The 20 Best Social Listening Tools for 2021 — Free and Paid

According to the latest study by Statistica, more than 90% of US companies and businesses having 100 employees or more, are using social media for marketing their business.

If you are in one of these 90% businesses (and even if you are not), you would have lately realized the importance of social listening and why you need social listening tools. You would probably be searching for a tool that can help you figure out what is being said about your brand, your industry, and your competitors.

And, most likely, you would have been left confused by the numerous options, each claiming to be the best and the most accurate one.

This blog aims to provide you with a thorough analysis of the 20 best social media listening tools and their crucial features, so you can decide which one best suits your needs.

Let’s roll.

1- Notifier

First thing, this blog isn’t biased. We have spent weeks researching, evaluating, and comparing all the available options to create this list of best social listening tools.

So, if we have chosen our own tool, Notifier, to be a part of this list, trust us; it deserves to be mentioned here. Although being fairly new and inexpensive than many other social listening tools listed below, Notifier has quickly emerged as one of the top 10 options, competing with tools such as HubSpot and Sprout Social who have been in this industry for almost a decade now.

We take pride in introducing our tool as one of the fastest online brand monitoring apps. You don’t need to wait for our email at the end of the day compiling, all the mentions of your brands and relevant keywords.

Notifier can alert you within seconds, so you can respond quicker than your competitors (or your haters), and avert a major social media crisis. We call this active social listening!

When someone complains about you and you respond within seconds, it portrays you as a truly professional business that cares about its buyers’. It also helps you emerge as an industry leader. Instant communication on relevant leads can help you market your product directly and generate more sales, instead of simply relying on passive marketing.

Other than being fast, Notifier provides accurate results, so you don’t miss any important mention of your brand or keywords. It can also help you track your competitors’ social media strategies so you can make necessary improvements.

Another aspect that makes it count among the best social media listening tools is that it is highly effective for Reddit, a social media site that is yet to be fully explored by most businesses and even by most other social media monitoring tools!

We had originally created Notifier for Reddit because that’s what most other social media tracking tools were unable to do accurately. Now, Notifier works equally well for Hacker News and Lobster.rs, Any RSS Feed and even Twitter now! We are actively adding support for many more platforms!

No wonder why it is counted among budget-friendly and simple social tools.

If you want to see real live results you can check them out our Searcher for pizza night or microsoft!

If you haven’t tried it yet, why not opt for our 7-day free trial?

Stop wasting valuable time on social media. Let us Notify you of the opportunities you care about!

2- Brandwatch

Before we begin briefing you more about Brandwatch’s social listening features, please note that it is an ‘enterprise-level’ tool. They haven’t displayed their pricing on their website but their cheapest plan starts at $800/month. Plus, they have too many plans that can confuse you. And, you can pay them more to get a customized plan created specifically for your business!

Brandwatch is one of the best social listening tools for corporate communications with most advanced features that allow you to disintegrate the collected data to gain useful insights such as the demographic location of your audience, their gender, their interest, occupation, age group, etc.

It can help you find out the trending topics relevant to your niche. The dashboard can be exported to create presentations or kept for future references. It can monitor over 85 million websites and provide you real-time data.

What we love the most about Brandwatch is its image analysis feature. Not just text, it can pick up any image that contains your logo. Now, this is something that makes it worthy of its high price and definitely makes it counted among the best Instagram social listening tools. A lot of people these days voice out their opinion in forms of memes and images. So, image analysis can make a lot of difference in tracking your brand’s mentions.

While is constantly evolving, Brandwatch is yet to fix its issue of showing repetitive comments. There is no option of filtering out repetitive comments that users often leave on various social handles. This makes it difficult to scan through so many mentions and dig out the ones that matter the most.

Brandwatch has more than 2000 elite brands as its customers who use it for studying the perception, awareness, and general interest of their target audience.

Excited to try it out?

Well, don’t expect a free trial!

3- Brand24

Originally designed as a social media tracking tool, Brand24 has been updated numerous times to help you with social listening too.

Being inexpensive, it is one of the best social listening tools meant for small and medium businesses. But, despite being priced affordably, it has an AI-driven sentiment analysis feature that helps you protect your brand’s reputation and provide better services and experiences to your buyers. The sentiment analysis data is presented in the form of interactive pie charts, making it easier to decide if and when you need to act.

