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Social Media Monitoring: How to Listen to Your Audience

June 18, 2020

social media monitoring

Having your finger on the pulse of customer sentiment is essential, no matter what’s being said about your brand. 

As social media platforms continue to advance, the ways in which people can discuss how pleased or disappointed they are with your products and services grow as well.

While social media managers were once able to simply look out for themselves by being tagged in statuses, it’s widely known that this method is now only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to knowing who’s talking about you online.

The more social media managers can see what people are saying about their brand, the more they’re able to listen, respond, and adapt for the future to increase customer happiness. Letting any mention slip through the cracks should be a social media manager’s worst nightmare.

What is social media monitoring?

Social media monitoring involves the use of a tool to actively observe what is being said across the internet on both traditional publishing and social media platforms. These tools may also provide insight into social media engagement. 

The different ways to measure social metrics can be used interchangeably in conversation, but if a social media manager doesn’t know the difference, it can be easy to confuse others. One example of where confusion may occur is with the term social media monitoring itself, which is often used interchangeably with social listening. However, these two terms serve different purposes. 

  • Social media monitoring is reactive. Brands can engage more efficiently with their audience by monitoring streams of comments, mentions, topics, and other messages. 
  • Social listening is proactive. By dealing with larger sets of data, brands can partake in social listening for sentiment analysis, topic affinity analysis, and to see how competing brands are performing in contrast to themselves. These insights can then be collected and analyzed to identify trends. 

While some tools may offer both capabilities, it’s important for social media managers to understand and acknowledge their differences. 

Benefits of social media monitoring

Your customers are already on social media shouting your name. Whether they’re praising your product, criticizing your services, or just trying to get an answer to a question, failing to take part in social media monitoring could cause you to miss out on crucial information. 

Key benefits of social media monitoring software include:

  • Monitoring accounts on various social platforms
  • Quickly receiving alerts of customer criticism or complaints
  • Tracking brand competition
  • Monitoring social media reputation in real-time
  • Gaining insights on the effectiveness of your social media strategy

Essentially, social media monitoring tools can help social media managers cut through the clutter that a social feed can sometimes be.

Instead of scrolling through endless posts or doing manual searches on keywords that your audience may not even be using, a social media monitoring tool can be customized to give you alerts whenever your brand is mentioned to ensure that fewer posts slip through the cracks. 

“...we don't want to miss a chance to make things right for customers who didn't have a great experience.”

John Donnachie 
Director of ClydeBank Media

Most platforms like Twitter and Instagram provide notifications when your brand is tagged, making it seem as though a social media monitoring tool could be useless to invest in.

But what about the customers who praise your services without tagging your account? Or the customers that try to ask a question but accidentally misspell your brand name?

In 2014, it was found that 30% of tweets that include a company name don’t actually tag the brand itself; imagine what that number could possibly look like today across all social platforms.

Social media monitoring and social listening combined have the capability of providing users with not only the messages that they can immediately respond to, but also allow them to take a bird’s eye view of their audience’s opinions, the trends they follow, and how those trends change over time.

Having this information all in one place can help social media managers take immediate action while also making larger decisions about their social media strategy in the future. 

Overall, social media monitoring is a crucial tool for any business that wants to keep an eye on how satisfied their customers are, track their customers’ feedback, and better manage their brand reputation. 

Top social media monitoring tools

Social media monitoring tools provide users with the capability to partake in social listening, tracking, and gathering relevant content across a wide range of social media platforms. Often used by social media marketers or others in the same department, these tools can help identify trends, track competitors, and better understand how their customers think of them.

When used appropriately, these tools help marketers better understand and appeal to their audiences as well as respond to positive or negative feedback in a timely manner. Choosing to either test a trial or invest in all of the features that a social media monitoring tool provides shows that you’re taking an additional step to put your customers first. 

Like any software, there are a wide variety of social media monitoring tools available to choose from. When choosing a tool, look at all of the features it provides.

Does it have the ability to listen for specific mentions across all platforms? Can it detail customer sentiment? Can it organize information in a way that works for you?

These features, among others, should be considered before investing in a social media monitoring tool to ensure that the one you choose is one that’s most intuitive for you. 

 *Below are the top five leading social media monitoring software solutions from G2’s Spring 2020 Grid® Report. Some reviews may be edited for clarity. 

1. Hootsuite

Hootsuite is a widely used social media management platform designed for organizations to execute social media strategies across multiple social media networks. Social media monitoring features for Hootsuite include social measurement, sentiment scoring, influencer identification, social reporting, and social listening. 

hootsuite screenshot

What users like:

“Hootsuite can be used to publish any type of post well in advance thanks to its automated scheduling function, which publishes the material for us once we have set a specific date for it. It’s important to emphasize that when a publication is scheduled, it can be edited regularly until the moment’s scheduled without having to be canceled so you don’t have to constantly configure your publication date.”

Hootsuite review, Jessica C.

What users dislike:

“There is a deep learning curve when using this tool. You must be constant when you want to learn how to use it.”

Hootsuite review, Jonathan B

Recommendations for others considering the product:

“Take advantage of the tools Hootsuite offers to make it fast and easy for daily social media scheduling, management & monitoring!”

