The Top 21 Social Media Monitoring Tools for 2021

A seesaw with two orange balls balancing on one end of the seesaw. This image symbolizes the process that a marketing team may go through when weighing their different options when it comes to social media monitoring platforms.
A seesaw with two orange balls balancing on one end of the seesaw. This image symbolizes the process that a marketing team may go through when weighing their different options when it comes to social media monitoring platforms.

A social media monitoring tool isn’t just a nice-to-have, it’s a PR and marketing must. But if you’re not using the right one, or you’re not using one at all — you’re missing an opportunity to drive more leads, increase revenue and protect your brand profile.

If, for example, you want to: 

  • maximise marketing campaign ROI, 
  • offer customer service that outclasses your competitors,
  • connect with influential figures who’ll generate more leads, or 
  • avoid a PR disaster and save your reputation. 

Then, choosing the right technologies for your business should be at the top of your to-do list. A great monitoring tool won’t just make your community managers’ lives easier in terms of strategising and creating content, it’ll also give you the insights you need to lead C-suite discussions on where the business goes next.

Take Warren Talbot, Marketing Manager at Vans. He told us “social media is sometimes perceived as a very new sphere for upper management, and getting sign-off without hard facts, data and ROI is a significant challenge” but it's one that could be addressed with the right technology.

Turning to the right tool wasn’t just a strategy to make handling day-to-day social media simpler, it was a way to “justify strategic business decisions” for Talbot. Let's take a look at how you too can leverage a social media monitoring tool to make more informed decisions.

Table of Contents

What's the difference between social monitoring and listening?

You’ll hear people talking about social media listening tools when they mean monitoring tools, and vice versa, but technically they are different things. The key distinction lies in how close you are to the action: think zoomed-in vs. zoomed-out.

Social media monitoring means dealing with the day-to-day of managing your platform feeds and reacting accordingly. It’s liking a comment on Instagram, getting into a conversation on Facebook, or replying to a tweet. It's responding to queries, compliments, and complaints.

Social media listening shows you the bigger picture. If you have all those likes, comments and posts gathered into graphs and categories, you’ll see patterns at play. You can then make decisions based on your understanding of what your customers or competitors are doing, within the context of industry changes.

Most importantly, you can note trends, find new opportunities and pre-empt a social crisis before it happens by listening to the digital world around you and seeking out information. Now, let’s take a look at some of the reasons why marketers and PRs at successful companies take both approaches.

What are the benefits of monitoring and listening to social media?

There are numerous benefits to monitoring your social media profiles and listening to specific conversations happening online. If you are a fellow nerd who has enjoyed playing D&D growing up, think about paying attention to brand activity online as a part of your suit of armor. Listening is both your sword and your shield — whether you’re managing an enterprise or an SME business, it can protect and promote your brand simultaneously — with a combination of human and technological input. 

Okay, enough geek-speak. Here are the top benefits:

  1. Connect with the most valuable members of your market
  2. Roll out best-in-class customer service
  3. Predict, measure, and maximise the ROI of marketing campaigns
  4. Stay one step ahead of competitors
  5. Predict and capitalise on new market trends
  6. Protect brand reputation in a PR crisis

Should I use a tool or do it manually?

In the fast-paced world of digital, you’re better off using an automation tool for a social media search than trying to handle tasks manually. The latter can quickly become unreliable, so you’re likely to miss important conversations. It also wastes time that you could dedicate more usefully to other projects.

If you're interested in seeing how much time a social media monitoring tool could save you, get in touch.

A visualization of a social media dashboard from Meltwater Display that shows you the types of insights you can collect through social listening (who is influencing the conversation, where the conversations are taking place, what the sentiment of the conversation is, etc.).

Instead of flicking distractedly between platforms, delegate monitoring to a tool and put your time and effort into more important activities. The best tools can track, aggregate, and analyse editorial media, tweets, posts, and conversations for you — 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, whether you’re in the UK, South Africa, Ireland, or India

Now, to understand choosing the right social media tracker. Use this list as a guideline to find out which of these solutions best suits your team.