Another feature of this tool that we love is its comparison tool. You can create two or more side-by-side projects, each meant for a specific campaign of yours and then you can compare them and see which one helped you the most. Another trick you can try is to create separate projects for you and your competitor and compare them to gain some insight on how your competitor is doing on social media and how you can improve yours. Not many budget-friendly monitoring tools let you do that.

Brand24, being a low-cost social media monitoring tool, is not capable of providing you game-changing breakdowns and metrics like BrandWatch but it still does a pretty good job and we definitely rate it as one of the best listening tools for social media for businesses that have modest social media scope.

One thing you need to note is that Brand24 doesn’t offer social media publishing and management services, nor does it let you do too many API integrations. You will have to manage your social accounts separately using any software of your choice. Thankfully, it lets you integrate Slack.

Our major dislike is that unlike our Notifier app that sends instant updates, Brand24 updates itself every 12 hours. If you need hourly updates, you will have to buy their premium plan. Even then, you won’t get real-time updates.

4- Mention

Mention too is one of the best social media listening tools for small and medium scale businesses.

Other than simply tracking your relevant keywords, it can help you restrict your search to certain geographical locations and certain websites of your interest. It can also help track mentions with wrong spellings!

It also has a pulse notification feature that alerts you when there is a sudden increase or decrease in the usage of your relevant keywords. Although this isn’t as good as sentiment tracking, it can still help in damage control, when you instantly get notified about sudden happenings.

Don’t worry; Mention has sentiment analysis feature too.

It has a specific influential dashboard that lets you track the people i.e. the influencers who are generating maximum conversations around the keywords relevant for you. This can help you partner with the right people, who can help you improve your brand’s reputation online.

Its competitive analysis feature helps you compare your social media strategy with your competitors so you can create more effective plans and gain more ROI. Unlike Brand24, it is configured to let you manage your social accounts from its interface instead of toggling between Mention and other social media. The ability to publish content in Mention helps save your team’s time and efforts, along with minimizing the chances of errors.

Many users have reported that Mention doesn’t filter out your own social media posts i.e. it picks up your own social media posts for mentions, leaving you confused about the actual number of mentions you have received. Some buyers have also stated that their customer support team is not quite prompt and helpful. Thankfully, it comes with a free trial period, so you can test it to see if it suits your needs and if you are OK with its flaws.

4- Awario

Being relatively new, Awario offers you benefits that you can’t expect from any other affordable online brand monitoring tool whether it is listed here or not. The creators of Awario have very well realized that they have tough competition, which is why they are offering ‘enterprise-level’ features at a much less price. Even the basic plan includes sentiment analysis, geographical data segregation, and multiple language choices.

Guess what; it offers unlimited historical data on all its plans! These are some reasons why Awario has quickly emerged as one of the best listening tools for social media for small and medium-scale businesses.

Other than tracking your social mentions, competitors, and industry-related discussions, it can help you identify plagiarized copies of your contentIt can also help you track down linkless brand mentions, so you can use them to divert more traffic to your website.

Currently, it is offering a free social selling tool with all its plans. This tool is designed to help you find people who are asking for product/services recommendations similar to yours or your competitors or are complaining about your competitors. Identifying these leads quickly can make a lot of difference in the ROI you get from your social media strategy.

Many buyers have stated that Awario has very limited filters, so you will have to scan through many irrelevant mentions to dig out the ones that you want. Further, it uses Boolean search technology, so setting up alerts may sound confusing when you start using it. But, soon, you will get used to it.

Want to try before you buy? Use their 7-day free trial offer.

5- HubSpot

It provides an extensive range of social media services which includes social media sales, marketing, content management, and CRM, which is why it is counted among the best social listening tools for corporate communications.

Some of the things that HubSpot can help you with are:

  • CRM tool- It is a free tool that helps you track leads and prospects.
  • Marketing tool- helps you increase traffic to your website. You can use it to create effective social media strategies and a high-conversion oriented online marketing program
  • Sales tool- helps you gain insights about your industry, competition, and prospects, so you can stay ahead
  • Service tool: It is a customer-support tool
  • CMS tool- Helps you automate a lot of mundane tasks such as social media posting and commenting, blogging, landing page creation and updation, etc.

