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March 18, 2024

The 11 Best Social Listening Tools in 2024

by
Kim

Kim is a social listening and strategy consultant. Kim works with clients to identify how social media can best help their business and create workable strategies to achieve those goals.

The 11 Best Social Listening Tools in 2024
Table of contents

Social listening is no longer a niche idea or nice-to-have. It is fast becoming a vital function for your social media team and multiple business departments. If you want to avoid getting left behind, and missing out on opportunities, then social media listening is imperative. 

If you are new to social listening and don’t know where to start, don’t worry. In this article, we identify the best tools to help you run a social listening project in 2024.

What is Social Listening?

Social listening means listening to what users say on social media and then analysing the data to generate insights.  There are two ways you can go about social listening. One is manually, where you gather the data yourself, add it to a spreadsheet and then analyse the data from there. This requires quite a time commitment and some expertise.

The more common way, is to use a  social listening tool, these are easier than you might think, and you don’t need to be able to write code to get going.

To get started you’ll decided what you want to listen to and then create a boolean query (a line of text that specifies exactly what you want to search for).

The tool will then collect this data, and from there it’s up to you to clea, analyse and find the insights that you’re looking for.

These  insights and can be used across  multiple business areas including, but not limited to, Social Media Strategy, Content Strategy, Audience Analysis, Research & Development, Brand Monitoring, Cultural Trends, Campaign Planning, Identifying Whitespaces, and many more. 

How to choose a social listening tool?

Deciding on a social listening tool can be a big decision, as many of the options available are costly and require year-long contracts. So, you want to be sure you know what you want before making a choice.

Here are some vital things to consider.

Where do you want to listen?

Different social media listening tools are better suited to different platforms. Some social listening tools are specific to certain social platforms. Understanding the most important platforms for your project is really important when defining the right tool for you.

Who will be using the tool, how many people, and what are their skill levels?

Social listening can be incredibly complex, involving crafting long boolean strings and manual data deep dives, or it can be as simple as adding keywords to a search bar and using AI to give you the key themes. 

Getting clear about who is going to be using the tool, how many seats you’ll need and how experienced your social listener is will help to steer your decision.

Is it just for social listening, or do you want it to do social media management as well?

These days, loads of social media management tools feature a social listening component. Is your owned social media going to be managed by the same team that is responsible for your social listening? If so, maybe an all-in-one tool is the best solution for you.

What is your budget?

There are budget social listening tools, enterprise level social listening tools and everything in between. Knowing what you can afford to spend will narrow your decision-making process from the get-go and will stop you from wasting time.

What do you want to understand?

Do you even need a traditional social listening tool? Maybe a social trend identification tool or an audience analysis tool, both of which use social listening to power their insights, will be more beneficial. Decide what is most important for you to discover and add this to your list.

The Eleven Best Social Listening Tools in 2024

This section will guide you through some of the best social listening tools available in 2024. They are grouped by budget, and there’s a special section at the end for the less traditional social listening tools too. You’ll notice that there are more tools in the Enterprise section, this is because social listening is by nature quite costly, and the software solutions unfortunately reflect this.

Budget:

Mention. Mention is a great all-round social listening tool at a good price. It allows you to track all social platforms, including TikTok. It’s really easy to set up, and you can start by initially just tracking hashtags. One thing to note is that the smaller plans don’t allow you to track very many mentions. So, if you have a limited budget, you should look at the smaller hashtags you’ve identified.

Brand 24. Brand 24 is a social media analytics platform where you can also do some social listening, through hashtag tracking and analysis. It also uses AI for sentiment analysis, among other things. It’s a really good versatile solution for those getting started with social listening.  It starts at just $79 per month for individuals and is a cost-effective solution for SMEs.

Mid Range:

Exolyt. Exolyt is designed specifically for TikTok and is a great quality tool with accounts starting at a very reasonable price. With Exolyt, you can track hashtags, compare SOV, understand the sentiment and much more. There are also options to understand trending hashtags, sounds and influencers on the platform. You can also track and compare TikTok accounts and identify influencers. If you’re looking for a TikTok-specific solution, then this is a great tool.

YouScan. YouScan is also an enterprise platform but has an affordable small business option that is really impressive. YouScan is another social listening tool that allows you to monitor multiple platforms, including all social media, multiple forums, review sites, and more.

