What Is Social Listening?
Social listening is the process of listening to and analyzing conversations happening online about specific topics and keywords.
While social media monitoring is about monitoring conversations happening on social media about your brand (or other topics), social listening allows you to dig much deeper. The scope is larger (you can “listen” across social media, blogs, forums, news sites, and more), and there’s a big focus on analyzing the data and extracting important insights that can help you improve your strategies.
In fact, social listening isn’t just a social media tool, it’s also:
- A content marketing tool
- A lead generation tool
- A market research tool for businesses
- An influencer discovery tool
- A customer service tool
- A competitive analysis and monitoring tool
Now that you understand what social listening is, here’s a look at four social listening tools and how you can leverage them for your business.
Awario is a pro social listening tool with a few extra features thrown in such as social selling (and lead generation) and social media management. It’s built for businesses of any size but it has a lot of enterprise-ready features including sentiment analysis, influencer discovery, white-label reports, and mention maps, among others. Plans start at $29/month.
When you set up a search query, Awario lets you use Boolean search operators to make sure your results will be highly targeted. To access this functionality when you set up an alert, click More Options in the alert setup window, as shown above.
Then click Switch to Boolean Search at the bottom of the advanced search window.
Now type in your search query to set up your alert.
Boolean search is one of the features that shows the difference between basic monitoring and pro social listening. It lets you define the terms of your search in great detail:
- What specific keywords you want to track. You can add as many as needed.
- What keywords you want to avoid tracking. Any mentions that include those keywords will be removed from your results.
- What sources you want to focus your search on, if applicable.
To further refine your keyword search, allow mentions that include your keywords even if the keywords are separated by other words; for example, “looking for help with my marketingstrategy, particularly for social media.” In this case, the keywords “social media marketing” are the main words being tracked.
With this level of detail, you can make sure your searches are highly accurate and avoid unnecessary mentions that might influence your insights.
Once your search is complete, use the platform to monitor your results in real time, discover relevant conversations happening in your industry, and set alerts so you’ll know as soon as an important mention requires your attention.
As mentioned earlier, one way to leverage social listening tools is for social selling and lead generation. By closely monitoring conversations happening online, you can find opportunities to sell. To help with this, Awario introduced Awario Leads, a new module to their tool that helps you discover social media leads automatically.
To use it, you first need to create your Leads project. In the Create a Project window, enter the brand name, enter relevant keywords for the product description, and then name your main competitors to get started.
Awario will then pull any relevant social media posts; for instance, any customers who are complaining about one of your competitors or people who are looking for product recommendations (products similar to what you’re selling).
Perfect for: social listening, social selling, reputation monitoring and management, influencer discovery, market research
While Awario stands out for its powerful lead generation and social selling features, Brandwatch is the perfect solution if you’re more interested in the analytics and insights you can get for a search. This makes it an excellent tool for market research, as well as for generating more detailed audience and customer insights to improve your marketing strategies. Pricing information is available upon request.
If you’re not sure where to start, Brandwatch offers Insights Central, a hub where you can find a plethora of pre-built projects for various sectors and industries. You can either use them as inspiration or copy the ones you need directly to your account.
You also have the option to create your own search from scratch. As with Awario, use Boolean search if you want to filter your results. You can create multiple searches and track each one with its own dashboard.
Brandwatch offers dozens of filtering options to further refine your search results. Plus, you can segment your data into different lists (such as by location or author) and create any kind of category you want (such as for grouping conversations based on customer profiles).
In terms of insights, you get access to very detailed data. Brandwatch lets you add the components you want to build your own dashboard. Another feature that makes it stand out is image insights, which is “social media for images.” It will catch any images mentioning your brand (i.e., your brand’s logo) so you can act accordingly. Note that this is a separate module with different pricing.
Perfect for: social listening, social and customer insights, market research, sentiment analysis, reputation monitoring and management, image analysis
Talkwalker is social listening, social media analytics, and influencer marketing software that’s perfect for companies that operate at a global level and want to ensure their brand’s image is protected all over the world. Another way to use it is to monitor your social media KPIs and measure your social media success. Pricing starts at $9,600 yearly.
The tool can monitor the entire web (or about 150 million websites) in real time, in 187 countries. And like Brandwatch, it even helps you monitor visual content so you can find any images with your brand logo. Talkwalker’s biggest selling points, however, are the powerful features for monitoring and managing your brand reputation at a truly global level:
- Create a customized crisis dashboard where you can listen in real time and catch any mentions that need your attention.
- Immediately detect issues based on smart spike analysis. Whenever there’s a spike happening that you need to know about, the tool will immediately let you know about it.
- Analyze sentiment of mentions in 25 languages.
- Create customized instant alerts so you’re immediately notified of any mentions, spikes, or trends that require your attention.
Another feature that makes Talkwalker stand out is the focus on social media analytics, KPIs, and ROI. Use it to closely monitor your campaigns and hashtags, analyze the sentiment surrounding your brand and campaigns, and integrate it with Google Analytics to track your social media ROI.
As you can see above, Talkwalker can even tell you the ROI you’re getting from social media (compared to your target sum or spending on sponsored content), as well as the revenue you’re generating.
To help you manage the incredible amount of data it’s generating, Talkwalker lets you create several dashboards depending on your needs, such as:
- Crisis management
- Social media performance monitoring
- Monitoring and handling customer service issues
- Monitoring specific social networks or channels
- Identifying and monitoring social influencers
Perfect for: reputation monitoring and management, social media analytics and ROI, visual social listening, identifying trends, influencer discovery
Keyhole is a social listening tool but it’s actually quite different from the other tools mentioned in this list. It focuses on monitoring marketing campaigns and hashtags across the web, but with an emphasis on social media channels. This makes it an excellent solution if you want to use social listening primarily for monitoring your marketing campaigns. Pricing starts at $199/month.
With Keyhole, you can track social media campaigns in real time with in-depth analytics. What’s more, the tool uses machine learning to help predict your campaign’s performance in the next day, week, or month. Based on past performance, Keyhole predicts the number of posts, users, engagement, reach, and impressions you can expect from your marketing campaigns.
You can also use Keyhole to track your brand (or your competitors’) in real time across social media channels, news sites, blogs, and forums. It uses machine learning to help you manage your brand’s reputation.
The algorithm can tell if there’s a sudden (or predicted) spike in the monitored activity, if someone complains about your brand, if an influencer you need to know about joins the conversation, or if a post starts going viral so you can catch it at the start.
Another interesting feature is the event monitoring tool. Keyhole will catch and collect any mentions of your event in real time, as well as point out the most influential users talking about your event.
Plus, you can even encourage event attendees to connect with other attendees and share content from the event (live-streaming videos, social media posts, and so on) with a Media Wall. Once the event is over (or even during the event), you’ll get access to your event stats and customizable reports. You can share these with anyone on your team, a manager, or your sponsors.
Perfect for: event management and analysis, marketing campaign and hashtag tracking, online reputation management, market research
At first glance, social listening may seem like it’s mostly a tool for monitoring brand mentions in real time. However, the truth is that it can help you achieve several goals, as mentioned above. But most importantly, it can provide in-depth insights about your industry and audience, and your own digital marketing strategies.
In other words, social listening unlocks important insights and data. Leverage this data so you can ultimately improve your marketing results.
What do you think? Do you use any of these social listening tools? Which ones will you try first? Please share your thoughts below.