October 2019 Update: Trends change, technology advances, and correspondingly, social analytics and social media management tools become increasingly more powerful. What are the top social media tools to have on your radar in 2020? We have an updated list!
But first, we have a quick refresher on everything you need to look for in a social analytics tool, along with a super important section detailing how the right social media management capabilities can make or break a brand’s efforts.
Already know what you need to look for and why? Skip right to the list of tools!
Social Analytics Tools Are evolving along with consumers
Social consumers are constantly evolving. They know they have choices, and they know they’re in charge. Brands that don’t connect at a human, personal level may never break through the noise.
And brands that succeed on authenticity, but fail to respond when things go wrong, risk not only losing customers, but seeing those customers shame them publicly – sometimes with disastrous results.
The good news is, consumers share, share, share on social – and if brands only listen, they have access to everything they need to soar in every area of brand operations. Here are a few ways social analytics data empowers your brand:
Consumers trust other consumers more than they trust you, so influencers with a passion for your brand are very valuable. Social listening helps you find them. Not only that, it helps you separate genuine influencers from inflaters. They’re hard to spot with the naked eye
Whatever topics have audiences chattering obsessively about online – you have the option to weigh in. Beyond that, social insights reveal industry and category trends worth embracing – the kind that inspire new products to meet unmet need and/or changes in how you do business. If you want to be a category leader, you need to get great at spotting trends before they hit mainstream. It’s no longer just about marketing.
Creating Engaging Content:
What does your audience want to see, and where are they looking? Social data tells you, so you can provide the right content, on the right channels, at the right time. Because it’s not just about what gets the most likes, far from it. It’s about what is providing true lift in brand awareness – and why. Social listening can tell you that.
Keeping an Eye on Competitors:
Competitive intelligence alone is really worth the price of admission, and it’s one reason social listening tools are a must. Everything your shared audience thinks and feels is available to you – and you better believe your competitors are taking advantage of it. Wouldn’t you like to know where your competitors are falling short so you can pick up customers they’re leaving in a lurch? Sure, you would. And you can bet they’re gathering insight around your brand’s missteps as well. Social analytics helps you understand what is and isn’t working around your own efforts and the same intel is available about your competitors. So, get on that!
Guarding Your Reputation:
There’s no margin for error in the current competitive climate, so avoiding a brand crisis is critical. After all, it only takes one post to start the viral snowball rolling down the hill. And once it really gets rolling, getting ahead of it can be impossible. Social monitoring alerts you to potential problems well before you’d know otherwise, so you can nip them in the bud before they go viral. And you can also capture competitor crises and swoop in, as appropriate. Brands are increasingly taking advantage of competitor crisis alerts as well.
There’s really no limit to the use cases social listening supports – especially when you have the right tools. But before diving in – have you considered the importance of the selecting the right tools, from a social media management perspective? Let’s check it out.
Selecting the Right Social Media Management Tools
The social media management tools you use can enhance or limit your brand’s capabilities. There are limitless options to choose from, including:
- Basic to sophisticated social sharing capabilities
- Advanced advertising understanding
- Tracking media mentions
- Creating influencer marketing collaborations
- Curating and managing content
- Managing employee advocates’ online activity
- Creating benchmarks for all brand-related activity web-wide
- Understanding and communicating ROI
And then there are tools that defy neat categorization. They offer a variety of key social media management insights that are essential to capturing behind the scenes intel around a variety of scenarios. It’s where we find tools that make your life easier, versus those that make it nonsensically harder. So, two points to keep in mind when making that very important determination include:
Does the tool offer easy integration with other tools? If you’re searching for one solution that meets every social media management need, you’ll be left with zero options. Top performers in different categories will offer ways to integrate data into its tool or ways to export data from it.
Does it offer bells and whistles that are more of a distraction than informative? Lots of tools add on easy options (for them) that don’t really do much for you. And unless you have this top of mind as you explore your options, you’ll be left with sound and fury (from your CFO) signifying nothing. Well, except your reduced marketing budget and potentially your job . . . but we digress.
This industry-recognized platform that’s powered by Next Generation Artificial Intelligence (AI) recently announced its first-to-market automated theme discovery platform, AI Studio.
Already the leader in transparent and accurate intel, the social analytics provider helps brands breathe easier with contextualized insight found via social listening, social monitoring, image analysis, competitive analysis, influencer identification, crisis response and tons more.
Understanding the voice of the customer to create an unparalleled customer experience, and guarding brand health with real-time visual reporting and alerts, combined with a commitment to innovating as the industry changes, keeps this tool at the top of industry-leading brands “must have” list. Rounding out this comprehensive solution with stellar customer service makes it a no brainer to take for a test drive ahead of finalizing 2020 social media management budgets!
Price: Request a demo.
Brands can create, analyze and edit campaigns in Facebook, Instagram, and Google AdWords using AdEspresso by Hootsuite. Their SMB option offers AdEspresso University, to help you improve your advertising skills and social media management skills, while their agency option allows integration with clients for easy approval of campaigns.
Brands can create experiments to test ad options in minutes, or auto-optimize, or auto-boost campaigns for best performance.