The insights are fantastic and feature some world-class visual/logo analysis alongside influencer analysis, audience interests, and the ability to create dashboards and tag posts so you can analyse your data more thoroughly. 

YouScan appeals to social listening newbies and pros alike. It is a top-quality all-rounder, and the smaller business plan is brilliant value for money. 

Enterprise.

ViralMoment. ViralMoment is a TikTok-specific enterprise solution. It allows you to do super deep-level analysis of almost anything that you want on TikTok. You can track audio and visuals in TikTok, alongside learning what’s trending in your industry, benchmarking yourself against competitors and more. 

BrandWatch. Brandwatch is one of the biggest and best-known social media listening tools, and rightly so. It’s been around since 2007.  It’s a top tool that allows you to deep dive into whatever you want across social media. Brandwatch acquired Falcon.io and now offers a hybrid social media management and social listening platform. It has a whole slew of capabilities including AI trend analysis and content calendar collaboration. Definitely a good one for the larger teams out there!

Pulsar Platform. Pulsar is a brilliant social listening tool that allows you to listen across all social platforms (including Discord and Twitch). It’s good for both newbies and pros and everything in between, because it can set up the searches manually with up to 3k character search strings, or with the ‘wizard’, which just uses keywords. Pulsar has a great new search function that allows you to find relevant content on the web with great filters. However, Pulsar Platform really excels with its ability to build dashboards however you like them. They also offer templates for the less advanced user. Pulsar also provides a social media management platform for those wishing to take a hybrid approach.

SproutSocial. SproutSocial is, first and foremost, a social media management platform, but it has a social listening module that integrates seamlessly into the rest of the tool. One of the best things about SproutSocial is that you can plug so many different services into it, so you get a holistic view of your brand on social media. Sprout also has built-in templates to set up social listening quickly and easily. Sprout is recommended for social media management teams who want to add in some social listening instead of for social listening first teams.

Social Listening Tools with a Difference:

Next Atlas: Generate. Next Atlas is a trends platform powered by social listening data. It’s a great insights tool for futures teams. They also offer a really competitively priced option. Next Atlas: Generate, in their own words “Generate uses advanced natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to analyse vast amounts of data and predict future trends in a wide range of industries and markets.” Although this isn’t straight social listening, it’s a useful add-on for your social listening team and helps to future proof your social strategy.

Audiense:  Audiense describes itself as an audience intelligence tool. Leveraging audience data from various social media platforms, Audiense is an incredibly powerful audience analysis tool. You can build a social audience from owned or competitor followers or simply people who have talked about your keywords over the last month. The genius comes with the ability to cluster that audience into interest groups, deep dive into who they are, what they’re doing online, where they are doing it, and even overlay behavioural science analysis across the clusters. Audiense also integrates with various social listening tools (including Pulsar), allowing you to cluster and analyse the audience you’ve listened to during your search. 

SparkToro. Set up by Rand Fishkin of Moz fame, Sparktoro is a pretty new social listening tool. It was originally set up as a social audience analysis tool and is based on Twitter data. Since X has shifted focus, Sparktoro have released a beta of Version 2, which allows you to search for an audience who use certain keywords, visit individual websites, or use specific words in their social bios. The audience insights are great, you can see what Subreddits and podcasts your audience is interested in. There are three different levels of access, each with more advanced features. Sparktoro has almost no learning curve and is cost-effective for teams of all sizes. It’s definitely one of our favourites. 

Benefits of social media listening tools

Now you know what to look for, and some of the best tools available for every budget. But, what is the benefit of using social listening tools in the first place?

Social listening tools make it much easier to not only collect the relevant data, but also to collate data from multiple sources and ultimately to analyse and compare that information.

Whether you’re interested in brand monitoring, what your competitors are doing, understanding a specific category or analysing a social audience, to do it well, you will need a social listening tool. 

Tips To Get The Most Out Of Social Listening Tools

There’s no one-size-fits-all all approach to all social listening tools, but there are some broader principles that we can use to make sure we’re getting the best results possible from our listening projects.

