Social media listening tool comparison

Updated report shows the why, what and how of selecting social media listening tools and engagement

‘Listen!’ is the first step towards creating a social media strategy. To listen effectively you need to choose the right tool. There’s certainly no shortage of choice. Back in 2009 Smart Insights created a comparison of 36 of the best-known online reputation monitoring tools including free and paid tools. Since then, there has been an explosion of new tools on the market, with top vendors developing features beyond listening, monitoring, analysis, or social media management, making the selection process now even more bewildering. Our free tools guides has a select number of services.

In order to enable companies and individuals to make effective decisions about the selection and use of social media monitoring tools and services, this November’s Social Media Monitoring (SMM) Tools and Services Report 2017 by Ideya Ltd provides overview and comparison of social media technologies to help you make the right choice! It is the most comprehensive report currently available on the market, offering analysis and elaborate profiles of 173 social media technologies.

To save you time, Ideya has conveniently categorized the featured social technologies into 8 classes, based on the type of social tools they offer. They include:

  • Social Media Listening Tools
  • Social Media Monitoring
  • Social Media Analytics
  • Social Media Intelligence
  • Social Media Management
  • Social Media Marketing Tools
  • Social Media Customer Care Tools,
  • Social Suites.


The 92 page-long report extract below, also published on SlideShare has a good level of detail on how to approach the selection process, a listing of all tools and detailed sample profiles of 7 tools (out of 173 profiles available in the full report). Those that are included in the Excerpts are: (1) BoomSonar, BoomSonar SA, (2) Lucidya,  Lucidya, (3) NodeXL, Social Media Research Foundation, (4) Sprinklr, Sprinklr, Inc., (5)  SemanticForce, SemanticForce, Inc, (6) Talkwalker, Talkwalker, and (7) YouScan, YouScan Limited.

What are social media listening and monitoring tools?

Simple social listening platforms provide a basic capability of capturing online and social conversations based on the specific search query, offering key insights through the analysis of those conversations.

More advanced Social Media Monitoring (SMM) platforms, on the other hand, may provide several functions and offer listening, monitoring, analytics and often intelligence and engagement capabilities. Some top vendors are developing features even beyond monitoring, listening and gradually converging with other types of platforms (e.g., content management, social advertising, social media marketing platforms, etc.), or creating social suites that integrate several social point solutions within one integrated product that can address multiple social business use cases.

Furthermore, more advanced SMM tools are employing artificial intelligence (AI) in various ways to improve data discovery, data analysis and engagement function to get ahead of competition. Some forms by which AI is making an entrance into social media marketing and customer care are image recognition, ad targeting, chatbots, smart alerting, tailored recommendations, and others.

As a result of these rapid innovations, making an educated choice about which social technology and services can best address your needs has become a more complex.

How do social listening tools help in marketing campaigns?

SMM tool metrics and measurements are designed to evaluate company activities and inform an overall social media strategy. Companies should develop marketing campaigns based on the insight gained through social media monitoring, focus on the highest potential markets or groups identified through market segmentation and influencer analysis and identify optimal time for engagement.

The metrics may involve statistics about the share, reach, sentiment, impact and speed of conversations about the company. These parameters can be used to assess the company image and perceptions before and after campaign and measure campaign effectiveness and identify trends that lead to new marketing and product tactics. Many tools also offer day parting metrics showing the effectiveness of an outbound message at different times of the day to identify optimum posting time and frequency.

To measure the value of your social media activities, you should also look at the overall results your company is generating and carefully examine how social media was engaged in increasing your bottom line through growing revenue and increasing efficiency looking at the incremental revenue after a particular promotion, number of conversions, lead generation effectiveness, number of leads per dollar spent vs. traditional advertising campaigns, and others.


In the area of Marketing and Communications, Ideya says that social media monitoring tools typically assist organizations in:

  1. Acquiring real-time social marketing insights to inform social media marketing and communication plans
  2. Optimizing design of marketing and advertising campaigns based on customer insights and comprehensive audience analysis and targeting, researching the interests, preferences, demographics, and other aspects of an audience group
  3. Developing social content strategies to promote products and services and engage with current and potential customers across social media channels in real time
  4. Monitoring and applying‘word of mouth’ consumer recommendations as a form of direct advertising by identifying and engaging with key influencers, generating buzz, and establishing and building relationships with key influencers
  5. Making better decisions about campaigns and brand extensions with a clear understanding of the key factors influencing brand’s health
  6. Supporting rapid social marketing engagement, and
  7. Developing performance metrics

I’d add that they’re also useful in getting insight about customer perception of product categories and how your products or services are considered relative to competitors. This can help inform new product development.

As Ideya states in the report,

if used properly, social intelligence offered by SMM tools can create true value for businesses by supporting every area of their business. Benefits can range from understanding consumers’ needs and behaviors, competitive landscape, creating risk management plans, increasing customer experience and satisfaction, to executing smart product development and marketing campaigns.”

Depending on the maturity and complexity of the SMM platforms and its key features, some tools can also support social media marketing professionals in social media publishing, business development, sales and lead generation, SMM, analysis, and engagement, conversation management, and SEO.

Requirements for social listening tools and technologies

So that’s the ‘why’ of social media listening tools, but how do you decide? Issues to consider when selecting social media tools are summarized in the following table:

Social media tool key features and factors impacting selection process

The following graph illustrates how tools differ in terms of product features but also shows that the SMM technologies are continually introducing new product features.

SMM Product Features – Percentage of SMM Products (200) Offering Specific Feature

Social media key product features

Indeed, the number of SMM Tools offering the Campaign Management and Monitoring feature has increased significantly in the past several years. According to Ideya’s 2017 Report, the number of featured tools offering Campaign Management and Monitoring feature has grown from 73% in 2016 to 77% in 2017, while the number of the tools offering publishing and workflow management capabilities grew by 4% and 3% respectively.

Similarly, about 83% SMM tools offer API integration – a very valuable option for organizations with complex social media programs, which is five percent (5%) more than in 2016. The above graph also demonstrates increased focus on segmentation by location.

Do check the report out! For more information, read the Report Excerpts below or download them from Ideya’s Website:

Social Media Monitoring Tools and Services Report Public Excerpts 2017, 8th Edition by lmilicideya on Scribd

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