The top social media monitoring tools for 2021

  1. Meltwater

  2. Sprout Social

  3. Hootsuite

  4. Cyfe

  5. Talkwalker

  6. Digimind Social

  7. Brand24

  8. Agorapulse

  9. Synthesio

  10. TweetDeck

  11. Mention

  12. Awario

  13. Buffer Analyze

  14. Keyhole

  15. Socialbakers

  16. Sendible

  17. Falcon.io

  18. BuzzSumo

  19. YouScan

  20. Zoho Social

  21. Sprinklr Modern Engagement

    

Meltwater

Meltwater is the Swiss Army knife of media monitoring tools, with social media management, audience insights, social listening, sentiment analysis, and influencer management — all housed in one easy-to-use interface. 

Trusted by over 30,000 clients worldwide, and ranked as the #1 media intelligence platform by G2, it’s a sophisticated option, ideal for everyone from enterprise teams to SMEs.

Meltwater Engage dashboard for social media monitoring tool

The platform offers intuitive, highly customisable monitoring dashboards, where you can track conversations in real-time, pinpoint developments in community sentiment, and capitalise on the most valuable mentions. 

This platform covers networks like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter (the whole tweet archive, not just a 10% sampling) but it also tracks Pinterest, YouTube, message boards and forums like Reddit and Quora, and over 300 million blogs. 

Meltwater Engage reporting for social media monitoring tool graph

And, while some tools and apps put a cap on how many mentions, Boolean key phrases, influencers, or competitors you can monitor, with Meltwater, you get unlimited searches to filter a mammoth data pool of 200 billion conversations — across the globe.

Once you’ve compiled the most relevant searches, you can turn them into drilled-down reports to help you refine and improve your KPIs, or convert them to easy-to-understand visuals to present to the C-suite.

In short, Meltwater is a social media analytics powerhouse. Backed up by a 24/7, multi-language service team. It’ll quickly prove ROI for those who master its far-reaching functionality. 

Sprout Social

While Sprout is primarily a social media management tool for SMEs to handle day-to-day content publishing, it offers media monitoring functionality too.

With the Smart Inbox sitting at the heart of the monitoring dashboard, you can bring messages, mentions, and tags from core channels into one central hub, instead of switching between networks to track notifications. Set up inbox filtering and tagging options to help you prioritise interactions, and save time to focus on the most valuable opportunities online.

Image of Sprout Social dashboard for social media monitoring tool

You can also track the most important conversations by setting up Sprout keyword searches to watch for brand and product mentions. Sprout's ‘Trend Reports’ provide insights on Twitter performance (not any other core social media networks), showing where your efforts are working, and offer a breakdown by the most common hashtags, trending topics, and popular public figures.

Hootsuite

Hootsuite’s monitoring solution lives on an easy-to-use dashboard in its social media management platform. Hootsuite is best known for scheduling and Streams — a centralised feed of all your brand’s mentions, comments, and tags across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube. This makes it easy to filter, reply to or ‘like’ conversations, and assign items to colleagues who are best placed to respond.

Screenshot of Hootsuite dashboard analytics for social media monitoring

Hootsuite's Inbox is similar to Streams in that it collates all your social inboxes into one feed, so you can monitor and respond to messages without jumping between channels or chasing email alerts. As a paid add-on, you can also set up saved replies to reuse and edit for frequently asked questions.

Image of Hootsuite Streams dashboard for social media monitoring showing social feeds

It’s an option for brands with medium levels of activity online. They also offer a more advanced listening tool, Hootsuite Insights, where you can drill down into audience trends and segments in real-time, benchmark brand health against competitors, and track conversations across blogs, forums, and message boards.

Cyfe

Cyfe offers you the chance to centralise insights from your media activity (as well as site data, sales journeys, marketing spend, and customer support) into widget-filled dashboards. The emphasis is on visualisation over interaction, so if you need something with both monitoring and interaction functionality instead, you’d do better with a tool like Meltwater or Hootsuite.

Cyfe social media analytics dashboard for social media monitoring tool

That said, it’s very easy to get started: to track the core platforms for mentions, keywords, and likes. You can either use one of their pre-built dashboards or customise your own from multiple display widgets. 

Cyfe's social media analytics dashboard for social media monitoring

The tool will then pull real-time data on your (or your competitors’) social media activity into the dashboard for you to monitor live or export as a report. To get notified of a spike in mentions or engagement — perhaps to capitalise on influence or remedy a mistake — you can also set up instant email and SMS alerts.