  1. Be clear about your objectives - Before you set up any search, you’ve got to get crystal clear on what you want to learn and what you want to do with the learnings you uncover . This will help you with step two.
  2. Spend time doing your desk research - This isn’t something people talk about enough. Researching what you’re going to be listening to is going to make your search much better. Tip! Use desk research to ensure you’re using the same language as the audience you want to listen to, so you’re picking up all your relevant mentions.
  3. Make your search as good as possible - Now you’ve done the research, and you’ve got a good idea of the platforms and search terms that you want to listen to, create your search and refine it, and then refine it again. The more precise your search, the better the results then the less time you’ll have to spend cleaning the data. Tip! Always look out for any K-pop crossover in your keywords. K-pop stans get everywhere and they’re very vocal on social. One K-pop keyword can wreck your search!
  4. Clean that data - Once you’ve got your data set back, you need to manually go through your mentions and check that they are relevant to your search and delete/tag any that you’re not sure about. If you find a specific irrelevant theme keeps coming up, search for that keyword and delete the mentions en masse.
  5. Dashboards are your best friend - Social listening tools allow you to create charts from your data. This is where the social listening magic happens. Building dashboards helps you understand things like how your audience and conversion differ from platform to platform, when your key moments of the year are, and so much more. Tip! Duplicating charts for different platforms and territories makes it super easy to compare and contrast the data.
  6. Find the stories - Now you’ve got your dashboards and have an idea about some of your insights, what story are they telling? Being able to craft a narrative around your social listening data makes it easier to get other people to understand and value your work.
  7. Share the insights - Finally, the most important part, now you’ve got your dashboards and figured out your narrative, it’s time to share the results with the teams that matter. Share your results far and wide, social data can be valuable to teams other than social media and content.

Why you should use a passionfruit specialist to help with your TikTok social listening campaign

After reading this article you’re probably starting to realise how complex a good social listening report can be. 

Hiring someone who is experienced in what to look for, and knows how to analyse and communicate their findings is going to save you so much time and money! 

More and more we’re seeing social insights being used across multiple business functions, these up-to-the-minute, bespoke results are worth their weight in gold, so hiring someone experienced is a no-brainer!

Conclusion

In 2024 brands and businesses can’t afford not to be using social listening to understand their audiences, their customers, the pain points, key moments and more. Social listening can be used across many different business areas and isn’t limited to just being useful to the marketing team.

Before you decide which social listening tool you want to use, get clear on your goals and objectives and do your research as there are loads of great tools out there!

When using your listening tool, ensure you’re doing your desk research and cleaning your data properly before you look for your insights. Most importantly, make sure that you’re communicating your findings effectively with the right people in your organisation.

Professor Passionfruit Illustration
Table of Contents

Social listening is no longer a niche idea or nice-to-have. It is fast becoming a vital function for your social media team and multiple business departments. If you want to avoid getting left behind, and missing out on opportunities, then social media listening is imperative. 

If you are new to social listening and don’t know where to start, don’t worry. In this article, we identify the best tools to help you run a social listening project in 2024.

What is Social Listening?

Social listening means listening to what users say on social media and then analysing the data to generate insights.  There are two ways you can go about social listening. One is manually, where you gather the data yourself, add it to a spreadsheet and then analyse the data from there. This requires quite a time commitment and some expertise.

The more common way, is to use a  social listening tool, these are easier than you might think, and you don’t need to be able to write code to get going.

To get started you’ll decided what you want to listen to and then create a boolean query (a line of text that specifies exactly what you want to search for).

The tool will then collect this data, and from there it’s up to you to clea, analyse and find the insights that you’re looking for.

These  insights and can be used across  multiple business areas including, but not limited to, Social Media Strategy, Content Strategy, Audience Analysis, Research & Development, Brand Monitoring, Cultural Trends, Campaign Planning, Identifying Whitespaces, and many more. 

How to choose a social listening tool?

Deciding on a social listening tool can be a big decision, as many of the options available are costly and require year-long contracts. So, you want to be sure you know what you want before making a choice.

Here are some vital things to consider.

Where do you want to listen?

Different social media listening tools are better suited to different platforms. Some social listening tools are specific to certain social platforms. Understanding the most important platforms for your project is really important when defining the right tool for you.

Who will be using the tool, how many people, and what are their skill levels?

Social listening can be incredibly complex, involving crafting long boolean strings and manual data deep dives, or it can be as simple as adding keywords to a search bar and using AI to give you the key themes. 

Getting clear about who is going to be using the tool, how many seats you’ll need and how experienced your social listener is will help to steer your decision.

Is it just for social listening, or do you want it to do social media management as well?

These days, loads of social media management tools feature a social listening component. Is your owned social media going to be managed by the same team that is responsible for your social listening? If so, maybe an all-in-one tool is the best solution for you.

