It’s become increasingly important to use social media analytics to gain insights that help improve the performance of your strategies. These analytics allow you to optimize the ROI of your social media campaigns, manage them effectively, and monitor their performance over time. Yet, the tools natively available on some platforms fail to deliver sufficient data for effective decision-making. That’s why many companies turn to social media analytics software to fill in the gaps so they improve their market performance. Today, I’d like to share a list of social media analytics software tools curated with the help of a group of social media specialists to help you determine which tools make sense for your business. Consider what fits in your budget as well as the insights provided by the software. Feel free to access the list on List.ly (viewed nearly 6000 views) and add to it or vote for your favorites.
As part of my abiding interest in social media analytics (more broadly digital analytics), as well as wishing to provide the best analytics for my clients, I’ve tested or demoed a number of social media analytics tools. Some are free or have a nominal price, others are VERY pricy solutions. Some are easy to implement and others take a significant effort to use. For instance, the IBM social media analytics software is a very expensive tool with output that might not be interpretable by novices as it requires extensive knowledge. Other software options are less expensive but don’t create a clear picture of how your strategy is working out.
Another note to consider is that this market isn’t static. Some of the tools listed are no longer available while others have been subsumed within another product. For instance, Radian 6 is now part of Salesforce.
What do you need from your social media analytics software?
In working with clients (as well as managing my own social media marketing campaigns) there are 3 things I want my social media analytics software to do:
- Determine what’s working and what isn’t — do certain types of posts work best on certain platforms, what time works best for posting in each platform, which headlines work best, how do folks move through my website when I add a new landing page?????????
- How are folks moving through my conversion funnel? What problems do they encounter? Who are the folks who stop partway through the funnel?
- Who are my prospects and what do they think about me? What’s important to them? Who influences them? Where do they hang out? This includes sentiment analysis.
What your social media analytics software does for you
And, that’s another way these social media analytics solutions differ. Some are really good at answering 1 of my questions, for instance, sentiment analysis tools are really great at answering type 3 questions and Google Analytics is really good at answering Type 1 and Type 2 questions, but don’t do a thing to answer other questions. Some do a little to answer all 3 types of questions but don’t do a great job with any. Below, is a report created using Google Analytics (GA4) containing information considered important to most marketers.
If you’re an enterprise-level firm, maybe it doesn’t matter that you have to use several social media analytics tools — you can afford the cost and you have different folks working on different aspects of your social media marketing anyway, so each would only need answers to certain types of questions.
But, if you’re a small or mid-sized firm, like me, you can’t afford the time and expense involved in using multiple solutions. The best solution I’ve devised is combining free and paid solutions and bringing them together on a dashboard — like IBM’s Cognos, which is easy to use and relatively inexpensive.
What to measure
A critical question before we jump into a discussion of social media analytics software, we need to discuss what you should measure to evaluate the success of your social media (or more broadly digital) campaigns. That ensures you don’t spend time and money on software that doesn’t provide the kind of insights you need and that you don’t have holes in your data that prevent you from developing valuable insights.
First, let’s talk about the conversion process since that’s the end goal of your marketing campaigns.
Note that conversion doesn’t just happen. It’s the result of gently leading prospective buyers from awareness through their first purchase and beyond to becoming an advocate to others and repeat buyers over time. You need social media analytics software capable of assessing each stage in this funnel and the multiple processes involved in moving consumers to the next stage.
One thing I like about this version of the conversion (or sales) funnel is that it lists activities to help you move to the next stage of the funnel. From this, we can develop a list of KPIs (key performance indicators), those metrics tied to your end goal.
- Awareness: Current and potential audience
- Engagement: How audiences are interacting with your content
- Conversion: Effectiveness of your social engagement
- Consumer: How active customers think and feel about your brand
- Competitive analysis: Analyzing competitors’ social media content, engagement metrics, and other data
- Influencer analytics: Measuring the success of using social media influencers to increase reach
- Sentiment analysis: Measuring the tone and intent of social media comments
- Audience analytics: Gathering and analyzing marketing and audience data
- Paid social analytics: Ensuring high-level performance of social media campaigns
Do you need to assess all these aspects of social media analytics? Maybe, maybe not. That depends on your budget, expertise, and market. However, don’t get sidetracked by the allure of vanity metrics — those metrics that aren’t tied to your bottom line. For example, follower counts don’t have much meaning when it comes to generating success. Sure, it feels good to have a lot of followers but it’s more important to have an engaged following (those followers who take the time to comment, like, or share your content). That said, monitoring your follower count over time does have some meaning as it shows you are reaching more social media users and they find value in the content you share.
Before making any decisions about social media analytics software, make a list of metrics you think will help you make better decisions and improve your market performance.
40 social media analytics software
So, here’s my list in order of popularity by viewers of the top social media analytics software tools. I’ve curated this list on Listly and you can add to the list as you wish by either adding new software tools or voting up the tools I’ve listed so they have a meaningful order. Enjoy.
Now, I don’t necessarily agree with the items on the list or their rank based on votes by my community, so I encourage you to amend the list to make it more useful for everyone. Below, I’ll present some aspects of the social media analytics software I’ve used that I feel fulfills a need for most marketing professionals.
Hubspot is a good tool because it integrates across several digital marketing tactics including CRM (customer relationship management), content marketing, email marketing, and conversion tracking. It offers a free version with some serious limitations or a low-cost version that’s $18/month with enhanced limits. The company offers more features and benefits with higher pricing for larger companies and enterprise firms. Some plans even allow users to accept payments.
In terms of analytics, Hubspot offers insights through a dashboard like the one below.
Sprout Social is a good choice for managing performance insights across multiple platforms, as you can see below. Pricing starts at $249/month with several other pricing tiers. They do offer a free trial to test out the software before buying.
Social Bakers is now Emplifi
Emplifi Social allows you to simplify the customer’s journey, and do it all from one intuitive workspace — including social media content creation, publishing, analytics, UGC, influencer marketing, community management, social care, and more.
The tool is integrated with ChatGPT to help with content creation. In terms of analytics, Emplifi Unified Analytics helps you monitor your reputation, track competitors’ performance, view trending topics, and keep track of consumer attitudes. It also helps you manage conversations on social platforms so you can respond to users quickly.
Radian 6 is now a Salesforce company
Marketing Cloud Intelligence now includes most of the original features of Radian 6, which the company purchased in 2011. The tool offers data visualizations to help speed insights and suggestions optimizations to improve performance based on data from a variety of sources. This tool tops the price range at $108,000 per year. Adding Tableau to improve visualizations and insights or lead nurturing software substantially increases the price.
Prices start at $249 a month.
quintly offers 500 metrics across multiple social media platforms and brings them all into a unified dashboard. The pricing is based on the number of platforms and users you need to operationalize your social media analytics.
Brandwatch is one of the few companies in the social media analytics software space that’s been around for a long time but continues to get better.
Brandwatch helps you create content that resonates by using AI and gathering consumer opinions from across the internet to find trends before they’re available to others. You can monitor performance on most of the major social media platforms to make better decisions and respond to problems before they arise. Like Radian 6, Brandwatch is an enterprise software with lots of features and power but that comes at a pretty high cost.
So, you have some options when it comes to social media analytics software. I’ve tried to provide some features/ benefits of some of the major pieces of software that are still out there and the new software that isn’t already on the list. Over the next few weeks, I’ll work on updating the list to reflect changes in this market. I encourage you to also review the list and help make it more valuable by culling out software that’s no longer on the market and adding new software you found that’s valuable.
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