You don’t have to buy all those tools. Choose the one that best suits your needs. Plus, it offers a free trial period, making it easier for you to select the correct one.

Hubspot offers so much that a novice user may feel confused and lost. We don’t recommend it for small businesses because it could be overwhelming for them. Even medium-scale businesses may not be able to fully utilize all the features of HubSpot, but you may still try.

However, if you are a large business with a huge social media presence and a well-trained team to handle your online presence, it can be of great help. You can automate your social strategy by scheduling your posts for weeks. You can handle all your social media activities through HubSpot; eliminating the need of logging into multiple websites and manually replying to relevant comments and discussions. This social media tracking tool will serve as a central platform for all your social activities.

Plus, if you have been wondering what are the best social listening tools for ad agencies, this is the one that we highly recommend. You can track your clients’ or prospects’ industry trends and come up with a highly effective marketing plan for them.

6- Sprout Social

Offering a comprehensive range of solutions for social listening and analytics, Sprout Social is one of the best social media listening tools for SMBs.

It is especially known as a Twitter hashtag tracker, letting you discover what’s happening on topics relevant to your business. You can create a Twitter search via its dashboard and handle your Twitter and other social accounts directly from its dashboard. We would say that it is one of the best social listening tools for Twitter.

If you want to monitor other social media platforms, you will have to pay extra, which many buyers found annoying.

We love its query builder that helps you create complex queries and use Boolean phrases, so you get filtered results, which can save your time and effort. Whether you want to track your mentions or your competitor’s mentions, you have to create your query and the relevant results will show under it.

Just like other best tools for social media listening listed here, this one too offers social media management solutions. You can manage all your social accounts from its dashboard. It can also help you find a relevant image to go with your posts.

Some buyers have stated that Instagram scheduling and posting require improvement. There is no grid preview, so if you are uploading multiple images, you wouldn’t know how they will appear. Plus, there is no status bar that lets you know if your posts have been uploaded. Sprout Social also gives occasional glitches, but they aren’t quite serious.

Don’t fall in for its basic plan; it sounds affordable but it doesn’t cover numerous aspects of social listening. Thoroughly study all its plans or maybe ask for a free consultation.

The company is offering a 30-day free trial, so you can test it out and decide if it suits your needs. The best thing about this trial period is that you don’t need to apply for it using your credit card.

7- Falcon.io

Just like other social media monitoring tools listed here, Falcon.io too offers a comprehensive range of services that enable you to manage all your social media needs from its centralized platform.

The social media publishing part has some glitches that could be annoying at times. For example; it doesn’t allow you to share multiple images and videos. The instagram picture uploads fail a lot and require you to resize them. Pinterest linking is missing. Nevertheless, it still does a pretty good job, which is why we have rated it as one of the best listening tools for social media.

In terms of social listening, it does a pretty good job tracking your brand’s mentions and the use of the keywords relevant to you. It can also help you identify the trending topics relevant to your business. The data is broken down by demographics, so you can figure out the most relevant mentions.

It helps analyze the sentiments of discussions, so you quickly identify a crisis and handle it before it does significant damage to your business. It can also help you identify the influencers of your industry, so you can team up with them for promoting your business. You can set up alerts for any unusual activity around your brand or the keywords relevant to your business.

Numerous buyers have appreciated that the customer support team of Falcon.io. There are real people whom you can contact for help and not just bots.

Some buyers have stated that it is expensive. Well, we agree with them, but do take their free trial and see if it suits your needs.

8- HootSuite

Hootsuite has been one of the oldest brand monitoring tools since 2008 but its new tool HootSuite Insights can help you understand what people are talking about you, your competitors, or in general regarding your industry. As expected from any of the best social listening tools, it too serves as a centralized platform for all your social activities.

You can track down your social mentions and reply to the users directly from HootSuite, regardless of which channel it is. Its analytics feature helps you filter the results by demography, language, gender, and sentiment. It can alert you when there is a sudden spike (or drop) in the discussions related to your brand, so you can act immediately.

