Ever wonder what people are saying about your brand? Not only is this information interesting, but it’s also incredibly useful and important in developing your 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 Twitter, Facebook, YouTube 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, a social media monitoring tool spreads out across social channels to identify every brand mention it 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 analytics.

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 it leaves 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. In fact, 21%of consumers are more likely to purchase something from a brand that is accessible via social media, according to Sprout Social.

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 Twitter. That may mean that you need to increase your Twitter engagements 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 information about the general sentiment towards 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.

Sprout Social found that 59% of consumers reached out to a brand on social media as a result of a great experience, while 40% of consumers will reach out due to a bad experience and 47% will contact a company through a social channel seeking an answer for a question.

So now that we’ve established how useful and important social media monitoring is, let’s talk about how to do it affordably. Luckily, there are a number of free social listening tools on the market that your brand can start using today.

14 Free Social Listening Tools To Try

1. Brandwatch

Brandwatch is a social listening tool that works across multiple channels, plus it is a direct partner of Twitter. This tool’s bread and butter is consumer intelligence and trendspotting. When you use Brandwatch, the tool uses an algorithm to find and analyze brand mentions and discover common trends across social networks.

2. 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 Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and more.

3. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a content analysis tool with an impressive amount of social listening capabilities. This tool allows you to search the internet for content that includes mentions 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.

4. Followerwonk

Followerwonk is a social listening tool specifically designed for Twitter. It allows your company to search through Twitter bios to find and connect with relevant users, and it also allows you to compare Twitter accounts with one another. You can also analyze your followers, gaining valuable information on their demographics, locations and other valuable customer data. Furthermore, Followerwonk provides insights on possible relationships between your activity on Twitter and the gain or loss of followers.

5. 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.

6. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a social media management platform with a subsection for social listening called Hootsuite Insights. This tool provides a convenient platform when you can view and respond to social media posts that mention your brand. Surfing Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, 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.

7. Lithium

Lithium recently acquired Klout, a social media management tool that allows you to more easily interact with your followers. Through this tool, you can respond to direct outreach from your followers, including direct messages, Tweets, Facebook posts and more. As your brand awareness increases, it becomes more overwhelming to respond to all the outreach you get. Lithium makes this process much easier by providing a simple and convenient platform.

8. Mentionmapp

Mentionmapp is another social monitoring tool that connects to your Twitter account. It shows metrics like who mentions your brand the most, as well as who most often retweets or replies to your tweets. Since the tool is interactive, you can do quite a bit of investigation into these metrics. For example, you can look at each tweet to see how they are related to one another.

9. Socialmention

When you use Socialmention, 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.

10. SumAll

SumAll functions as the name implies. It gathers information from all of your social media accounts — Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, YouTube and more — and presents it in one easy-to-read summary. Using this tool, you don’t need to check the insights of each social media channel individually. Information about engagements is all right there in front of you.

11. TweetDeck

Tweetdeck is a tool provided by Twitter itself, and it helps you view and assess Twitter engagements in real time. You do this by monitoring live feeds across Twitter, so if someone Tweets something, adds to their story or starts a live video, you’ll know as soon as it happens.

12. TweetPsych

TweetPsych is a social listening tool that helps you find out about your brand’s reputation. If you give this tool your brand’s Twitter handle, it will compile a series of Tweets that unveils the general sentiment toward your brand among Twitter users.

13. TweetReach

TweetReach helps you navigate the wonderful world of hashtags. If someone is to discuss your brand on Twitter, there are a number of terms they might use for the associated hashtag. TweetReach makes it easy to search through Twitter for mentions of various hashtags.

14. Twitonomy

If you want to investigate a specific Twitter user or hashtag, Twitonomy is a useful social listening tool for that. Just type the hashtag or user handle into the tool, and it will find and extract metrics like mentions, followers, retweets, replies and more for that particular search criteria. This is useful for if you need information on one influencer or a trend that’s circulating around social media.

How Brafton Can Help

Need more help with social listening? Our social media team at Brafton can help you find the best way to improve your marketing tactics to increase your brand awareness and customer engagement. To learn more about our social media strategy, contact us today.

Rachael is a content writer located in Chicago. When she’s not typing away, you can find her running the pool table at her local dive, crocheting her own clothes or reading under a blanket and working her way through the 20 different types of loose leaf tea she bought in bulk on an impulse.