Price: Starts at $69/month.
AgoraPulse lets you monitor social conversations on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, and engage from a single inbox. Keep content organized and monitor competitors by tagging important content. You can also manage Facebook and Instagram ad comments – though you’ll want to be sure they have workarounds for the new Instagram API changes.
Brands can schedule, reschedule or queue their posts and images in bulk. It’s a pretty handy social media management tool to have, for sure.
Price: Starts at $89/month
Speaking to social consumers personally is a big piece of the puzzle, and audience segmentation is the best way to do that. Grouping consumers together by interests and appealing to them with individualized messaging is a crucial component of social media marketing. And a social media management tool that can help with that is huge.
Audiense focuses on identifying those interests and breaking them down so you can learn about the people who like your brand (or your competitors). It doesn’t really delve into the why, which makes it hard to act, but it’s a good first step. Be sure to pair it with a solid sentiment analysis tool to capture the big picture.
They also have Audiense Connect which is a Twitter management platform and available for an additional, nominal fee.
Price: $696/month when paid annually.
For indie creators and innovators, crowdfunding is a must – but it’s not just for unsigned bands and the like. High-profile projects like the Veronica Mars movie have been funded in just this way, so it makes sense there’s a solution for wrangling social influencers for this purpose.
CrowdBooster helps you reach your target audience on Instagram and Pinterest to grow your campaign and get the funding you need for your latest invention. It also helps with press releases and after your campaign is funded – it manages shipping! This is one social media management tool that provides a hassle free experience for a very specific niche need.
Price: Starts at $26/week for Instagram/Pinterest audience growth.
Brands can “streamline their business workflow” with Everypost.
Visual and multimedia content is essential to standing out, so Everypost helps you curate and schedule content from sources like YouTube, Flickr and more to ensure your content is eye-catching. Easily customize content for differing social channels to keep cross-posting from being repetitive. And then use built-in analytics to understand number of fans/followers, post frequency and breakdown of post type.
It also shares analytics around best posting times, top posts, and how you rank against competitors. This is a great, basic social media marketing solution that comes with a host of extras that brands need!
Price: Free for two weeks and starts at $9.99/month
Capturing a wide variety of marketing and data sources in one place, Funnel is pretty neat. Boasting an impressive 405 data source integrations, Funnel brings all your advertising data into one place for easy analysis. Brands can see how they’re tracking against budgets and targets in real-time. And then tie data insights back to ROI for a clear understanding of your marketing efforts’ impact. Pull data into any other dashboard tool for a comprehensive view.
It’s missing sentiment analysis and you’ll want that. Integrating it with another, more robust offering will be important, as it shares right on its site!
Price: Starts at $499/month.
Community management is important – and for many brands that means Facebook Groups. Grytics is designed to help you manage multiple groups from one platform, compare insights and best practices, collaborate with team members, stay organized with their Tags System, and analyze and schedule content. If Facebook Groups are a big part of your social strategy, this is a useful app.
It’s in-depth content analytics with a side of social sharing.
Price: Starts at $99/month.
Want real followers on Instagram and struggling to make that happen? Kicksta helps Instagram brands and influencers attract more followers by targeting the followers of similar accounts, liking their posts, and assuming they’ll check you out and follow-back. It’s not the worst idea – especially for smaller brands without the budget for more comprehensive tools, or the time to do such work manually.
By automating the process, Kicksta builds your following more quickly, putting you on the radar of additional followers, and helping you increase sales, paid partnership opportunities, and more.
Price: Starts at $49/month
Streamlining social media management makes brands happy and MavSocial customers are apparently the happiest!
MavSocial’s strength lies in streamlining the content curation, publishing, and analytics process. There are stock image libraries and editing tools so you can create eye-catching graphics, and you can monitor content performance, track keywords to identify trends, and reply to all social feeds from a singular inbox. Sentiment appears to be lacking – which is a big oversight.
Price: Starts at $16/month
If Twitter is your primary – or only – channel, Narrow helps you understand and attract a relevant audience there. The app interacts on your behalf with Twitter users talking about subjects relevant to your target audience. It’s a solid social media management tool for brands focused on Twitter, that’s for sure. It uses keywords, hashtags, and locations to build a bigger following, and also lets you track performance of keywords to see what’s working.
Price: Starts at $19/month
This one is geared specifically to B2B brands, which have very specific social media management needs. Okotopost allows you to “Measure the impact of every post, network, and campaign.” Features include lead generation and ROI analysis based on assigned monetary values.
Importantly, it also offers employee advocacy insights along with engagement metrics, audience trends, and more. It integrates with lots of tools, and any social media management tool that makes integrations a priority should get an extra check mark beside it. Here’s why: you’ll inevitably need it and if a tool offers easy integrations that will make your life easier! If it does not, well you should know that before you sign up!
Price: Request a demo.
Feedly is “where readers become leaders” by curating expert content that helps them establish a presence online as a thought leader.
Brands can organize content into folders and save things to read later, or share it on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, email, and more. They can also schedule posts with Hootsuite or Buffer.
