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13 Essential Social-Media 'Listening Tools'

by Clay McDaniel  |  
May 19, 2009

You're a marketer who's hip to the idea of social media: You have a blog for your company or client, you know Facebook inside and out, and you can Tweet with the best of them. So you've got the communicating part down pat.

But the big question is, Are you listening? If you have customers, chances are they're talking about you to their friends, to their coworkers, and to anyone else who will listen.

Here are some of the top tools for listening to and monitoring the online chatter about your brand:

Free Apps

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts is the steady rock in the sometimes white-water world of monitoring. You can easily target keywords that are important to your brand and receive streaming or batched reports—choose your own adventure.

2. Technorati

Billing itself as "the leading blog search engine," Technorati has been helping bloggers and those with their fingers on the blog pulse stay informed for years.

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Clay McDaniel is principal and cofounder of social-media marketing agency Spring Creek Group (

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  • by Jason Z Tue May 19, 2009 via web

    Another tool worth checking out is BuzzDing! ( It offers unified way to keep track of social media activity across a wide range of networks all in one web-based application. And, if you're a social media pro, you can white-label BuzzDing! as a service you offer to your clients.

  • by David Alston Tue May 19, 2009 via web

    Clay, thanks kindly for including us on your list of essential listening tools. Very cool.


  • by Ari Newman Tue May 19, 2009 via web

    Hi Clay, this is a great list. Filtrbox would be a nice addition as the service offers real-time monitoring and alerting across mainstream news, blogs, twitter, friendfeed and more. With collaborative features, daily email digests, and trend analysis its competitive with some of the other offerings you mentioned. We offer a free trial version as well.

  • by Connie Bensen Tue May 19, 2009 via web

    Thanks Clay for including Techrigy in your list! It's a great place for people to start exploring tools.

    Chief Community Officer, Techrigy

  • by Margaret Francis Wed May 20, 2009 via web

    Hello Clay, you should come try out Scout Labs and see what you think. We offer a paid social media monitoring application that has some truly market leading features, like automated sentiment, theme detection, spam detection and suppression, and more, but at a really reasonable price point, especially for teams. We also make 30 day free trials standard, so anyone can try out the app. Contact us for a trial account!

  • by Mark Evans Wed May 20, 2009 via web


    Another tool for your list is Heartbeat, a real-time monitoring and measurement tool -

    We'd be happy to give you a demo soon, or do something at the Marketing Profs conference next month.

    cheers, Mark

  • by Matt Granfield Thu May 21, 2009 via web

    Great list Clay, nice work. Check out as well, it's new but quite popular.

  • by Alex Fortney Thu May 21, 2009 via web

    Adding SocialSense by Networked Insights to the list. It's a full-on listening/analytics platform - Keyword & Discovery Insights, Engagement and Sentiment analysis -

  • by Larry Levy Thu May 21, 2009 via web


    Appreciate you adding Jodange to your list. Great post where you have the most representative players covering this space - in one place.



  • by Diane Thieke Thu May 21, 2009 via web

    Hi Clay,
    Dow Jones also offers communications and marketing professionals the ability to monitor and analyze what’s being said about their company and brand. Our Dow Jones Insight service not only tracks millions of global mainstream and social media sources, but also uses advanced data visualization and discovery technologies to provide a graphical view of hot points and trends in the conversation. This means that you can identify at a glance where conversations are happening and their viral spread. Dow Jones Insight was recently cited as a strong performer by Forrester in its report on listening platforms. More information is available at

    Diane Thieke

  • by Neil Patil Thu May 21, 2009 via web

    I think keyword solutions are great to aggregate brand/product mentions and provide some level of sentiment analysis. There are several mentioned on the list above. But it's like using Google, you got to know what you are looking for. Guessing on what you should be searching for, limits your listening. So "listening" isn't about "did they say this or that?" It is about "what are the top topics of conversation right now?", "Who is saying what?", "Are they influencing others opinions?", " What is being said that I didn't expect." The latest, most robust solutions are using artificial intelligence to do all the "reading for you", with keyword-based solutions - you have to do all the reading. One such solution is our Open Mic solution, check it out at

  • by James Sun May 24, 2009 via web

    It does prove that all these guys from the other listening tools companies were listening here!

    Good job guys, and to those listening software platforms that exist, that are not yet commenting here, their platforms may not be up to par ;)

    Have a great weekend!

