9 of the best social listening tools for brand marketing

Social listening offers marketers a huge opportunity to learn from and engage with customers and potential customers online.

In the simplest sense, social listening is essentially audience research. You monitor your brand’s social media channels for any customer feedback, mentions of your brand and discussions surrounding specific keywords, topics, competitors or industries that are relevant to your brand.

Learn more about social listening, as well as nine tips to leverage it to gain customer insights.

The right tool can make the social listening process more efficient. Keep in mind that many broader social media management tools include social listening capabilities. The following are nine of the best social listening tools that can help you be successful in your efforts.

Sprout Social

This comprehensive social media management platform offers powerful solutions for social listening and more. Sprout Social features include:

  • An integrated social listening tool that uncovers trends in social media conversations, teaches you about your audience and gives actionable insights.
  • The ability to monitor and engage across social media networks.
  • A single Smart Inbox for all direct messages across networks.
  • Easy-to-understand social analytics.

Sprout Social offers a free 30-day trial. Paid plans start at $89 per month.

Hootsuite

Another comprehensive social media management tool, Hootsuite provides a single, customizable dashboard so that you can view and respond to all your social media messages, comments and mentions across multiple networks. Other features include:

  • The ability to share and schedule engaging content for your social media profiles within the application.
  • A single inbox where you can address incoming messages and deliver timely replies.
  • Multiple social network integrations that can be viewed within the interface.
  • Easily monitor mentions and directly respond to them.
  • The option to customize paid social media campaigns with the Boost tool.
  • Customizable analytics reporting.

Hootsuite offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at $49 per month (but a 30-day free trial is available as well).

Falcon.io

Falcon.io is an all-in-one social media management tool and customer experience platform for medium-or-larger-sized businesses. This means that you can schedule, engage, listen, advertise and more. Other features include:

  • A single dashboard for social listening, publishing, engagement, reporting and audience data management.
  • The Engage inbox, which manages all private messaging channels, including WhatsApp.
  • Custom response templates for FAQs.
  • The ability to direct specific external messages to internal team members to collaborate on solutions.

Falcon.io offers a free 14-day trial. Paid plans start at $108 per seat per month.

Buffer

Buffer considers itself an omnichannel experience for your social media marketing. It helps you find the conversations that matter most and join in. Buffer’s other features include:

  • Smart alerts using machine learning let you know at a glance if a post has questions, negative sentiments or comments about a purchase.
  • Scheduling and publishing tools to help you plan effective social media campaigns.
  • Reports and analytics tools that help you measure engagement and audience behavior.
  • A Story-monitoring tool that records and analyzes your Stories on Facebook and Instagram.

Buffer offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at $5 per social channel per month (but a free 14-day trial is available as well).

BuzzSumo

A tool that prioritizes deeper insights is BuzzSumo. You can more easily identify which types of social media posts generate the best results among your audience. In fact, you’ll get recommendations on when you should post and the ideal length of a post. Other BuzzSumo features include:

  • Organization of shared content in order of significance with the Curation tool.
  • The ability to discover relevant influencers for your brand.
  • A significant data analytics suite.
  • A Content Ideas Generator to help you brainstorm new content for your audience.

BuzzSumo offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at $79 per month (but a free 30-day trial is available as well). You also can save by paying annually.

Mention

Mention can track content sources across 42 languages to monitor for brand mentions throughout the globe. Of course, you can filter for what matters most to you. Mention’s other features include:

  • A competitive analysis tool that helps you compare your brand against two or more competitors.
  • A crisis management tool that allows you to effectively manage any uproar or crisis situation on social media.
  • The ability of team members to alert each other within the interface.
  • Comprehensive analytics.

Mention offers a limited free plan. Paid plans start at €29 per month (or about $31 per month). Free trials also are available for the paid plans.

Awario

With a heightened focus on social listening, Awario tracks keywords in a number of languages. You get everything you need to monitor and respond to comments while building relationships with your target audience on social media. Other Awario features include:

  • A Social Selling feature where you can identify posts that request a product recommendation similar to yours and/or any posts about issues that users are having with products sold by your competition.
  • Tracking the growth in the number of your mentions and their collective reach and sorting mentions by positive, negative, and neutral with sentiment analysis, 
  • Identifying top influencers by social media network.