The real-time alerts are quite helpful for crisis management as well as for attracting your competitors’ unsatisfied buyers. Hootsuite can scan over 100 million sources in more than 50 languages, including blogs, news sites, and forums so you don’t miss anything relevant. No wonder why it is counted among the best social listening tools for corporate communications.

This decade-old social media monitoring tool comes with a learning curve. You will take time to get used to it.

It offers a free basic plan that lets you operate 3 social accounts. You can try it out and see if it works for you.

9- Keyhole

As expected from the best tools for social media listening listed here, Keyhole too helps you automate your social media posts as well as track down the keywords and hashtags relevant to your business. Initially, it started with just Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram but now it covers millions of websites, blogs, and forums including Quora and Reddit. In fact, it is one of the reddit best social listening tools. But, ours is cheaper and quicker than Keyhole (try it out).

Keyhole’s hashtag analytics sets it apart from numerous other social listening tools. It uses AI to help businesses predict better hashtags and to gauge how their hashtags will perform. It can also help you analyze the sentiments of the hashtags and mentions so you can create stronger, more effective marketing campaigns.

Another thing that we love about Keyhole is its shareable dashboard. If you are a marketing or ad agency, you can share it with your clients or team so they too can see what’s up with their brand.

The hefty price tag is the only thing that we don’t like about it.

10- Buffer

Being a streamlined social media management and social listening, Buffer too offers almost everything that you would need to stay alert about the happenings around your brand and your industry.

Its standard plan Buffer publish is meant for automating the social media publishing tasks but it offers limited data analytics options. If you want detailed information and deeper insights, you need to buy its standalone ‘Analyze’ service. It is a new feature but many buyers have claimed that Buffer Analyze offers as much value as other best social media listening tools listed here but at a fairly low price. It comes with a 14-day trial period, so do not hesitate to try it out.

Buffer Analyze has the ability to track the popular hashtags related to your industry, so you can use them to gain more social media engagements. This is why users have rated it as one of the best instagram social listening tools. It is highly effective for tracking Facebook and Twitter content too.

It can break down the analyzed data in terms of demographics, gender, age, and other standard measures, so you can create better social media content. It can also help you figure out what time and how often you should post on social media so your posts get maximum attention.

Buffer Analyze is a standalone tool that doesn’t let you manage your social media accounts. You will have to buy its ‘Publish’ tool separately, which could get quite costly for small businesses.

11- TweetReach

It is one of the simple social tools, meant for monitoring Twitter but the improved version works for Facebook and Instagram too.

It provides comprehensive, real-time analytics of your relevant keyword, person, hashtag, or Twitter handle. It can help you determine the reach and sentiment of the relevant Twitter posts. It can also help you discover the hashtags that are generating maximum conversations, so you can create better social media posts. Tweetreach is also an excellent tool for competitor analysis.

It is one of the best listening tools for social media for businesses that are highly active on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram. Other tools are expensive but they do cover millions of websites. If you are a small or medium-scale business, you probably don’t get so much attention from millions of web pages. TweetReach can serve your social listening requirements.

12- BuzzSumo

If you have just started being active on social media and need help creating an effective social media strategy, BuzzSumo can help. It is essentially a content analysis tool but the recent updates also make it a bit effective for social listening.

Its social listening skills aren’t as good as the other best social listening tools listed here. However, no one can beat BuzzSumo in terms of content analytics. If you want to create effective social media campaigns, this tool is a worthy option.

It can scan Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Reddit and help you identify which topics, keywords, and trends are doing well there. It can identify the reach of your posts. This will help you come up with an influential social media strategy. Whoever asks us what are the best social listening tools for ad agencies, social media marketers, etc., we suggest BuzzSumo.

Currently, BuzzSumo doesn’t track instagram, nor does it offer social publishing.

13- Oktopost

Out of all the best listening tools for social media listed here, Oktopost is the only one that is truly meant for B2B companies.

It can help you manage numerous social accounts from its dashboard. You can add each one’s company page and personal profiles and also invite them to join the board and review your strategy. It can help you determine the type of posts that get maximum attention. It can also help you figure out the right time to post your content so it gets maximum attention.