  • by JLibbey Tue May 26, 2009 via web

    Budurl is another link shrinker which provides metrics.

  • by Peg Mulligan Wed May 27, 2009 via web


    New to blogging, I was only aware of Google Alerts and Technorati, so this list is especially helpful to me. Thank you! --Peg

  • by Niti Dhani Tue Jun 2, 2009 via web

    Great stuff-the post actually covers the other important aspect that most of us forget-listening and not just creating a buzz on the social media. Pretty comprehensive list, and quite useful for a beginner. I am scouting around for tips to use social media effectively everywhere-came across this link to a webinar to be held by Dave Evans, it should help a lot! Fo others interested, you can register here-

  • by MAnoj Gursahani Sun Jun 7, 2009 via web

    Great post....very informative and resourceful..Thanks for sharing

  • by Jasper Blake Thu Jun 25, 2009 via web

    If you are looking at monitoring only then Social Radar by Infegy is pretty impressive.
    If you are looking beyond just monitoring and need an and end-to-end tool that allows you to monitor, engage with multi-channel networking, and measure the effectiveness of that engagement, all from one dashboard, then Social Smart is THE tool to look at -

  • by I2DLLC Fri Jun 26, 2009 via web

    Great list. Networking 101: LISTEN, don't talk!

    We tell all our clients how important reputation management is and have blogged about it ourselves:

  • by Matt Granfield Tue Aug 4, 2009 via web

    Great list of resources there - make sure you check out as well - an Australian tool that specialises in sentiment analysis.

  • by Chris C Wed Aug 12, 2009 via web

    Excellent list. Does anyone know of any tools that work as Social Media monitoring tools and act as an online clipping service to monitor competitor ads, ad copy and so forth?

  • by Erin Kistner- Kistner Group Sat Oct 31, 2009 via web

    Another great link-shrinker with tracking & metrics is .
    They offer a handy sidebar widget you can install making it very convenient to use.

    Erin Kistner

  • by Hugh Wed Nov 25, 2009 via web

    Biz360 and Hubspot are two others to check out. The latter is quite expensive and is much broader in scope than a listening tool. As for my personal opinion, if you want social media monitoring specifically, I've been most impressed by ScoutLabs and Radian6. Scout Labs has a nice streamlined user interface and sentiment analysis algorithm that adjusts to account for user feedback. Radian6 is among the most comprehensive with a slightly higher price point. Lastly, does not offer workspaces and exporting reports can be problematic, but for a free solution it is a good start with a rather impressive interface and useful metrics.

  • by Thesmallmighty Wed Jan 6, 2010 via web

    Great post thank you.
    I'm a consultant helping some large FMCG multi-nationals with their brand strategy. One of my clients' 'social media' agencies although very creative are charging them circa £30,000 for a basic audit of mapping (finding hubs) and snapshots of conversations and key influencers. I've seen the report and it looks mickey mouse and something that with Google Analytics and Technorati I think I could have done (and it's not my area of expertise) in a week. I've been asked 'are we being ripped off?' - can someone offer any advice on what mapping and analysis of real time conversations should cost?

  • by Hugh Wed Jan 6, 2010 via web

    £30,000 sounds a bit steep. We offer similar services for significantly less - about 1/2 less. Creativity does count for something but what concerns me is that the quality of their work does not seem to justify that sort of fee and it sounds like your gut is confirming that. Their fee should correspond to a measurable ROI that greatly exceeds the fee. If your client is looking to re-assess their options and needs some additional ROI justification, feel free to give them my information. I'd be happy to send along a proposal.


    Hugh Macken
    Managing Principal
    VMR Communications, LLC
    PO Box 956
    Marshfield, WI 54449-0956

    Phone: +1-715-502-9275

  • by Maria Ogneva Mon Feb 1, 2010 via web

    Clay, great review! Have you had a chance to use Community Insights from Biz360? Please let me know if you would like to try out a demo.

    Maria Ogneva
    Biz360, Director of Social Media
    @themaria @biz360
    mogneva (at) biz360 (dot) com

  • by Katinka Soto Lucy Fri Feb 12, 2010 via web

    Facebook Lexicon no longer exists. Page is taken down

  • by Dawson Fercho Wed Aug 25, 2010 via web

    True actionable market intelligence is about understanding the context of the customer conversation; Not listening for and mashing keywords against some derived verb list (as the current state of offering would have you believe). Just remember: Monitoring and even listening for trees does not give you an intelligent view of the forest.