Awario offers a free trial. Paid plans begin at $24 per month when billed annually.

Agorapulse

Agorapulse is a complete social media management software intended to help you leverage social listening and get deeper audience insights. You get a single, unified inbox, as well as the ability to publish on multiple social media platforms. Other Agorapulse features include:

  • Unlimited saved searches where you can discover new feedback and customers.
  • Labeling any important posts, competitor activity and customer feedback for easy retrieval and response.
  • Managing Facebook and Instagram ad comments in chronological order.

Agorapulse offers a free 15-day trial. Paid plans start at $79 per month when billed annually.

Brandwatch

Beyond a social listening tool, Brandwatch is a consumer intelligence platform. It offers an AI analyst, which can automatically bring insights to the surface and save you time. Other Brandwatch features include:

  • Auto-segmentation.
  • The ability to analyze images.
  • Data that helps you fully understand how people aren’t just talking about your brand but how they’re displaying it in images, too.

Brandwatch offers a free demo. Paid plans begin at $800 per month, so it might not be the right fit for small businesses (depending on your budget).

In conclusion

Ultimately, deciding on the best social listening tool comes down to your goals and budget. Make sure you take advantage of any available free trials as needed, or dip your toe in with a limited free version of what seems like the best fit for you. You always can upgrade your plan later.

While you’re at it, make sure you understand the difference between social listening and crowdsourcing.

As you’re exploring these social listening tools, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

9 tips to improve social listening and gain customer insights

Social media is a two-way street. Rather than just posting relevant, engaging content, you also have to listen. Enter social listening.

In the simplest sense, social listening is essentially audience research. You monitor your brand’s social media channels for any customer feedback, mentions of your brand and discussions surrounding specific keywords, topics, competitors or industries that are relevant to your brand.

Social listening is a two-part process. You have the monitoring on the front end, but then you dive deeper with analysis and actionable responses. There’s an engagement there, but also the goal to implement long-term strategy changes based on what you’re learning. 

In other words, your brand is aiming to meet the needs of your customers by listening to and engaging with them (but also tracking and analyzing all that information).

While answering a complaint on social media can increase customer advocacy by about 25 percent, only about 51 percent of brands use social monitoring or listening in any capacity. In fact, about 71 percent of social media marketers say that they are able to provide consumer insights from social media channels to other departments.

Plus, about 46 percent of consumers think that brands engaging with their audiences on social media makes them stand out above all other brands.

By implementing effective social listening into your overall digital marketing strategy, you will:

  • Engage with your customers and target audience more effectively.
  • Discover more and better leads.
  • Learn more about your customers’ needs and problems (that you can help solve).
  • Identify potential brand partners and influencers.
  • Better track your competition.

The following are nine tips to improve your brand’s social listening and gain beneficial customer insights.

Decide what you’re listening to

This sounds a bit simplistic but truly is important to figure out before you dive into social listening. Social media is vast and noisy. You have to focus.

From these ideas, determine what specifically you’ll be looking for:

  • Direct mentions of your brand. Are there any variations that could be used?
  • Your brand’s social media handle. Include any sub-accounts as well.
  • Any specific product (or even service) names.
  • Specific hashtags.
  • Relevant-to-your-brand keywords.
  • Names of key people in your company (such as your CEO or anyone public-facing).
  • Topics that relate to your brand.
  • Your competition (which should include the same breakdown as your doing for your own brand).

This will help you get started in a more efficient manner so that you can gain more consistent and relevant insights over time.

Look beyond your immediate social media presence

While we wish all conversations about our brands could happen on our posts, through direct mentions or in our incoming messages, that’s simply not the case. Think beyond all of that.

You want to keep in mind that social media users won’t always tag you, that they could misspell your brand name or even use an abbreviation or shortened version of your brand name (Coke, for example, rather than Coca-Cola).

