You already know that your business should not only have social presence. You must also practice social listening and monitoring to discover user sentiment about your brand and industry.

But doing so is easier said than done.

Case in point:

Twitters users send out 6,000 tweets every second, or around 500 million tweets daily.

On Facebook, people upload 136,000 photos, post 510,000 comments, and publish 293,000 status updates every minute.

Keeping up with the sheer number of content and conversations on social media as well as the speed at which they come and go is impossible…unless you have a tool to help you filter the noise and focus on what matters.

Social media listening suites do just that. And in this post, we will look into monitoring and listening tools tailor-made for small business owners.

Hootsuite – A Well-Rounded Social Listening Tool

Hootsuite is one of the more popular and loved social media management tools online – and for a long list of reasons.

For starters, Hootsuite’s Swiss army knife of tools and functionalities is complete and well-developed, allowing small business owners to manage their social accounts, identify influencers, analyze data, and engage with audiences from an intuitive dashboard.

And lest we forget:

The price is manageable even for owners with a tight budget.

Setting up the dashboard for effective social media listening is a simple three-step process:

  • Identify the keywords and topics you want to monitor
  • Create a stream containing the terms you picked
  • Monitor the newly created streams for insights and opportunities

The list of streams you can create in Hootsuite is also comprehensive.

For example:

If you’re setting up a stream for a Twitter account, you can add tweets on your feed, mentions of your handle, direct messages, and plenty more. You can also monitor a certain search string and even append your location to capture local results only.

Want to set up a private Twitter list full of influencers?

Doing so is an excellent way to see what experts in your industry are talking about, and Hootsuite gets you up and running in a few clicks.

Hootsuite also has stream set-up options for Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and other social networks, making the tool an excellent choice if your audience and prospects are all over the internet.

Sprout Social

First things first:

Sprout Social isn’t the most affordable social media management suite in the planet. They don’t offer a free account and their lowest priced premium plan will set you back $99 per month per user, which can get expensive if you have a team.

On the other hand…

Many users swear by Sprout Social and the team behind it.

From a social media monitoring and listening standpoint, Sprout Social has all of the features small businesses and even large enterprises need to up their game.

The tool lets you build basic and advanced queries for monitoring in a cinch even if syntaxes and rules logic sound Greek to you. You can also refine those queries so you get laser-targeted results.

The listener dashboards allows users to carry out real-time and continuous analysis of keywords, topics, hashtags, brands, and industries. Moreover, the engagement metrics and data visualization that comes after the analysis gives you actionable insights.

But most important…

You get to know the emotion behind the retweets, shares, and replies. The contextual and sentiment analysis lets you get a “pulse” on how users feel when talking about your brand, hashtags, related topics, and industry keywords.

Unlike other social media listening tools, however, Sprout Social takes a single view for your information streams instead of the usual columns.

Sprout Social uses the Smart Inbox to bring all of your messages from Twitter, Facebook, Google+, and Instagram into a single stream.

For better organization, the Smart Inbox lets you filter messages by profile, message type, keywords, and date, and you can also add custom tags if you so desire.

If you’re accustomed to working with multiple tabs and streams, using the Smart Inbox may feel awkward at first. But plenty of Sprout Social clients found the unified messaging approach helped them boost their productivity and time management.

Social Mention

Not every small business owners has the capacity to fork out $50 to $100/month for social media listening. If you are on the same boat, worry not as you can find free tools that can carry out basic monitoring tasks.

Social Mention is one such tool.

As you may have guessed based on the name, the online service lets you keep an eye on mentions of your business name, branded hashtags, social media handles, and industry keywords.

Furthermore, Social Mention not only monitors the popular social networks on the block like Facebook, Twitter, and Youtube. But it also looks into blogs, microblogs, Q&A sites, and other places online where people gather.

Now, Social Mention doesn’t just give you a list of mentions. While it lacks the cutting-edge metrics-tracking and analytics that paid options provide, it gives you a scorecards for the search term so you can gauge how you’re doing in social:

  • Strength: The likelihood of people talking about your brand in social media. The tool measures strength by taking the total number of mentions in the past 24 hours divided by the total number of possible mentions
  • Sentiment: The ratio of positive mentions versus negative mentions. The scorecard indicates whether most of your mentions are from happy, angry, or neutral users
  • Reach: Measures the range of influence by taking the number of authors mentioning, say, a hashtag or handle and dividing it by the total number of mentions
  • Passion: Measures the likelihood of individual users who are talking about your brand now will continue to do so

As you can see, the algorithms and formulas used to calculate your scores are not foolproof. Nevertheless, these scorecards can help you get a bird’s eye view of your performance in social media and which parts of your campaign may need more attention.

Keyhole

Keyhole is a social media analytics and monitoring tool for Twitter and Instagram.

The monthly price tag is steep at $149. But Keyhole provides a sample of data for free (up to a week in Twitter), making the tool valuable so long as you use it often.

Not to mention you can use the tool without logging in and connecting your social media accounts.

Keyhole gives you the usual metrics like posts, reach, and impressions, while also providing in-depth analysis and showing demographics, shares, and location of users. It also has an advanced influencer filtering table, handy for your influencer marketing campaigns.

One feature many users love about Keyhole is the ability to check which relevant hashtags are trending at the moment. The feature is especially useful when you’re about to post.

If you are on platforms that don’t keep posts current for a long time (such as Twitter and Instagram), Keyhole can help you keep up with conversations about your brand and stay in the loop for trending topics – even if you’re not tapped into a news outlet.