    Here is something else to ponder regarding Context: "The man saw the boy with a telescope"

    Who has the telescope the man or the boy? Taken out of context the sentence can be interpreted either way and relating this conundrum back to brand monitoring will more often than not give you bad intelligence.

    Like many of the tools mentioned on this forum, keyword-based solutions, similarly perform tagging functions based on libraries of positive and negative generalized words.

    Those "one size fits all" libraries offer a low level of accuracy because there are—once again—too many variations on how a customer can express positive or negative emotions in a post to clearly comprehend true context and thus meaning. Many of the social-media monitoring services now available do little more than collect comments; carving-up and then producing output of ambigous buzz.

    Temetic Research ( utilizes advanced computational linguistics, heuristics (machine learning), and data mining, tracking over 20 human communication variables to understand true context and meaning of conversations. This empowers you with true awareness, influence, and preference metrics, leading our clients to the holy grail: understanding customer behavior driving towards purchase decisions.

    Think of Temetic as the Epidemiologists of the social media intelligence industry. Effective epidemiology requires finding patterns that lead to an overall response— even a cure — which is most certainly not based on finding one more sick person.

  • by Hugh Macken Wed Aug 25, 2010 via web

    @Dawson I'm quite impressed by what you've written and I really like the "cure" analogy. I'm curious as to the underlying data set for social media conversations. How much of the information "firehose" are you actually analyzing? All twitter conversations? How far back? Are you able to deliver actionable intelligence concerning the content of comments contained within multimedia sources such as youtube videos (i don't know of any technology out there that is able to do so)?
    We are looking to do a pilot project for a multinational brand and will most likely be using a combination of technologies including ScoutLabs to conduct our research. I'd be interested in knowing more about your solution to see how it might help us in a way that differs from what is offered by other technologies.
    i'm on twitter @hughmacken
    Thank you!

  • by Dawson Fercho Wed Aug 25, 2010 via web

    @hughmacken Thank you Hugh. I will reach out and we can speak in more detail but here are some answers to your questions 1) "firehose" - (A) All digital channels to include textual, pictorial, video and audible. (Q) "All Twitter..." (A) Given we deal in the fundamentals of semantics, I must ask for clarity around what you mean by "all"? Our research has illustrated there is no need for the expensive "Twitter Firehose" when the information is such a relatively small portion of the holistic customer conversational behemoth of data. We are able to utilize low-cost feeds attached to Twitter to build significance in our contextual construct when patterns emerge in that direction. There are many channels to awareness conveyance - Twitter is just a small part of it (regardless of what hubris-filled garble "Twitter Gurus" spout.) (Q) How far back... (A) Depends on the objective of the clients query. Retro-harvesting does not pose a hurdle to us. In fact one recent study for Big Agriculture spanned backwards 20 years.That was a very interesting engagement, one that we can speak about in more specificity later. I think it will intrigue you. (Q) Are you able to deliver.... (A) Yes, we cover video as well via our Temetic Engine.

  • by Chad Sat Sep 18, 2010 via web

    Hands-down Shoutlet [] is the best social media monitoring, engagement and measurement tool on the web. When used in combination with MailChimp, one of the best email marketing deployment systems, you are well on your way to building meaningful, trusting relationships with your customers.

    - Chad

    BTW I do not work for either of these organizations, just a satisfied user.

  • by Saul Fleischman Sat Jul 21, 2012 via web

    Great stuff, and may I suggest that anyone looking to hone in on conversations, curate content and/or topic-tag for reach needs to use the brand new social media tool, for brand monitoring, listening, topic smart-tagging, and content curation (with proper referencing of original content creators): RiteTag is a tool for finding the "rite" tags for many social networks based on your query. We also provide stats and examples of recent updates with each tag suggested, so people can learn about the types of content that tends to go with a tag.

    Some tools do tag illustration. Also, they do the job just with Twitter; already has 10 social neworks (with topic-tagging) integrated, and will expand to more than 20 - which people can search on simultaneously. RiteTag - to find the rite tags, per network (they vary per network) and learn about tags as well. Its not about SEO, but SSO: social sharing optimization: optimizing social media updates to be seen by those not following you by name, but following and searching for your tagged topics. And absolutely nothing out there does what does for this, not for one network, let alone the ten that we already have integrated.

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