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Social media listening has changed a lot in the past few years. As the focus has shifted from simple analytics like mentions and impressions, a number of social media monitoring tools have cropped up to help marketers make the most of the wealth of data available on social media.

Which tool is right for you? That depends on where you are in the game. If you’re new to social media analytics, simpler, less expensive tools might be more your speed. More established businesses and enterprises surely need more robust offerings, capable of unearthing complex insights to inform brand decisions and ward off reputational threats.

Here are some of the best tools out there, for marketers at all levels:

1. NetBase

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Audience segmenting and targeting, and competitive intelligence, are just two facets of NetBase’s sentiment-based social listening tool. Measuring of sentiment includes Passion Intensity for easily identifying influencers, as well as Natural Language Processing (NLP) that understand slanguage, sarcasm, and emojis in addition to 42 languages out of the box. Real-time alerts, including logo recognition, keep you apprised of potential reputational threats.

Price: Request a free demo and customized quote

2. Addict-o-matic

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Addict-o-Matic  lets you instantly “Browse the News” in a number of categories, or create your own topics to measure buzz on the Web. Customize your dashboard to view the results that matter most, then bookmark and return to that topic page to keep tracking. The news pages provide “the best sources in each category” – entertainment, shopping, sports, etc. – which lets you see where those audiences are hanging out online.

Price: Free

3. Google Alerts

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Small teams and those new to the social monitoring world can still rely on Google Alerts to inform on keyword/topic mentions via daily emails. Set up multiple alerts for your own brand mentions, competitor mentions, keywords and topics – and receive notifications as they happen, once a day, or once a week depending on your needs.

Price: Free

4. IceRocket

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IceRocket is a great free tool for quickly exploring what’s happening on Twitter and the blogosphere. Filter results by domain, author, date published, language, or use advanced search to find posts on specific sites, or that link to specific pages, and more. The only drawback? You can’t save your search, so you’ll always have to start from scratch.

Price: Free

5. Social Mention

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Social Mention brings user-generated content from more than 80 social media “properties” into one place, based on your keywords. View sentiment, keywords, and reach – and filter to see blogs, microblogs, image, videos and bookmarks individually. Searches don’t save, but it’s easy enough to recreate anytime you want to see the latest.

Price: Free – contact Social Mention for commercial use of their API

6. Hootsuite

Though Hootsuite is a familiar social scheduling tool, it also offers multiple levels of social analytics for any budget. Small businesses can keep it simple with an overview of follower growth and tracking Ow.ly link clicks, or go full enterprise version to map approvals and workflows to various departments and teams, track campaign effectiveness, and more.

Price: From free to custom quote

7. HowSociable

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If you want to explore a more eclectic mix of platforms than the major players, HowSociable‘s free options shows you how your brand is faring at places like Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Foursquare, in addition to more typical platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn and Tumblr. How Sociable calculates Brand Magnitude on a scale of 0-10 using keywords. To access platforms like Facebook and Twitter, and to compare multiple keywords – for competitive intelligence, for example – you’ve got to pay.

Price: Free to $99 USD annually – historical data back to the first day a new brand was tracked is an add-on

8. Klout

Though typically known for its self-named score indicating Web influence, Klout is also a great tool – even at the free level – for sourcing ideal content. The site suggests content to share, teaches you what content is valuable as you create your own, and tracks results for you. Improve your Klout score even more by seeing how various types of content impact it.

Price: Start for free, then contact Klout for more information

9. Buzzsumo

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Monitoring brand mentions and backlinks to your site is a nice Buzzsumo feature. Even better is the ability to filter content from the past 24 hours up to the past year to see what’s trending – and where. You can even narrow content type down between options like “infographic” and “guest posts,” etc, or search for “in-depth articles only” – or set an alert to know when new info crops up for specific topics. The best feature, however, is searching influencers by topic or user name to learn what links they share, as well as retweet and reply ratios – so you never have to waste time trying to engage someone who only shares their own links, for example.

Price: Free 14-day trial, then $79 to $999 USD per month

10. Digimind

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See how you rank against competitors, or even specific products using keywords, with Digimind. The tool indicates brand sentiment as positive, neutral, or negative. Other features helping you navigate consumer interests are ability to view where conversations are happening, trending topics, and influencers.