What is your budget?

There are budget social listening tools, enterprise level social listening tools and everything in between. Knowing what you can afford to spend will narrow your decision-making process from the get-go and will stop you from wasting time.

What do you want to understand?

Do you even need a traditional social listening tool? Maybe a social trend identification tool or an audience analysis tool, both of which use social listening to power their insights, will be more beneficial. Decide what is most important for you to discover and add this to your list.

The Eleven Best Social Listening Tools in 2024

This section will guide you through some of the best social listening tools available in 2024. They are grouped by budget, and there’s a special section at the end for the less traditional social listening tools too. You’ll notice that there are more tools in the Enterprise section, this is because social listening is by nature quite costly, and the software solutions unfortunately reflect this.

Budget:

Mention. Mention is a great all-round social listening tool at a good price. It allows you to track all social platforms, including TikTok. It’s really easy to set up, and you can start by initially just tracking hashtags. One thing to note is that the smaller plans don’t allow you to track very many mentions. So, if you have a limited budget, you should look at the smaller hashtags you’ve identified.

Brand 24. Brand 24 is a social media analytics platform where you can also do some social listening, through hashtag tracking and analysis. It also uses AI for sentiment analysis, among other things. It’s a really good versatile solution for those getting started with social listening.  It starts at just $79 per month for individuals and is a cost-effective solution for SMEs.

Mid Range:

Exolyt. Exolyt is designed specifically for TikTok and is a great quality tool with accounts starting at a very reasonable price. With Exolyt, you can track hashtags, compare SOV, understand the sentiment and much more. There are also options to understand trending hashtags, sounds and influencers on the platform. You can also track and compare TikTok accounts and identify influencers. If you’re looking for a TikTok-specific solution, then this is a great tool.

YouScan. YouScan is also an enterprise platform but has an affordable small business option that is really impressive. YouScan is another social listening tool that allows you to monitor multiple platforms, including all social media, multiple forums, review sites, and more.

The insights are fantastic and feature some world-class visual/logo analysis alongside influencer analysis, audience interests, and the ability to create dashboards and tag posts so you can analyse your data more thoroughly. 

YouScan appeals to social listening newbies and pros alike. It is a top-quality all-rounder, and the smaller business plan is brilliant value for money. 

Enterprise.

ViralMoment. ViralMoment is a TikTok-specific enterprise solution. It allows you to do super deep-level analysis of almost anything that you want on TikTok. You can track audio and visuals in TikTok, alongside learning what’s trending in your industry, benchmarking yourself against competitors and more. 

BrandWatch. Brandwatch is one of the biggest and best-known social media listening tools, and rightly so. It’s been around since 2007.  It’s a top tool that allows you to deep dive into whatever you want across social media. Brandwatch acquired Falcon.io and now offers a hybrid social media management and social listening platform. It has a whole slew of capabilities including AI trend analysis and content calendar collaboration. Definitely a good one for the larger teams out there!

Pulsar Platform. Pulsar is a brilliant social listening tool that allows you to listen across all social platforms (including Discord and Twitch). It’s good for both newbies and pros and everything in between, because it can set up the searches manually with up to 3k character search strings, or with the ‘wizard’, which just uses keywords. Pulsar has a great new search function that allows you to find relevant content on the web with great filters. However, Pulsar Platform really excels with its ability to build dashboards however you like them. They also offer templates for the less advanced user. Pulsar also provides a social media management platform for those wishing to take a hybrid approach.

SproutSocial. SproutSocial is, first and foremost, a social media management platform, but it has a social listening module that integrates seamlessly into the rest of the tool. One of the best things about SproutSocial is that you can plug so many different services into it, so you get a holistic view of your brand on social media. Sprout also has built-in templates to set up social listening quickly and easily. Sprout is recommended for social media management teams who want to add in some social listening instead of for social listening first teams.

Social Listening Tools with a Difference:

Next Atlas: Generate. Next Atlas is a trends platform powered by social listening data. It’s a great insights tool for futures teams. They also offer a really competitively priced option. Next Atlas: Generate, in their own words “Generate uses advanced natural language processing and machine learning algorithms to analyse vast amounts of data and predict future trends in a wide range of industries and markets.” Although this isn’t straight social listening, it’s a useful add-on for your social listening team and helps to future proof your social strategy.

