Free vs Paid Social Listening Tools: Understand the Key Differences

Free vs Paid Social Listening Tools: Understand the Key Differences

In the fast-paced world of social media, monitoring and analyzing online conversations about your brand or industry is essential. 

Social listening tools are the go-to solution for businesses to track and analyze social media mentions, trends, and sentiment. However, choosing the right social listening tool can be daunting, especially when free and paid options are available. 

This blog will help you to explore the key differences between free and paid social listening tools to assist you in making the right decision based on your business needs and budget. 

We’ll take a closer look at each tool’s features, limitations, and benefits to help you choose the right social listening solution for your business. So, let’s dive in and discover the key differences between free and paid social listening tools.

Social listening tools – Overview

We understand that you are here to know the difference between free and paid social listening tools. But we want to clear up all your confusion about the social listening tool. That is why learning the basics of social listening tools is essential.

Social listening is monitoring social media channels that mention your brand, competitors, and related keywords. It is the process of identifying and evaluating what is being discussed on the internet about a company, individual, product, or brand.

This will provide valuable information about how customers feel about your products or services, their pain points, and what they would like to see from you in the future. 

This intelligence can notify everything from marketing and product strategy to customer service and support, allowing you to make more informed, data-driven decisions that will benefit your company’s bottom line.

We hope that you have understood the basic meaning of social listening tools. If you still need clarification about whether to use these tools for your business, you must read the next section to know what you can achieve with social listening tools.

Also read- How Can Social Listening Improve the Customer Experience?

Benefits of using social listening tools

Social listening tools have become indispensable to every business’s social media strategy. With numerous people using social media platforms like Facebook daily, it’s crucial to stay on top of what people are saying about your brand, industry, and competitors. Below are the top benefits of using social listening tools:

1. Improved customer service

The first benefit of utilizing the social listening tool is that it can help you improve your services. People now use the Internet to vent about bad experiences with products and services. Furthermore, they seek solutions to problems and applaud brands for providing excellent service.

Most people use the internet to share their poor experiences with a brand or product. They simply tweet the problem they are facing with the brand instead of calling the call center. 

The software collects a question or complaint about your brand as soon as it is posted on social media, so that your customer service team can handle any issues as soon as possible.

Also read- What’re The Benefits of Content Management Workflows?

2. Crisis management 

A crisis can come at any time in any field. Crisis management can be a daunting task without perfect planning. 

Social listening tools can help you manage business crises effectively. You can track sentiment in real-time with social listening, so you’ll know instantly if there’s a significant change in how often people talk about you or the intent behind what they say.

This tracking warns about a positive or negative change in your brand identity in your customers’ minds. If sentiment is low, examine social feedback to pinpoint the root cause. This can assist you in dealing with public relations disasters before they get out of control.

3. Build a relationship

Social listening tools can also help you build a relationship with your potential customer through social media interaction. Indeed, random interactions with a random person are a great way to build a relationship. 

Most people love the way you offer help to solve their problems. But a majority of people hate this kind of conversation. The social listening tool can help you determine whom you should help.

Social listening can help you find questions and discussions about your industry on social media platforms, but you shouldn’t use it as a pretext to start pitching immediately. 

Instead, consider the conversation you enter through social listening as a chance to build connections with potential clients in your industry that you can nurture into relationships for social selling.

4. Identify influencer

Social media influencer marketing has become a great way to promote your product or service. Social media influencers are the top social media users, with millions or billions of followers who blindly trust their recommendations. 

Naturally, it’s best to collaborate with influencers who genuinely care about your business or its value proposition. But how do you find them because there are several social media influencers? 

Potential influencers are the top profiles talking about your brand. Some of them may have amassed sizable fan bases. Using the social listening tool, you can find influencers who would be a good fit to work with your brand.

5. Protect your brand reputation

Several users get paid to spoil your brand’s reputation. For instance, brandjacking occurs when someone intentionally misuses a brand online. If not detected early on, this can cause significant damage to your reputation. 

These virtual imposters are free to post whatever they want to harm your business and make you look bad in front of your customers. Social listening tools can help you identify these types of profiles on social media.

We hope that you understand what you can achieve with social listening tools. It’s high time to dive into the section on the difference between paid and free social listening tools.

Major difference between free and paid social listening tools

Social media has become a vital aspect of business, and it’s crucial to keep track of what people are saying about your brand or industry on social media. 