Be strategic about keywords and topics

Definitely put time and research into the keywords and topics you ultimately track and follow. They will evolve over time, of course. But investing in picking the most relevant ones now will only give you better data and insights along the way.

Check out these 11 free keyword research tools that can help you in this process.

Use social listening to identify pain points

If you’re mostly using social listening to understand what your customers are saying about you, you’re missing a larger opportunity. That is to identify the problems and challenges that your target audience is experiencing.

This likely won’t come up because of a brand mention, but rather relevant keywords. Either way, it’s important to understand the bigger picture as far as the potential gaps in your industry or product.

Once you understand the gap, then you can work on the bridge that will make you the best brand for them.

Join in on conversations about the latest trends and news

Obviously, you want to monitor and track all the relevant conversations going on in your industry but go beyond that.

This is a great engagement opportunity that shows the relevancy of your brand. By offering a slice of your expertise where relevant, you easily can reach new users, grow brand trust and loyalty and even discover a new brand partner along the way.

Use empathy when engaging in a new conversation

Keep in mind that while engagement is key in any successful social listening strategy, users might not expect you to join in on their conversation, particularly if they didn’t tag you.

But regardless of whether you’re tagged or not (expected or not), you must empathize. Is the sentiment of the conversation positive or negative?

If it’s positive, thank them and make sure you understand the specifics surrounding their positive impression. If it’s negative, still thank them, but you’ll especially want to dig deeper into what led to the negative impression. Was it a specific feature of your product (or service)? See our 11 tips for best responding to any type of negative review.

Remember that the key to social listening is actually listening. Leave your personal feelings aside. You’re arriving at the conversation to better understand and help if possible.

Prompt responsiveness is everything

Staying on top of your social listening means that you can be proactive and get ahead of any negative sentiments before they escalate. (You’re not waiting for someone to finally reach out to you if they do at all.)

If at all possible, aim to respond within 30 minutes or at least within 24 hours. Make sure you’re responding to everyone equally (not just the positive comments, for example).

Keep an eye on your competitors

Social listening can help you better understand what’s working (and not working) for your competitors.

When you see something that’s working, what can your brand do to outperform them? Don’t just copy them. Think about how you can do something that’s better and more valuable to your target audience.

And when you see something that’s not working, determine how you can fill that gap for potential customers.

Use the right tools

The power of your social listening often comes down to using the right tools. Most major social media platforms (such as Facebook, Instagram and Twitter) do have built-in features that include search functionality, audience insights data and trending data.

However, a third-party tool might be ideal if you’re using multiple social media platforms so that everything can be found in one place, may offer more detailed insights and can even provide some automation capabilities. Some examples include:

In conclusion

Social listening can be powerful for your brand when done right. Start simple by identifying the mentions, keywords and so on that are most important to you. Track your insights, and make sure they are communicated to the appropriate departments in your company.

In this new-ish digital-focused world, you’re often only as strong as your understanding of your customers.

Learn about the difference between social listening and crowdsourcing.

As you’re diving into social listening, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.

7 tips to help you determine your target audience

Even if you could afford to target everyone, it’s not a good idea. 

Why? Because the success of our digital marketing (and business) happens based on determining our target audience and creating a strategy focused on reaching that group of consumers.

And no small business can afford to target everyone.

The way small businesses can compete is by identifying and targeting a niche market that makes sense for the products and services that are offered.

Even if you’re opting to say that you target “stay-at-home moms” or “homeowners” rather than “anyone interested,” that’s still too general.

But keep in mind that specific targeting is not intended to officially exclude people who don’t fall within your target. Rather, it’s about reaching the right group (who is more likely to buy from you than other groups) with the right message for them at that moment.

About 40.5 percent of consumers say they prefer seeing online ads for products targeted to their interests rather than random ads.

Of course, the importance of a target audience goes beyond marketing and actually plays a key role in your business plan that can be used to secure financing as well, as explained by the U.S. Small Business Administration.

The following are seven tips to help you determine the target audience for your business.

Examine your customer base

It’s important to start by digging deeper into your customer database. Ask yourself:

  • Who are your current customers?
  • Why do your current customers buy from you?
  • Which customers bring in the most business (i.e. are the most loyal)?

