Ever wonder what people are saying about your brand? Social media is the place to go for expressing unfiltered thoughts and feelings — and this isn’t restricted to businesses. Not only is this information interesting, but it’s also incredibly useful and important in developing a responsive marketing strategy.
But how can you gather social data outside of direct customer interaction? Social media monitoring is the answer, and luckily, there are plenty of free social listening tools out there you can use.
What Is Social Media Monitoring?
Social media monitoring, or social media listening, is the identification and extraction of online conversations that contain mentions of your brand. For example, if someone posts something about your company on YouTube, Instagram, TikTok, X (formerly known as Twitter) or another social platform, you can learn a lot about how your brand is perceived through that social media post as well as the comments or replies.
But how can you possibly monitor all of the online conversations out there? If you wanted to comb through all of the online conversations on every social channel available, you would need a team of hundreds of people consistently scrolling through social media accounts, and you still wouldn’t even scratch the surface. Luckily, there’s such a thing as a social media listening tool — or a social media monitoring tool — that does that work for you.
What’s a Social Listening Tool?
If you’re familiar with how search engines work, you already have a basic idea of how a social media monitoring tool works. Search engines send crawlers to scan through the internet and find content that matches search queries. Similarly, social media monitoring tools spread out across social channels to identify every brand mention that they can. The data is then collected and stored so that a social media marketing team can respond to questions, concerns and feedback as well as conduct social media analysis.
Why Is Social Listening Important?
Social media monitoring and social listening are essential for any brand. Customer reviews and data will reveal important information about your target audience, but they leave out an important part of the story.
Social media listening is important because it:
Improves Customer Service
Often, if a customer is unhappy with a product or service or if they have a question, they may try to reach the brand on social media instead of emailing them or going straight to their website. When this happens, it’s essential that your brand notices and responds. Ignoring this type of outreach — whether accidental or on purpose — is sure to make a potential customer feel neglected. But responding will make them feel heard.
Assesses Brand Awareness
You can’t improve your brand awareness without first gaining an understanding of how it’s already performing. Social listening helps with brand monitoring because it gives your company data on where the most conversations about your brand are taking place, and where there needs to be more awareness. Let’s say consumers are raving about your company all over Instagram, but they’re quiet on X (don’t worry, we’re still getting used to the rebranding too). That may mean that you need to increase your engagements on X to reach a larger audience.
Keeps Tabs on Brand Reputation
Not only will social media monitoring help you find out where and how much consumers are talking about your brand, but it will also give you valuable insight into the general sentiment toward your company. People turn to online conversation for many reasons — whether they are happy, angry, confused or curious about your company, they may convey their feelings through a social media channel.
According to CrispThinking’s study, 73% of consumers read user comments on social media ads to understand more about a brand’s reputation, and 1 in 3 customers have previously encountered negative commentary on a brand’s social media pages.
So now that we’ve gone through how useful and important social media monitoring is, let’s talk about how to do it affordably. Luckily, there are a number of social listening tools on the market you can try and test to identify the solution that best suits your brand.
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20 Free Social Listening Tools To Try
1. Google Alerts
If you aren’t already using Google Alerts, you should be. They couldn’t be easier to set up, and they inform you of when your brand is mentioned in news story titles. If someone posts a blog or article about your company on a social media channel, magazine or other online platform, you’ll get an email notification. This will help you keep tabs on the bigger topics of discussion related to your brand.
TweetDeck is a tool provided by X, and it helps you view and assess X engagements in real-time. You do this by monitoring live feeds across X, so if someone tweets, adds to their story or starts a live video, you’ll know as soon as it happens.
Beyond tracking hashtags and keywords, this tool also keeps you in the loop with timely email alerts for brand mentions and keyword notifications, as well as opportunities for identifying leads and measuring reach. Geo-targeted trending topics serve as a valuable resource for elevating your content to match the interests of specific locations. Plus, gain a competitive edge by comparing your competitors’ followers and zeroing in on lucrative niches through in-depth analysis of X lists, accounts or conversations.
Free to Use — but paid plans are also available.
4. Google Analytics
You’ve probably heard of Google Analytics before, but it’s advanced (and of course, totally free) capabilities are always worth a mention. This tool provides detailed insights into user behavior, peeling back the layers beyond clicks and page views to reveal what genuinely captures user interest. With real-time metrics, you’re equipped to make data-driven decisions on the fly, while long-term trend analysis supports your overarching digital strategies.
5. Google Trends
This tool keeps an eye on the pulse of global search behavior, revealing not only what people are searching for but also the intent behind their queries. Dynamic visualizations give you a quick read on trending topics, while deep-dive data mining allows you to uncover nuanced patterns that could inform your content creation, product development or overall marketing strategies.
Equipped with a multifaceted analytics dashboard, Buffer zeroes in on engagement metrics across Instagram, Facebook, X and LinkedIn. You get to dive deep into meaningful conversations, hashtag effectiveness and the organic versus paid reach of your boosted posts. With daily updated reports and actionable insights, Buffer empowers you to listen, engage and make strategic adjustments in real time.