It’s a simple but reliable dashboard, best suited for SMEs or agencies who need a consolidated overview of their online activity or that of their clients. 

Talkwalker

Talkwalker is an advanced monitoring and insights tool aimed at large agencies and global brands who want insights on consumer sentiment, relationships with public figures, competitor benchmarking, and reputation management. 

Talkwalker social media analytics for social media monitoring dashboard with graph

Companies with high levels of activity across multiple regions can monitor written content on digital and offline media in 187 languages — and if you upgrade to the Enterprise package, you can track images and logos too. 

Depending on your package, you can gather data from over 150 million websites and 20+ social channels. And, the entry-level package offers a year of retrospective data — which extends to 2 years in the full subscription. 

Talkwalker social media analytics for social media monitoring line graph

Use ready-made dashboards to monitor brand health, understand audience insights, analyse campaigns, or build custom dashboards to track tailored topics and keywords. The Talkwalker analytics dashboard breaks down social activity into the core metrics, i.e., mentions, sentiment, hashtags, engagement.

But if you’re after a comprehensive media reporting tool that also has scheduling and publishing packed in as well, you might want to look at Meltwater.

Digimind Social

Digimind is a tool best suited for understanding brand reputation and less so for holistic social media tracking.

Digimind social media sentiment analysis for social media monitoring table graph

You can use the platform to trawl for brand mentions and gather insights on reader sentiment from your main networks, as well as millions of publications.

If you’re looking for a platform to help you publish content and manage conversations with your audience, this won’t be on your list. But if you’re after a tool that specialises in unearthing insights on what they feel about your brand, competitors and industry, Digimind could be what you’re after.

Brand24

The Brand24 analytics & reporting tool gives Sprout a run for its money and is best suited for medium-size brands. With an emphasis on day-to-day media monitoring, you’re more likely to use Brand24 for middleweight analysis and reporting, but less so if you need to extract high-level insights.

The Brand24 influencer dashboard for social media monitoring

Through the tool, you can track brand mentions and run keyword searches across your core channels, as well as blogs, news sites, and visual platforms like Instagram and YouTube. Additionally, you can use the Mentions and Analysis dashboards to understand the sentiment and the activity of public figures online. You can then export your analysis into templates, custom reports, or visualisations including graphs and word clouds.

The Brand24 monitoring dashboard for social media showing line graphs and score graphs

The Brand24 social listening functions are solid — but to get deeper insights on ROI and social metrics, you’ll want to look to a more advanced tool

Agorapulse

Agorapulse is a 2-for-1 tool: a management platform supplemented by social listening functionality.

Agorapulse inbox for social monitoring tool shown on mobile and desktop screens

You get an easy-to-use monitoring inbox called Social Inbox (echoing Sprout Social’s Smart Inbox) that brings all your brand’s social comments, mentions, and conversations into one feed for easy responding. There’s also a comprehensive influencer outreach dashboard and an integrated CRM.

Alongside the tool’s reliable publishing and scheduling features, you can measure and improve the ROI of your content strategy thanks to ready-made, easy-to-export reports. 

Synthesio

Synthesio is a strong contender for enterprise or global brands on the hunt for a reporting tool. With multiple interactive dashboards, you can use Synthesio for audience monitoring, advanced data reporting, and to extract key business insights.

The Synthesio social analytics dashboard for social media monitoring tool showing various graphs and metrics

Once you’ve set the interface up yourself or used a template, the main social listening dashboard is built around a Listen feed and an Analyse display, with filters available for breaking down data by time period, region, and (up to) 20 languages.

Synthesio reporting analytics for social media monitoring tool showing colourful graphs

Like the Meltwater tool, Synthesio covers a full gamut of media sources alongside news, blogs, and forums, for which you can build search queries based on Boolean-phrase keywords, your brand name, or centered around specific platforms.

Synthesio brings out key metrics to help you prove your wins, including a heavy emphasis on KPIs. With a section dedicated solely to ROI, you can show how share of voice, reach, or customer sentiment gains are justifying your marketing efforts.

TweetDeck

TweetDeck is Twitter’s media monitoring dashboard. If the other channels aren’t relevant to your marketing or PR strategy, TweetDeck is a simple monitoring tool for tracking and responding to Twitter mentions and conversations. 