Be sure to take note of all common characteristics and interests among your best customers. It’s very likely that similar consumers would also benefit from your products and/or services as you’re looking at getting specific with your target audience.

A customer survey can help supplement some of the more detailed information about your customers. In addition, consider examining your social media following. Most platforms have various tools to better understand your audience, including:

Conduct a competitive analysis

Understanding who your competitors are targeting and who their current customers are can help give you insight into targeting opportunities. 

This is not because you should similar target the same group. You definitely should not.

Instead, understanding who’s being targeted by your competitors can help you find a niche they might be missing (and that you can hone in on).

Dive deeper into what a competitive analysis entails, as well as 16 tools to help you conduct one as efficiently and effectively as possible.

Doing so will help you gain insights into the audiences your competitors are after.

Analyze your products and/or services

Take the time to review everything you offer as a business. You can do this in a structured way by creating a list of features for each product or service you offer.

Then, break this down further by documenting the benefits each feature offers. Once you have a detailed list of benefits, you can brainstorm the people whose needs would be fulfilled by those benefits.

While this may still be too broad of a grouping to officially identify as your target audience, it can definitely get you going in the right direction.

Use social listening for deeper insights

Social listening is an excellent way to discover online conversations about your business, industry and/or products or services.

This tactic involves monitoring relevant keywords and hashtags that show what people are saying about your and even your competitors online (whether or not you’re tagged). Of course, the flip side of social listening goes beyond monitoring where you should actually be engaging with those consumers.

In the end, not only can social listening help you generate leads, it can also deepen your social media research that can feed into determining your target audience.

Find out more about social listening, as well as the difference between social listening and crowdsourcing.

Identify specific demographics

Now is the time to get into the nitty gritty of your target audience. Based on the characteristics of your best customers and those who would most benefit from your products or services, determine the following demographics:

  • Age
  • Gender
  • Location
  • Occupation
  • Education level
  • Income level
  • Marital or family status
  • Ethnic background

Evaluate what demographics are the most crucial for the growth of your business.

Go beyond the demographics

Once you’ve solidified the demographics of your target audience, take it one step further. Consider their psychographics, which are the personal characteristics of people.

This includes:

  • Personality
  • Values
  • Attitudes
  • Lifestyles
  • Behavior
  • Interests or hobbies

Of course, psychographics go deeper than the surface demographics you’ve already determined.

Start by thinking through how your product or service fits into your ideal customer’s lifestyle. Ask such questions as:

  • How will your ideal customer use your product or service?
  • When will your ideal customer use it?
  • What features of your product or service are most appealing to your ideal customer?
  • How does your ideal customer consume media? Does he or she read the newspaper, attend particular events or search online?
  • What social media channels does your ideal customer use?

Your questions don’t have to end there, of course, the better you build and understand the persona of your ideal customer (i.e. target audience), the more specific you can target.

Confirm your target audience

Once you feel confident that you have identified your target audience, it doesn’t hurt to evaluate and confirm your decision-making result.

It’s key to consider whether your target is large enough, or has it swung from being too broad to being too niche? Will your target audience actually benefit from your products or services? Do you fully understand what drives your target audience to make purchase decisions?

Of course, simpler considerations include whether your target audience can actually afford your product or service and whether you can actually reach them with your message (or are they not easily accessible)?

In conclusion

It’s entirely possible that you’ve identified more than just one target audience. This is absolutely fine as long as you differentiate your messaging between niches. For example, you wouldn’t address stay-at-home mothers the same as about-to-graduate college students.

Just know that while defining your target audience can be difficult, it’s worth the effort. You can then be that much more successful in your digital marketing efforts, which can lead to more sales.

Check out our Digital Marketing 101 Guide for Beginners to get a better understanding about everything digital marketing can do. Plus, see our 18 low-cost marketing ideas for small businesses.

As you’re defining your target audience, consider leveling up your digital marketing with DailyStory and our 21-day free trial. Features include automating various marketing tasks, dynamic audience segmentation and more. Schedule your free demo with us today.