Get a Quick Snapshot with Seven-Day Free Trials
Next up, we’ve got tools that let you try before you buy with seven-day free trials. These aren’t forever-free, but a week is plenty of time to test the waters. It’s a chance to see how these tools stack up and if they’re worth your money in the long run. So why not take them for a spin and find out if they fit your brand’s needs?
7. Brand Mentions
Brand Mentions is exactly what its name implies, and more. This free social listening tool searches the internet for your brand name in online conversations. Once the mentions are located, they are collected and organized into categories that coincide with trends. Therefore, the result you get when you use Brand Mentions is a convenient, streamlined report on all of the conversations in which your brand appeared across X, Facebook, YouTube and more.
8. Konnect Insights
With Konnect Insights, you’re not limited to social media. This tool means you don’t miss out on any conversation and listen to your customers’ voices across the web. You can analyze customer data and gain real-time market intelligence, so you can fine-tune your marketing strategies and make informed business decisions. Konnect Insights also allows you to keep an eye on competitors and understand what’s successfully engaging their customers, so you can gain a competitive edge.
Emplifi is a customer engagement platform that lets you optimize the customer experience with stronger social media marketing solutions. From a single intuitive interface, It allows your business to unify its teams so they research, schedule and publish content across all popular social network platforms. With real-time insights, you’ll be able to make quicker, data-led decisions.
Dive Deeper With Extended Free Trials
Alright, let’s get into the next batch of tools that give you more time to play around — think two weeks to a whole month of free trials.
Facelift is a social listening tool that works across all social media networks. This tool allows you to create authentic content that achieves a wider reach and boosts conversion rates. It provides data-driven insights to better engage your customers and understand your social impact.
Sendible is one of the leading social media management platforms for companies aiming to effectively manage their social media. Sendible’s automation features simplify the process of driving interactions and building a loyal following on social media. With data-rich social media reports, you’ll be able to offer accessible insights into your social campaign’s progress.
Mentionlytics is a brand monitoring tool that enables your company to manage its brand reputation, find mentions of your company with social listening features and monitor competitors. This all-in-one social media analytics platform provides sentiment analysis reports and helps you to find influencers in your industry to create meaningful relationships and generate new leads.
When you use Mention, you type a term into the search bar — likely your brand name or a term very closely related to your company — and the tool scours the internet and fetches all mentions of that term it can find. These might be in the form of social media posts, blogs, news articles, images or video content. It gathers this information and presents it in one convenient platform.
Delve beyond basic tracking with a tool powered by cutting-edge artificial intelligence. Brand24 sifts through an extensive range of online conversations across news platforms, blogs, social media and more. It taps into 25 million sources in real-time, offering you a comprehensive view of your brand’s online presence. Advanced sentiment analysis segments mentions into positive, negative, or neutral categories, providing a detailed emotional landscape surrounding your brand. Creating reports is simplified, with AI-generated word clouds and key metrics that offer actionable insights. What’s more, language barriers are non-existent, thanks to support for 108 languages.
15. Zoho Social
This robust tool helps you manage conversations by focusing on core keywords, brand hashtags and product reviews. Get real-time insights through customized dashboards that feature columns for @mentions and keyword searches, in-depth hashtag tracking and more. Filters let you hone in on specific activities across several social media sites while CRM integration helps you label and track valuable leads.
Welov.io gives you the power to maximize your impact across various social networks. This platform provides you with the information you need to succeed, from our detailed metrics and KPIs to performance analysis and content intelligence. Welov.io also strives to simplify its data as much as possible to offer clear, actionable solutions for betting decision making for your marketing team.
Agorapulse is a social media marketing and CRM suite that supports agencies, business owners and marketers in the management of their social network pages, such as Facebook, X and Instagram. This platform offers publishing, reporting, monitoring and team collaboration tools, as well as an established inbox to help you stay organized, save time and easily manage your social media accounts.
BuzzSumo is a social media content analysis tool with an impressive amount of social listening capabilities. This tool allows you to search the internet for any mention of your brand. Once the examples are found, BuzzSumo will compile engagement metrics for each social media post — like views, likes, clicks, shares and more. This way, you can find out not only which channels contain the most conversations about your brand, but also where the lengthiest and most interesting conversations are taking place.
19. Sprout Social
Sprout Social is an intuitive platform that provides smarter, faster and scalable social media solutions for businesses. From Brafton’s first-hand experience with this tool, we can safely say that it effectively lets you better equip your teams, enabling them to enhance real-time collaboration, boost audience engagement, streamline publishing workflows and form well-informed, strategic business decisions with extensive social insights.
Hootsuite is a social media platform management tool with a subsection for social listening called Hootsuite Insights. This tool provides a space where you can view and respond to social media posts that mention your brand. Surfing Facebook, YouTube, X, Instagram and every other social media channel for brand mentions would take far too much time and effort. Hootsuite, luckily, compiles all the posts and lets you engage with them in one easy-to-use tool.
Harness the Potential of Permanently Free Solutions
Social listening tools could just be the necessary tool you need to take your marketing tactics to the next level. We recommend trialing these free resources to determine which one offers the most intuitive platform for your business. Once you’ve determined the right solution, it might be worth taking the plunge to increase your brand awareness and watch your customer engagement soar.
Editor’s Note: Updated September 2023.