Twitter's Tweetdeck dashboard for social media monitoring showing Twitter feeds

It offers a series of streams (similar to Hootsuite), which allow you to track direct mentions, inbox messages, and real-time tweet searches in parallel feeds. So, if you set up searches for your brand and common misspellings alongside competitor names, you or your team will see conversations fed live into the dashboard and be able to respond quickly.

It’s free and very straightforward — ideal for the social media manager of a public figure or a startup only interested in Twitter activity.

Mention

Mention is a streamlined and easy-to-use tool with reliable analytics, a reach across platforms, and a level of simplicity best aligned with social listening for small-to-medium brands

Mention's dashboard for social listening showing feeds and an action panel on the left

If you want to keep tabs on brand mentions, run simple real-time searches for competitors and public figures (e.g., filtered by channel, language, and date), and get daily alerts for brand mentions across the past 24 hours, Mention could be the tool for you. 

You can also set up their Pulse alerts to get notified of a recent spike in mentions — crucial for making the most of a boost in reader sentiment or managing the fall-out of a PR slip. 

Awario

With Starter, Pro, and Enterprise benefits, Awario is a flexible tool you can scale as your business grows. It tracks the usual suspects and will alert you to mentions, competitors, top influencer-based interactions, and changes in the way consumers perceive your brand. 

Awario's dashboard for social media monitoring showing two media panels and an action panel on the left

It can also help you grow brand engagement by responding to conversations quickly, cutting through social noise to find audience insights, and improving marketing campaigns with detailed consumer intelligence. Furthermore, you can rely on the tool’s search function to find even the most niche conversation data.

Buffer Analyze

You probably know Buffer for its publishing platform, but they also offer a strong entry-level contender in the monitoring and analytics space. 

Buffer analytics dashboard for social media monitoring tool showing a line graph and popup

You can use the Buffer Analyse dashboard to measure media impact across platforms, export detailed reports on relevant KPIs and inform your strategy with insights on what’s working well. Data is broken down by typical metrics — including comments, mentions, retweets, likes, and shares. 

As a mid-weight tool, the platform doesn’t offer in-depth details on target market demographics, but it will suit marketers who’ve realised it’s time to make more of their social data.

Keyhole

Keyhole is a media monitoring and reporting tool, best for tracking campaign impact, managing influencer partnerships, and keeping tabs on conversations. Their user-friendly dashboards come with an easy learning curve so you can quickly start measuring customer sentiment, evaluating opportunities among your audiences, and benchmarking against competitors.

Keyhole analytics dashboard for social media monitoring with blue graphs

The platform also offers real-time influencer-related, hashtag, and keyword searches across communities. 

A Keyhole highlight is its visualisation function: which allows you to convert activity into heat maps, charts, and word clouds that you can display as is, or export into company presentations.

Socialbakers

Socialbakers competes with tools like Sprout and Hootsuite when it comes to social publishing, but if you’re after more sophisticated monitoring, opt for the likes of Meltwater, Synthesio, or Talkwalker. 

Socialbakers monitoring dashboard for social media monitoring showing 4 media streams

Socialbakers covers the spectrum of day-to-day media monitoring and interaction to media listening. The listening function sits beside content research and planning, media management, and influencer discovery, as well as analytics and reporting functionality.

You can choose from a variety of metrics and widgets to design your dashboard. Also, under the Analytics tab, you can run top-level analyses — for instance, you can extract insights on evolving trends by tracking comparisons between competitors, industries, and countries — as well as more in-depth analyses thanks to AI suggestions.

Once you’ve gathered insights, you can export reports with graphs, charts, or tables, share campaign results and prove campaign ROI.

Sendible

Sendible is a comprehensive media management tool with scheduling, monitoring, and consumer insights available on one platform. Designed for marketers who want to handle several brands at once, it can be ideal for agencies — but could also be suitable for SMEs that want a solid solution for publishing, social monitoring, and reporting.

Sendible monitoring dashboard for social media monitoring showing graphs and media

The listening and reporting functions are thorough and cover all the main platforms. Like Hootsuite, you can assign items and conversations to the most relevant member of your team to speed up response times.

Sendible Stream dashboard for social media monitoring showing media, actions and insights

Sendible’s monitoring dashboard is intuitive, and its Reports offering is easy to run and makes insights straightforward — you’ll get exportable data on mentions, sentiment, public figures, and more. 