Audiense:  Audiense describes itself as an audience intelligence tool. Leveraging audience data from various social media platforms, Audiense is an incredibly powerful audience analysis tool. You can build a social audience from owned or competitor followers or simply people who have talked about your keywords over the last month. The genius comes with the ability to cluster that audience into interest groups, deep dive into who they are, what they’re doing online, where they are doing it, and even overlay behavioural science analysis across the clusters. Audiense also integrates with various social listening tools (including Pulsar), allowing you to cluster and analyse the audience you’ve listened to during your search. 

SparkToro. Set up by Rand Fishkin of Moz fame, Sparktoro is a pretty new social listening tool. It was originally set up as a social audience analysis tool and is based on Twitter data. Since X has shifted focus, Sparktoro have released a beta of Version 2, which allows you to search for an audience who use certain keywords, visit individual websites, or use specific words in their social bios. The audience insights are great, you can see what Subreddits and podcasts your audience is interested in. There are three different levels of access, each with more advanced features. Sparktoro has almost no learning curve and is cost-effective for teams of all sizes. It’s definitely one of our favourites. 

Benefits of social media listening tools

Now you know what to look for, and some of the best tools available for every budget. But, what is the benefit of using social listening tools in the first place?

Social listening tools make it much easier to not only collect the relevant data, but also to collate data from multiple sources and ultimately to analyse and compare that information.

Whether you’re interested in brand monitoring, what your competitors are doing, understanding a specific category or analysing a social audience, to do it well, you will need a social listening tool. 

Tips To Get The Most Out Of Social Listening Tools

There’s no one-size-fits-all all approach to all social listening tools, but there are some broader principles that we can use to make sure we’re getting the best results possible from our listening projects.

  1. Be clear about your objectives - Before you set up any search, you’ve got to get crystal clear on what you want to learn and what you want to do with the learnings you uncover . This will help you with step two.
  2. Spend time doing your desk research - This isn’t something people talk about enough. Researching what you’re going to be listening to is going to make your search much better. Tip! Use desk research to ensure you’re using the same language as the audience you want to listen to, so you’re picking up all your relevant mentions.
  3. Make your search as good as possible - Now you’ve done the research, and you’ve got a good idea of the platforms and search terms that you want to listen to, create your search and refine it, and then refine it again. The more precise your search, the better the results then the less time you’ll have to spend cleaning the data. Tip! Always look out for any K-pop crossover in your keywords. K-pop stans get everywhere and they’re very vocal on social. One K-pop keyword can wreck your search!
  4. Clean that data - Once you’ve got your data set back, you need to manually go through your mentions and check that they are relevant to your search and delete/tag any that you’re not sure about. If you find a specific irrelevant theme keeps coming up, search for that keyword and delete the mentions en masse.
  5. Dashboards are your best friend - Social listening tools allow you to create charts from your data. This is where the social listening magic happens. Building dashboards helps you understand things like how your audience and conversion differ from platform to platform, when your key moments of the year are, and so much more. Tip! Duplicating charts for different platforms and territories makes it super easy to compare and contrast the data.
  6. Find the stories - Now you’ve got your dashboards and have an idea about some of your insights, what story are they telling? Being able to craft a narrative around your social listening data makes it easier to get other people to understand and value your work.
  7. Share the insights - Finally, the most important part, now you’ve got your dashboards and figured out your narrative, it’s time to share the results with the teams that matter. Share your results far and wide, social data can be valuable to teams other than social media and content.

Why you should use a passionfruit specialist to help with your TikTok social listening campaign

After reading this article you’re probably starting to realise how complex a good social listening report can be. 

Hiring someone who is experienced in what to look for, and knows how to analyse and communicate their findings is going to save you so much time and money! 

More and more we’re seeing social insights being used across multiple business functions, these up-to-the-minute, bespoke results are worth their weight in gold, so hiring someone experienced is a no-brainer!

Conclusion

In 2024 brands and businesses can’t afford not to be using social listening to understand their audiences, their customers, the pain points, key moments and more. Social listening can be used across many different business areas and isn’t limited to just being useful to the marketing team.

Before you decide which social listening tool you want to use, get clear on your goals and objectives and do your research as there are loads of great tools out there!

When using your listening tool, ensure you’re doing your desk research and cleaning your data properly before you look for your insights. Most importantly, make sure that you’re communicating your findings effectively with the right people in your organisation.

Written by
Kim Townend
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Professor Passionfruit Illustration

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