (@chrisleevella), Founder of A Blog On Blogging
TweetDeck | Listen, post, schedule on Twitter
TweetDeck is one of the easiest social media monitoring tools for listening on Twitter. First, all you need is a Twitter account to log in to TweetDeck. Once you’re logged in, you could create lists of Twitter accounts (read: influencers) or search for topics you want to monitor. TweetDeck also lets you post or schedule tweets directly and see all your messages, mentions, and latest posts in your Twitter feed.
TweetDeck - manage multiple Twitter feeds.
"My favorite monitoring tool is TweetDeck. Here I explain how I am using it to track all sorts of mentions including my favorite brand reputation management search trick allowing me to track all sorts of possible mentions of my name. For example, I use: “ann smarty” -> for mentions of my full name, seosmarty -> for mentions of my moniker whenever it happens to be untagged, and -from: @seosmarty -> to exclude my own tweets.”
Ann Smarty (@seosmarty), Founder of myBlogU.com, Brand Manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas
SocialMention | Real-time social search and analysis
Designed like a search engine for social results, SocialMention aggregates content generated around your brand or topic on the web and social media space. It’s useful in giving you a basic overview of top keywords, users, and hashtags associated with the topic you’re searching for. The tool looks a little bit like Google and is just as easy to use.
SocialMention - overview of top keywords, users, hashtags.
Iconosquare | Instagram Analytics - Measure, Understand, Improve
Using social media monitoring tools like Iconosquare, Instagram users can not only view their posts, comments, and followers on a larger screen they can also find analytics and marketing insights such as follower growth, followers global location, comment rate and spread rate - which looks at the levels of engagement your photos are receiving beyond your follower group.
Iconosquare - view posts, comments, followers, analytics, and marketing insights.
You can check out your performance and benchmark against your competitors, track your hashtags, schedule your Instagram posts, and create your own influencer network. Iconosquare even lets you promote your Instagram feed on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and Flickr.
“Easily scan how many likes and comments you had for the month. Then, see how that relates to the previous month. I also love being able to scan and see what your most popular posts were in the last month, in terms of likes and comments.”
Arik Hanson (@arikhanson) on ArikHanson.com
Hootsuite | Social media management
Hootsuite is best known for its social media management platform. From scheduling posts to monitoring keywords, to delegating responses within your team, Hootsuite serves as a central location allowing teams to keep up with messages, comments, replies, and any mentions about your brand.
Hootsuite - social media management platform.
HowSociable | Measure and compare social performance
HowSociable is useful if you’re looking for a way to measure and compare your performance on different social media platforms individually. The tool gives a score for each of these platforms (free up to 12), giving you a way to gauge which platform is working best for you and which one needs improvement.
HowSociable - compare performance on different channels.
Tailwind | Monitor the visual web
Tailwind is specifically designed for monitoring the visual web, particularly Pinterest and Instagram. It lets users monitor you and your competitor’s content as well as emerging trends within the social platform, allowing you to identify opportunities for marketing your brand. Apart from the monitoring, Tailwind also has scheduling and management features.
Tailwind - monitor Pinterest and Instagram.
Hashtagify | Choose the Best Hashtags
Hashtags have become part of our language, #bigtime! They were born on Twitter but have since been adopted by Facebook, Instagram, and Google search. Using a # means your content will be found by anyone interested in your chosen hashtag; they don’t even have to be followers.
The trick is to get your posts noticed by the right audience, the audience that’ll engage with your content.
Hashtagify - choose the best hashtag to optimize your posts's reach.
Whilst there are many social media monitoring tools that’ll help you track and analyze hashtags, Hashtagify will help you choose the best one to optimize your post’s reach. Enter a keyword and Hashtagify will show you the top 10 hashtags; hover over each and you’ll find the relevancy and popularity.
Including the best hashtag can be the difference between your tweet reaching 200 people or 2000. Don’t waste your content; take your time, give Hashtagify a go (it’s a freebie), and find the right one for your needs.
“Hashtagify is great for finding related tags. Simply search on any hashtag and get 10 related tags all for free. If you need more you can upgrade to a paid account. Another way to use this tool is to switch to ‘Table Mode’. This lets you see the popularity of a tag and how closely correlated related tags are.”
Peter Trapasso (@petertrapasso), Social Media Consultant
HubSpot | Marketing automation
HubSpot is a marketing automation software that lets users publish content on a website or on social media. You can then track the performance of these social media posts and channels from within the HubSpot tool and these statistics are made available across your team.
HubSpot - track the performance of your social media posts.
MavSocial | Manage social media presence
MavSocial lets you manage your social media presence and track hashtags, user IDs, or keywords that you want to monitor. Depending on how narrow you want your search to be, you can also filter these searches by excluding keywords, retweets, languages or certain media types.
MavSocial - track hashtags, user IDs, keywords.
AgoraPulse | Community management tool
AgoraPulse is more known as a community management tool. On top of their social media management functionalities, AgoraPulse also enables users a way to schedule posts and monitor their brand and respond to mentions on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube all from within one interface.
AgoraPulse - schedule posts and monitor your brand.
“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
Keyhole | Simple Social Stats on One Page
Real-time Twitter and Instagram metrics to feed your social campaigns, content and digital marketing strategy. Track URLs, hashtags, keywords and @usernames. Keyhole also monitors account activity from Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Social media monitoring tools have to keep up with the times and Keyhole will add more platforms in the future.
Keyhole - Twitter and Instragam metrics to feed your digital marketing strategy.
You can track posts that contain your hashtag and keywords in real-time. On Facebook, monitor your accounts and posts, and those of your competitors. Plus, you can access historical data, such as the first post you published containing your hashtag and/or keyword. Sometimes you need a quick look at the stats around a certain hashtag, brand or topic.
Keyhole gives you these basic social metrics on one user-friendly and real-time dashboard. You can see a graphic showing the total number of posts, engagement rate, reach, and impressions generated by your hashtags. You’ll also find the most shared tweets, a world map of topic mentions, and a theme cloud.
“Keyhole has become one of our favorite social media tracking tools. It provides us with real-time tracks of social activities based on keywords, hashtags, or URL. It helps us understand our community better so that we can identify those who support us and those who engage with us.”
Karlyn Bishop (@vB_Mama) on thesocialmediapanel.com
How to do social media monitoring
Now that you know the tools to help you get started, the next question is: how do you go about monitoring social media?
It starts with the what and the why: what do you want to monitor on social media and why? From there, you should set goals and timeframes for your monitoring. Once all these are in place, you can start tracking activities and mentions.
For example, if you’re tracking a certain campaign, then you could filter through the results according to media types or locations, depending on where the campaign was done. Look through the top themes and influencers to understand the trending topics, what brought the most engagement and how to further fuel the conversations.
After analyzing the different data points, collate the key metrics that you’ve identified into one dashboard so you can compare the results of your campaign alongside your goals. Find other relevant trends that you need to incorporate in this report. When you have every bit of relevant data in one place, share the results with your team or organization.
Here’s an infographic to show you the 10 steps we just went through:
Need more inspiration? Here’s a bonus to keep you inspired. Download free samples of social media reports below and get started in your journey today!