Oktopost can provide you with real-time data on what is being said about your customer’s brand, relevant keywords, competitors, or its industry in general. It has a live monitoring stream that helps you track the mentions so you can engage in real-time social media conversations and handle the crisis on-time or maybe use your competitors’ crisis for your benefit.

Oktopost offers seamless integration with Google Analytics, Salesforce, Hubspot, etc. so you can use it as a centralized platform for most of your business activities, and not just social listening.

14-Tailwind

It is one of the best Instagram social listening tools and it works equally good for Pinterest as well.

Other than scheduling and publishing a week’s content on these platforms, Tailwind can help you identify the right time when you should post your content to get maximum attention. You can use its analytics features to find out the best-performing hashtags. You can also get in-depth insights on how well your posts are performing and what improvements you need to make.

15- Socialbakers

It is one of the oldest and best social media listening tools that we highly recommend for businesses that want to use social platforms for driving sales as well as building their online reputation.

Its creators claim that it is the first AI-powered social media tracking tool. Its persona mapping feature is renowned to be very accurate and helpful. It can help you understand your buyers’ and prospects’ interests and behavior, so you can tweak your product or services to match their choices.

Persona mapping isn’t just about filtering your users in terms of age, gender, location, and occupation. It offers much deeper insights such as understanding who they are and what they want. Not many social mentions and social media monitoring are able to do this. While this sounds tempting, do note that Persona Mapping is available only with its upper-grade plans, which are quite expensive.

Some other benefits of Socialbakers are social media monitoring, tracking mentions, tracking trends, content intelligence, social scheduling, and publishing, etc.

16- YouScan

Unlike other best social listening tools that confuse you with a handful of plans, each having some additional features than its lower plan, YouScan has stuck to 5 searches in all its plans. But the search analysis varies in each of them.

YouScan uses Boolean search to help you track keywords, brand mentions, hashtags, etc., and even analyze the sentiments of these mentions. If you are new to Boolean search, don’t worry; it isn’t too complicated and it’s definitely worth learning.

YouScan is one of the few best social media listening tools that provide image analysis too. It is an AI engine that can evaluate the images related to your industry, so you can get an idea of what your audience is talking about. YouScan’s visual insights can help you discover edited or deleted logos, scenes, and objects, and analyze the overall sentiment of the photo. These days most of us love memes and tracking images makes complete sense and worthy of its high price tag.

17- Notify.ly

It is one of the simple social tools meant for small businesses that do not require too much analytics and data from social media. Very inexpensive and yet does a decent job in terms of social listening.

Just like our reddit best social listening tool Notifier, it too alerts you about your mentions within seconds, instead of making you wait for hourly updates. It is not built to scan millions of websites, forums, etc. but it covers the major ones.

18- Syften

Just like Notify.ly, this product too is aimed at small businesses that want to enhance their online presence by participating in relevant discussions and interacting with their buyers and prospects. It can provide instant notifications of mentions and keywords, so you can quickly jump into the conversations and build your brand name.

Despite being an inexpensive social media listening tool, it provides slack integration, RSS, and API. Definitely worth trying.

19- F5bot

It is a free online brand monitoring tool we recommend for tracking Reddit, Hacker news, and Lobsters. You can use it to track your brand mentions as well as monitor your projects and topics of your interest. What we love about it is that it too offers instant notification just like our app Notifier; just that our app is inexpensive and can cover most social media platforms.

20- Google Alerts

This is an obvious entry to our list of best tools for social media listening. It is free, so don’t expect it to provide you accurate results and a detailed analysisIf you are new to social media listening or tracking, it could serve as a learning platform. But, you will soon have to move to a better tool. Nevertheless, it is still the best free tool for beginners.

Do not hesitate to experiment with social media listening tools

Almost all of the best social listening tools listed here come with a free trial period. Do not hesitate to try as many tools as you can and see which one works best for your needs.

Don’t get overwhelmed with a tool’s dashboard and an overload of data and analytics. Most tools come with free video guides so you will be able to figure out how you can analyze the data and what you can do with it. Once you have found the right tool for you, don’t jump in and buy an annual plan. We suggest you start with a monthly membership to see how it goes for you. When you are all set, you can buy whichever plan suits you best.

If you are new to social media tracking and listening, here are some tips on how you can use social media to advertise your business and how social listening can increase your customer advocacy.