Hootsuite review, User in Electrical/Electronic Manufacturing 

2. Sprout Social 

Sprout Social is an all-in-one social management solution that empowers its customers to do more with their social media strategy. Better connect with audiences, streamline publishing workflows, collaborate in real-time, and turn social data into meaningful insights at scale.

Social media monitoring features for Sprout Social include social measurement, influencer identification, social reporting, and social listening. 

sprout social example

What users like:

“The Smart Inbox in Sprout is my favorite feature. It allows us to see what's happening on all of our platforms at once and is so convenient to react and reply to customer messages.”

Sprout Social review, Rachel P.

What users dislike:

“When scheduling social media posts, it’s important to be able to see any posts that have already been scheduled for a given day. Although you can do this on Sprout Social by hovering over a particular day when scheduling new posts, it could be made more efficient so that it's easier to check what has already been scheduled.”

Sprout Social review, Luke T.

Recommendations for others considering the product:

“If you're a solo team, this product may be out of budget for you. Once you add more than one person monitoring your accounts and 10+ accounts, this is a must-have.” 

Sprout Social review, Korrie B.

3. Zoho Social

Zoho Social is a complete social media management platform for businesses and agencies that helps users schedule posts, monitor mentions, create custom dashboards, and more. Social media monitoring features for Zoho Social include social measurement, sentiment scoring, influencer identification, social reporting, and social listening. 

zoho social screenshot

What users like:

“This is hands down the most user-friendly social service I've tried! I love that it's easy to connect multiple channels, add contributors, and publish a ton of posts on the Professional Plan with no technical glitches like other platforms have given me.”

Zoho Social review, Daniel L. 

What users dislike:

“Posting links don't always display the right thumbnail, but I'm told this is an issue with how my Squarespace site’s backend handles images. Hopefully, this will be fixed in the future.”

Zoho Social review, John K.

Recommendations for others considering the product:

“This is not the place for content generation, but it is a great option if you are looking to hit more social media platforms at an affordable rate! The free account is fantastic, but does not allow for scheduling. If scheduling is important, I would recommend upgrading to the affordable $15 option.”

Zoho Social review, Rachel W.

4. Falcon.io

A platform for social media monitoring, engagement, publishing, analytics, and managing customer data, Falcon.io enables brands to explore the full potential of digital marketing and advertising by managing multiple customer touchpoints on one platform. It allows marketers to deliver more personalized brand experiences based on enriched customer profiles.

Social media monitoring features for Falcon.io include social measurement, sentiment scoring, influencer identification, social reporting, and social listening. 

falcon.io screenshot

What users like:

“Quite robust features, including community management, content publishing, analytics, and advertising. It's a nice hybrid between zero inbox and stream style feeds for engagement, so you can customize it to how you prefer to see activity. They are open with their roadmap and what features are being introduced or upgraded.”

Falcon.io review, Lauren P.

What users dislike:

“The reporting is the only thing that isn't flawless with Falcon. I primarily use Falcon with another agency (trade vs. consumer), and it has been difficult to pull analytics from the platform. That whole section is a little clunky, but if you're a single user pulling regular data, maybe it wouldn't be an issue.”

Falcon.io review, Nicole C.

Recommendations for others considering the product:

“Consider what is most important to you about social management. If you care most about engagement tracking, listening, and analytics, you will be pleasantly surprised by Falcon. If you are looking for a product that can post anything to any platform without question in a seamless and intuitive interface, you'll still end up with an overall good platform, but might be slightly disappointed.”

Falcon.io Review, Nathan O.

5. Mention

Mention enables brands and agencies to leverage media monitoring in order to increase brand awareness. By tracking a brand, competitor, or industry topic, this platform allows customers to compare and analyze online conversations, as well as create content based on important social and web insights.

Social media monitoring features for Mention include social measurement, sentiment scoring, influencer identification, social reporting, and social listening. 

mention screenshot

What users like:

“One thing that I really liked about Mention is that it’s very easy to add keywords and phrases that you don't want to include in an alert. In addition, the software's user interface is clean and easy to read, it makes it easy to quickly scan and see all the latest mentions you’ve set up to track.”

Mention review, Arielle F.

What users dislike:

The only thing that I want to point out is that the learning curve of Mention is very slow. One needs to understand the tool very well while using it. Also, they did not provide much help in the ‘How To’ section.”

Mention review, Aman V.

Recommendations for others considering the product:

“Mention is worth every penny. I find that the information I get from Mention is invaluable to me, my clients, and my colleagues.”

Mention review, Cheryl B.

Listen up

If you consider yourself a social media marketer, it’s crucial to equip yourself with a social media monitoring tool. By tracking the sentiment surrounding your brand as well as the volume at which it’s being talked about online, the more ability you’ll have to interact with and improve the experiences of your audience and customers. 

This tool works in your favor in more ways than one. Not only will you be able to note every positive thing a customer has said about your product, but you’ll also have more potential to catch and resolve negative comments before they’re caught aflame by the larger community. 

Social media monitoring tools are there to have your back; whichever tool you choose will be able to cover the basics of what you’re looking for. In the end, what matters is that the software you invest in is one that will work with you in a smooth manner to keep an eye on everything all at once. 

Showing your audience and customers that you care on social media is only the start of how you can continue to improve the customer experience.

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