Audience listening tools allow you to monitor your social media accounts, so you'll know when conversations are happening that involve your brand, your products, and services, or even your competitors. This makes it easy for people to manage multiple profiles and maintain a presence on multiple social media sites, all without missing a beat.
In other words, if you're not using audience listening tools to track what's happening in your backyard, then there's the possibility you're going to miss out on major opportunities to participate in discussions, resolve complaints, stay ahead of your competitors, and keep apprised of the topics your audience cares about.
The Story: Hootsuite was born back in 2008 from sheer need when founder Ryan Holmes realized he needed a tool to help him manage the multiple social accounts that he ran for his digital products company. The dashboard platform supports 35 social networking sites, including the most popular ones, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, and more.
Popularity: More than 15 million users across the world run the Hootsuite dashboard to track and manage their social media accounts.
Best Features: You can manage multiple social accounts at once with a single dashboard, and this makes it easy to listen to all your networks at once.
This particular lool lets you monitor mentions, track keyword usage, and follow influencer accounts, so this lets you stay tuned in to conversations happening in your domain so you can participate in them when necessary. They also provide analytics reports to help you measure progress, allow for post scheduling and provide training through Hootsuite University.
Options: The basic version is of Hootsuite is free, but there are also paid versions you can upgrade to that are better suited for the needs of businesses
The Story: Followerwonk is a Twitter-specific audience listening tool that allows you to delve deep into the world of Twitter analytics, giving you in-depth insights into your audience, followers, and influencers.
Best Features: Because this tool is specific to Twitter, it provides much more information about users than many other tools. For instance, by using Followerwonk, you can find out information about your followers such as where they live, when they like to tweet, what behaviors characterize them, and other statistics and demographics.
Beyond that, you can also compare followers to each other, and use keywords to search for followers who might make good audience members. The tool is also great for finding and connecting with influencers.
Options: Along with the freemium version (which allows for a single profile), there are also two paid versions: one that’s $29 per month that allows three profiles, and one that’s $79 and allows 20 profiles.
The Story: Klout has been around since 2008, and they specialize in helping brands calculate scores for social media users based on influence. The great thing about the platform is that you can also use it to calculate your own score, and get a better idea of what your audiences think of you in terms of authority and clout.
The scores range from 1 to 100, and the closer you are to 100, the more influence you have. The site can rank users on all the major networks, including Instagram, Foursquare, Facebook, Google+, and more.
Best Features: This platform has a ton of great offerings, including that it puts you in touch with content that your audience might be interested in but hasn’t yet seen. It also works as a content creation platform, monitors conversations, allows you to engage in conversations, and lets you track social signals such as likes and retweets, all while keeping you apprised of your own Klout score.
Another great feature is that it helps you reach out to influencers in your field, and will even let you give away perks to these users.
The Story: TweetDeck is another Twitter-only listening tool, which allows you to monitor multiple accounts and create customized interfaces. Like many similar tools, TweetDeck has been available since 2008, two years after the launch of the social network, and it has since been acquired by Twitter and linked directly to the platform’s interface.
Best Features: One of the things people like most about TweetDeck is that you can create customized columns to lay out the information you want to monitor, whether it relates to Twitter groups, individual users, customers, or competitors. With this tool, you can track trending hashtags, interactions, mentions, messages, and even specific user profiles.
Furthermore, you can also use the tool to schedule tweets, and when you combine the scheduling capabilities with the monitoring ones, it becomes an indispensable tool when you're in the middle of a trending topic or tweetstorm.
The Story: Social Mention is an easy to use search tool that gives insights about any search term you input into the tool. The platform is very simple, but in a very short time, it can give you a really good idea of what's being said about your brand, your competitors, your products, or anything else you search for. For example, if you work for a national park and want to see what the public is saying, you can search the term grizzly bear or something similar to see who has said what and where in the last few hours, days, weeks, or month.
Best Features: Despite how simple the platform is, Social Mention packs a punch when it comes to valuable and usable information. For instance, when you search a term, the platform won’t just return the results of what has been said, but it will also give you a rating for the strength, passion, sentiment, and reach of that term. You can also narrow your search to focus only on specific types of content, such as video, images, blogs, and microblogs. Furthermore, when you search a given term, the platform will also return results about the top keywords, hashtags, and users related to that subject. Finally, you can use the tool to set up email alerts or an RSS feed about chosen terms.
The Story: Google Alerts was launched all the way back in 2003, making it one of the original audience listening tools on the market. The difference between this tool and other audience listening tools is that Google Alerts is designed to monitor web content—and not specifically social media content—for search terms relating to alerts the user sets up. For instance, if you ran a pet store and wanted to keep apprised of everything that was said online about polydactyl cats, then you could set up an alert using that term, and you'd get regular updates about content from around the web that mentioned the term.
Best Features: The major appeal of Google Alerts is its breadth of scope: it monitors all web content to search for your chosen search terms, and that includes everything from web pages to blogs, news articles to scientific research, and much more. Another benefit is that you can set up alerts for any term you like, meaning you can monitor products, services, brand mentions, competitors, keywords, or anything else you want to track. Moreover, you can also set the frequency for how often you'll receive email alerts, allowing you to keep close tabs on what's being said about you.
The Story: BoardReader is similar to Social Mention in that you can input a search term to see what's being said about it, but the difference is that BoardReader is specifically designed to monitor discussion panels, comment sections, and message boards.
Best Features: The main benefit of BoardReader is that it easily allows you to track and monitor the comments people are making about your brand or products. Without a tool like this, it would take a team of people years to troll through and track everything that was being said about you, and they'd never be able to keep up with the conversations. BoardReader is a simpler platform than Social Mention, but you can still refine your search based on posts or threads, can see mentions going back as far as a year, and can even search precise domains for your chosen term.
Audience listening tools will only continue to become more popular, more necessary, and more sophisticated as more brands realize the importance of social media and audience engagement.
There are already plenty of free tools out there you can use to monitor what people are saying about you or your competitors, and these seven should get you on the right track for keeping apprised about keywords and phrases related to your brand, allowing you to stay engaged and participate in conversations that matter.