Price: free or $7 per month for more advanced option
14. Rival IQ
There’s a lot that Rival IQ offers, including insights on Facebook and Instagram ads, combined with Google Analytics. It also tracks whether competitors have had success with boosted posts, which is helpful in some ways, but can be unnecessarily distracting, as you don’t know who they targeted and why. That background intel is key to understanding why a boosted post didn’t work.
You’ll get performance data on Instagram Stories, follower adds and removals, LinkedIn post insights, and more. The problem, as mentioned, is that you don’t get to see why posts are performing well (or not), so it’s hard to strategize next moves. The insight is super valuable, but needs context to be actionable. Be sure to ask about integrating with other tools.
Price: Starts at $199/month
If streamlining and managing multiple brands is on your to do list, Sender deserves a shot at your business!
Geared toward agencies – or any business with multiple brands under one umbrella – Sendible has a lot to offer. Unique inboxes for each brand make it easy to organize your workflow – as do well-thought-out collaborative tools. Be alerted to troublesome keywords, discover and publish content, and more.
Sentiment analysis identifies potential brand risks, but doesn’t seem to reveal what’s driving the emotion. This makes it hard to know what to change.
But it also offers lots of integrations, so we’re going to guess that you can partner with a powerful sentiment analysis tool to fill in those blanks and round out your social media management needs. We know one to consider!
Price: Starts at $29/month when billed annually
Automating customer service may sound like a really bad idea, but there are lots of tools offering it, so it might be something to check out here. It’s an advanced option, so they must be doing something right to have it as an additional expense.
There’s more to consider here too though. As we know, social is more than just Facebook, Twitter, etc. There are news, blogs, forums, portals and lots more that also matters. SentiOne helps you explore those channels.
You can also track influence and buzz, filter and tag mentions so you only see what matters. With sentiment, competitor analysis, geolocation data and more, there’s a lot to like here.
Price: Book a demo.
17. Sprout Social
One of the more comprehensive social media management solutions, Sprout Social aims to impact content quality, social customer service, and more with its analytics. Trend analysis, productivity measurement, and customized reporting are just some of the features on offer. The goal here is to “understand and reach your audience, engage your community and measure performance.” And it does what it says, without unnecessary extras.
They also make it easy for employees to amplify brand reach, which is a great asset.
Price: Starts at $99 per user/month.
If you have Snapchat and Instagram as your main ‘go to’ for marketing, you’ll appreciate Storyheap. Storytelling is everything – which is why Stories are so popular on Instagram and Snapchat. Storyheap is all about telling you how those Stories are doing. It tracks follower growth, how many opens, completed views, and screenshots you’ve gotten.
Not bad – if very, very specific. Many brands are not using Snapchat so the tool is very niche. Consider if it makes sense for your brand before diving in.
Price: Free trial and then starts at $49/month
If you want to save time finding content and bringing it to the screen, Tagboard seeks to save teams hours preparing and producing their events or shows. And it pitches the potential for audiences to spend longer times on a brand’s site due to its amazing video embeds – that also lead to an increase in engagement!
Search hashtags to find the most popular content trending across social channels, or create your own hashtag campaign. Add-ons let you measure ROI of campaigns, obtain licensing to broadcast user-generated content, photos and videos, add social commerce buttons to posts, share live Snapchat Stories on-air or in-stadium, and more. It’s a limited tool, but if hashtags are part of your success, it could be helpful.
“With Tagboard, every story can be interactive and include the perspectives your audience wants to see.”
Price: Request a demo.
If you want more followers on Twitter, set up your account with @users, @competitors, and hashtags – then Tweepi’s AI will get to work to find your targeted group of users.
The “most probably to engage” users are categorized, which is useful. You can reply, manage follows, likes, retweets, or unfollow inactive accounts as you go. Interacting with these highly relevant users is what helps you grow your audience according to Tweepi. At least, that’s the idea. You may want to try this tactic out on your own first before signing up though!
Price: Starts at $12.99/month
Yotpo does have sentiment analysis – something many of the tools here are missing – but it appears overly structured. It’s great to understand how consumers feels about your brand using the attributes you care most about – like size, price, service, etc. And you can see how your rank against competitors on those attributes, too.
But the best insights are often surprise discoveries you didn’t realize mattered – and those don’t seem to be available here.
Price: Start for free, then request a demo.
Social Media Tools Promote Brand Growth
Choosing social analytics tools can feel daunting – especially for smaller brands, or those just getting started with social analytics. For those using fewer platforms, or with smaller budgets, built-in analytics like Facebook Audience Insights, Instagram Insights, Twitter Moments, Pinterest Discover, and YouTube Trending you can uncover some basics to help you engage your audience effectively for free.
But ultimately, social listening tools are an investment worth making.
You may start with a less expensive tool that excels in one or two areas, as many of the above do. Or you may choose a provider like NetBase to cover all the bases social media listening requires.
At a certain point, a more streamlined and powerful platform will earn its price-tag quickly.
We’re ready to help you when that day comes. In the meantime, start “listening” and see where better insights take your brand. It’s bound to be someplace amazing.
Ready to embrace all that social listening can do for your brand? Reach out and we’ll show you how our tools do the job.