Social listening tools are the perfect solution to help businesses monitor and analyze online conversations. 

But with numerous options available, it can be challenging to determine whether a free or paid social listening tool is the right choice for your business. 

The following factors will help you to know the difference between both tools-

1. Data access

The first difference between free and paid social listening tools is data access. 

The free social listening tool will have access to shorter social media data than the paid social listening tools. 

They can analyze and monitor shorter data on social media platforms. They can let you search for Twitter conversion and mention the small data range. 

On the other hand, paid social listening tools have access to a larger data range. These paid tools can analyze and monitor larger data sets on social media platforms. 

2. Time-frame

Time frame is another factor that differentiates paid and free social listening tools. Indeed, free social listening tools can analyze the data of current social media posts but cannot access the data from a few years ago. 

On the other hand, paid social listening tools can analyze and monitor data from a few years ago. It can go back six to eight years to analyze the social media data content. It means that they analyze and monitor the conversations and content posted on social media platforms a few years ago. 

They have access to reputable conversations because they collaborate with and license several service providers or websites. They work in a way to ensure legal analysis instead of scrapping.

Also Read- How Do You Develop A Social Listening Strategy?

3. Multiple language support

Beyond the amount of content and time, multiple language support differentiates paid social listening tools from free social listening tools. 

Free social listening tools can only analyze the data of a single language, like English. 

Some social listening tools will also allow you to analyze data in local or national languages, but you’ll need assistance if you want to analyze content or data from other nations.

On the other hand, paid social media tools will allow you to analyze the data in multiple languages. It means that you can analyze the data in more than one language, including French, German, and more. This will help you understand the sentiment of the international audience.

4. Deep insight

Indeed, both social listening tools provide insight into the data based on the social media platforms. But it does not mean that both social listening tools provide deep and accurate data insights. 

Free social listening tools provide less accurate or more profound insight into social media data. 

On the other hand, paid social listening tools cannot provide deep and accurate insight because they have access to a larger pool of social media users’ data. 

Moreover, they can analyze a larger number of social media platforms than a free social listening platform.

5. Graphs

Indeed, graphs are an easy way to understand any kind of data. You can understand data or reports by viewing any graph or chart faster than in other ways. 

Free social listening tools do not provide any graphs with their reports. They only provide a short report after an analysis. 

On the other hand, you will get a report graph after the analysis, along with paid social listening tools. You can easily download or export this graph to show it to your marketing team.

6. Limitation

You may think that free social listening tools will not impose any limitations on you. So you are wrong. Many free tools in any field come with limitations. 

Free social listening tools have several limitations because they will only allow you to access basic features, like social media metrics, the context of mentions, the media wall, country and language analysis, and more.

On the other hand, paid social listening tools allow you to access advanced features like historical mentions, historical analysis, campaign management analysis, and more. 

It means that it does not come with any limitations. However, these tools have some plans, and you might need more support with low-cost plans. If you want to access unlimited features, you must purchase a plan with a higher cost.

7. Mention limit

Most people think that both free and paid social listening tools give access to unlimited mentions of the brand name. But they are wrong. Indeed, free social listening tools can analyze mentions in social media posts, but they do so within a limit.

On the other hand, paid tools can give you access to analyze more mentions on social media platforms. However, it depends on the paid plan that you have purchased. Remember, the higher the cost of the plan, the more detailed the analysis you get.

Free vs. paid social listening tools: Verdict 

We know that you still need clarification about which social listening tool is best for you or your brand. We recommend you consider your needs and requirements before making a decision. 

The free social listening tool is best for those who want to start their social media analysis journey. 

Free social media listening is the best if your business is small and you want it for a small project. 

On the other hand, if you need to analyze bigger data or social media audiences, don’t hesitate to invest in paid tools. Paid tools can help you get accurate results in less time.


With the help of social listening tools, businesses can better understand their customers, monitor the reputation of their brands, and stay one step ahead of the competition. 

Free social listening tools offer businesses minimal resources with limited options. Paid social listening platforms, on the other hand, provide broader functionality, deeper insights, and more advanced analytics. 

In the end, the choice between free and paid social listening tools will totally depend on your business’s needs, goals, and budget. 

While free tools can be a good starting point, businesses that want to leverage the full potential of social listening should consider investing in a paid tool.

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