But if you need granular insights into demographics, for example, or competitor benchmarking, you’re better off with more comprehensive insights tools like Meltwater, Talkwalker, or Synthesio.

Falcon.io

Falcon.io is an uncomplicated media management package with a listening and analytics dashboard, as well as scheduling, publishing, and inbox functions. Like Sendible, it’s an ideal tool for agencies to handle multiple brands concurrently or for SMEs that can afford bigger spends.

Falcon analytics dashboard for social media monitoring with grid-based graphs and an action panel.

Falcon’s analytics dashboard displays helpful breakdowns of posts so you can understand reactions, connect with consumers, and benchmark industry performance. The dashboards could be more intuitive, but once you’ve learned the ropes, you can start tracking mentions, run influencer research and get share-of-voice metrics across the major social media channels and media sources. 

BuzzSumo

The BuzzSumo platform comprises 4 overarching pillars: discovery, research, influencers, and monitoring.  

The Discovery dashboard shows you the best-performing content from your team and your competitors to help you build stronger communities. In the Monitoring dashboard, you can monitor real-time brand mentions, market trends, and social activity relating to competitors.

BuzzSumo analytics for social media monitoring in blue hues.

The core analytics and listening functions sit in the Research dashboard where you can run keyword, influencer, user, and Boolean phrase searches across an index of 5 billion items. Compare the results of new campaigns against old ones (with up to 5 years of historical content performance data) or track trends to capitalise on new market opportunities.

YouScan

YouScan stands out as an image-first tool. In addition to capturing written brand mentions, it turns visual data including logos, backgrounds, and people in posts on social media, blogs, news, and forums into ‘visual insights’. 

YouScan image analysis with green Heineken bottle on a surfboard at the beach

If your product appears in a tweet image, for example, the tool will spot your brand and extract real-life, contextual insights about your products and customers — who they are, where they are, what they’re doing — so you get a deeper understanding of your market.

It’s also ideal for measuring sponsorship ROI, finding more user-generated content, and connecting with the most valuable brand ambassadors. YouScan processes millions of visual mentions every day, integrates with your CRM for easy team collaboration, and comes with an AI-powered assistant, called Aina, who can alert you to positive insights and negative conversations.

Zoho Social

Zoho Social offers a user-friendly platform for social media management, monitoring, and analytics. 

For monitoring and listening, you’ll want to head to the Monitor section and set up monitoring streams. Zoho’s streams are reliably customisable and you can add columns for Twitter interactions, specific public figures, or conversations with particular leads. 

Zoho monitoring dashboard for social media monitoring showing 4 feeds

Zoho makes media monitoring a cross-team experience, thanks to integrations with its Customer Relationship Management (CRM) system. Every dashboard from Monitor to Posts and Reports has an “Add to CRM” option, so if you’re already using Zoho's CRM, it’s simple to start using the Zoho Social tool. 

Zoho Facebook analytics for social media monitoring showing info bubbles

It might not be as sophisticated as the likes of Meltwater, but it does come with high-level listening tools and reporting that will easily satisfy small businesses.

Sprinklr Modern Engagement

Sprinklr’s monitoring and listening tool comes as part of its broader customer intelligence package and is aimed at enterprise brands. It covers 25 social networks — as well as message boards and Asian networks like Weibo and WeChat.

Sprinklr feed dashboard for social media monitoring showing 3 feeds

Template and custom reports dashboards offer comprehensive analytics for campaigns and viewer demographics. It also comes with far-reaching drill-down functionality and a growing list of visual widgets that make it easy to understand your data and measure your social media impact.

2021 is the time to level up your social media monitoring

With a rise in digital communication and brands furiously competing to garner consumer attention on the internet, media monitoring has become an important facet of modern research, marketing, and PR. 

However, it’s a pointless exercise without the right social listening tools to help you distill information and gain useful functionality, relative to the size of your business and the scope of your work.  

Whether you’re in Silicon Valley, Scotland, or Singapore, there are useful tools to aid you in managing mentions, pre-empting a crisis, and collaboratively keeping tabs on your brand and competitors. 

If you’re curious to hear why over 30,000 companies worldwide trust us to help with their media monitoring, get in touch with Meltwater

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