30 Social Listening Platforms to Help You Understand Your Customer Needs
Social listening tools make it easy to check brand mentions, competitors, industry keywords, and more. This information is both valuable and useful to any business, but it’s also easy to spend hours just looking through massive amounts of data and never do anything with it.
The difference between social monitoring and social listening is action.
Social listening isn’t about how many people use your hashtags. It’s about how people feel about your business and what you do with that insight.
In this article, we’ll cover how to effectively use social listening tools and how to find the tool that is best for your needs.
Social listening is active listening
Before you choose the perfect social listening tool, you’ll need to practice active listening. This is a form of listening that’s mostly used in counseling and conflict resolution.
To actively listen you need to not only hear what people are saying, but to understand and remember what they’ve shared. You also must respond in a conscientious, timely, and effective way.
Social listening is like active listening, so effective social listening tools not only collect relevant information, they also provide effective ways to distribute and respond to the information you’re collecting.
Start with free social listening tools
Another consideration for social listening is how it affects your budget.
Depending on the scale of your business, it’s important to find a social listening tool that matches the investment your team can make on the insights it provides.
If you aren’t sure where to start, these tools can help you get a better understanding of where your customers are most active, and where your social listening efforts can have the biggest impact.
Note: Some tools offer limited access to platforms in the free version.
Be where your customers are
Another consideration for the right social listening tool is that it should listen to the places where your customers spend the most time. For example, there are a ton of social listening tools just for Twitter, including TweetDeck, TweetReach, Twazzup, and Twitonomy.
As interesting as those insights are, if your niche is more active on Facebook than Twitter it makes more sense to focus your social listening and engagement efforts on Facebook instead.
Start with your most popular channels
Do you sell from a brick-and-mortar store? Social listening tools for your online advertising like Adview for FB and Instagram Ads could be right for you.
Are you a dedicated affiliate? Do you sell from an online store? These social listening tools for reviews and online forums might be a smart place to start.
Are you active on social media? These social listening tools cover all the most popular social media platforms. Be sure to research which platforms they cover, not all will track platforms like YouTube or Pinterest.
Hashtags are also helpful to track, these are a couple of great options:
Do your best conversions come from your blog? These tools cover blog mentions, press mentions, and more.
Focus your efforts on whatever channel is most effective for you in terms of conversions first.
Then develop a process for how you track, analyze, and respond to the social listening data that you collect on that channel. As you and your team get used to the process, add other channels for social listening that make sense for your business.
Track the right information
Now that you’ve chosen the first channel you want to track and what tool might help you track that channel, it’s time to think about what you want to listen for.
Again, social listening tools make it simple to track everything. But if you don’t focus your listening you’ll have more data than time to act on it.
There are four main questions most businesses ask:
- How do customers feel about your brand?
- How do customers feel about your competitors?
- What problems can you help your customers solve?
- Who can help you connect with your customers?
How do customers feel about your brand?
You created a strong logo and brand guide, but you may not understand how your customers feel about your business. Social listening lets you eavesdrop on customer sentiment about your brand persona and can give you details on what you may want to change. This process can also help your team prepare for crises and intense moments of change.
What to track for your brand:
- Your brand name and/or business name
- Your products, be sure to include common misspellings
- Brand messaging
- Names of visible stakeholders for your business
- Brand hashtags
How do customers feel about your competitors?
Social listening tools can help you narrow your focus on where a competitor is winning and how you can improve on or counter their efforts. These listening queries can also give your business a better sense of customer expectations in your industry and how you can respond to those expectations.
What to track for competitors:
- Competitor brand names
- Competing product names
- Competitor brand messaging
- Competitor stakeholders
- Brand hashtags
What problems can you help your customers solve?
You can use social listening tools to track industry and niche-specific topics. This process can help you identify pain points and create better buyer personas. Social listening tools can also make it easier to detect new trends early.
If you’re new to keyword research, this is a good online course. Mastering keyword research can make it easier to notice new trends and long-tail keywords in your niche.
What to track for your industry:
- Popular industry and niche keywords
- Industry hashtags
- Demographic keywords
- Target locations
- Industry trends
- Frequently asked questions
Best social listening tools for keyword tracking:
- Hootsuite Insights
- Reddit Keyword Monitor
Who can help you connect with your customers?
The most important thing to do on social media today is to engage. It’s not enough to post consistently and create a beautiful feed. Customers want to feel like they’re part of an active community and social listening tools can help you identify influencers and supporters who can advocate for your business online.
What to track for influencers, in addition to industry keywords:
- Names of influencers
- Political and social issues
- Industry events
Best social listening tools for influencers:
Make social listening a habit
Social listening is a constant process. It’s important to update and optimize your social listening tools on a regular basis to get the insights you need.
Connect with your team
If you’re part of a business team there will be moments you’ll need help and outside expertise to get the right solution for your customer. One wrong answer or a long delay in response can quickly turn a small problem into a big one so tools that can help streamline this process are important.
Check out these social listening tools that can make it easy to share relevant information with other stakeholders from your customer service, marketing, and product development teams:
Make time to apply social listening insights
Schedule time on your calendar each week to act on social listening insights.
If your product feature with the most mentions is also the product feature that gets the most complaints, this can signal an easy way to improve your business. If a product that gets rave reviews doesn’t get a lot of buzz, this may be a good place to dedicate your ad spend.
Taking action might mean commenting on relevant posts, responding when your brand is mentioned, or planning new initiatives or products around customer conversations.
You may also want to choose a tool that sends email alerts and to organize your responses around these emails.
These social listening tools include email alert options:
No matter how you choose to approach it, social listening can make a huge difference in how your business responds to the needs of your customers. We can’t wait to see how you use these social listening tools to grow your business!