Price: $499 USD monthly

11. Mention

Focusing on exactly what you’d think, Mention reports mentions of your brand online, or alerts you about specific keywords you choose to track – from social and news sources, blogs and forums. You can respond to mentions directly within its app, making life easier, and expand your plan to include analytics, sentiment, influencer outreach, and more.

Price: Free 2-week trial, then $29 USD monthly to custom pricing for enterprises

12. Talkwalker

Consider Talkwalker for comprehensive social listening of owned and earned media spanning 150 million websites and major social networks like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram,Weibo and YouTube in 187 languages. Global print outlets, TV and radio broadcasts can also be monitored.

Price: Starts at $8400 USD annually and up

13. Trackur

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Trackur monitors social feeds like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more, as well as mainstream news, making content discovery and journalist outreach easy. Also on offer, sentiment analysis, and influencer scoring via Klout.

Price: 10-day free trial, then $97 to $447 USD monthly

14. Brandwatch

Try Brandwatch to explore topic analysis, measure influence, and understand sentiment to inform your next move. Also alerts you to potentially damaging posts to avoid social crises. View historical data back to 2010 depending on plan.

Price: Contact Brandwatch for a customized quote

15. CyberAlert

By the numbers, CyberAlert‘s reach of news media is pretty impressive. Monitor media by type, country, language and other factors for access to everything you want to know. Enter keywords to receive daily (or customized) email alerts of news articles from more than 60,000 news sources in 191 countries, or overnight results from more than 250 local and national radio stations in the top 50 U.S. markets. Monitor closed-captioning text and news broadcast preview clips, as well as receive clips containing your specified keywords. Blogs, message boards/forums, and video descriptions are a nice bonus.

Price: Free 14-day trial, then customized to client needs

16. Little Bird

Following the conversations of influencers is a handy way to spot trends months before they “hit,” and that’s what Little Bird helps you do. By identifying networks and communities around Twitter conversations, you can find influencers based on what they’re talking about and how they are connected. Leverage topics, hashtags, @usernames and Twitter lists to make influencer outreach that much easier.

Price: Contact Little Bird for plan options

17. Nuvi

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Screencap from the Nuvi website

Nuvi offers real-time monitoring of top social networks as well as nearly 4 million RSS feeds in 20 languages. Visual dashboards let you clearly see metrics like mentions, reach, spread, and sentiment so you can make decisions quickly. And ability to publish and schedule content to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is a plus.

Price: Contact Nuvi for a customized plan

18. Synthesio

Use Synthesio to understand your global audience with real-time access to more than 100,000 websites in 96 countries and 80 languages, including Sina Weibo, VKontakte and WeChat. Surface insights for competitive intelligence, including sentiment data. Geared toward enterprise level clients.

Price: Contact Synthesio for a customized plan

19. Sysomos

Sysomos lets you search 500 billion social conversations for the ones that matter most to your brand. Measure engagement, identify influencers, and track campaign progress using SET, their all-in-one tool. Or choose the individual tool that best suits your needs.

Price: Contact Sysomos for a customized plan

20. Platform-specific tools

If your social footprint is centered around a single social platform, you might consider a social monitoring tool meant specifically for that platform.

For Twitter alone there are several to choose from, including Twitter’s own analytics.

A free option like Twazzup could be enough for some companies, with its simple list of influencers and keywords…

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…but if you need a more sophisticated Twitter-centric option, you could consider more robust tools like TweetReach. TweetReach lets you search hashtags to uncover top contributors by impressions, and more with pricing from $99 to $399 USD monthly.

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Or try Audiense for even more bells and whistles. Reach beyond your own following on Twitter and Instagram with plans starting at $31 USD monthly, or go deeper with audience segmentation and targeting capabilities starting at $10,200 USD annually.

The platform you choose will be dependent on your current needs, and your expected rate of growth. It may not be affordable to reach for an enterprise-sized solution at the moment, but there are many platforms mentioned above that can grow with you to get the job done at every stage of your marketing needs.

And if you’re ready to see how NetBase compares, reach out for a one-on-one free demo of our suite of products.

E-Book: 4 Steps to Building a Successful Social Analytics Program

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