Why Listen At All?If you want to make the most from the online presence of your brand, you simply must know what people are saying about it on social media. You need to know what’s being said and where it’s being said. Analyzing data from social listening will help you to understand your audience better and provide more relevant content.But that’s not all. You will also get an idea on how to respond well to the consumers and gather some practical insights that will improve your social media business intelligence. You can listen to what’s being said not only about your own brand, but your competitors as well. All this information will simply help you to create effective marketing strategies and grant you some great opportunities for real-time marketing.Social Listening ToolsThere are plenty of resources to help you gather and analyze data derived from various social media channels. Here are some of the best tools for efficient social media listening.Hootsuite (hootsuite.com)A social media listening classic, Hootsuite is probably the best free tool around. It covers many different social networks – from Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to Google+, Foursquare and WordPress blogs. Hootsuite is perfect for teamwork too – it features a wealth of team management tools, such as private messages or task delegation, and provides weekly analytics reports.Icerocket (icerocket.com)Icerocket is a go to tool if you’re interested in blog posts. It covers other social media outlets as well – a feature called ‘big buzz’ shows you activity on Twitter, Facebook, as well as photo sites like Flickr. It’s free, easy to use and doesn’t require any account registration.Social Mention (socialmention.com)This tool collects lots of data scattered across multiple platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and even Photobucket. It features some basic analytics tools that help to see the number of active sources or whether the sentiment is positive or negative. It’s free and the registration isn’t necessary.Topsy (topsy.com)Topsy focuses on multimedia and blogs, providing you with an option of email alert tied to your Facebook or Twitter account. It allows to see data with some basic analytics, such as sentiment measurement. It’s free and you don’t have to register.TweetDeck (tweetdeck.com)This tool is great for beginners and basically covers all Twitter activity – you can schedule your tweets and monitor your messages or interactions. With TweetDeck, you can also easily manage several accounts and track hashtags – especially important for social listening purposes. Users still report some minor bugs, but otherwise it’s a decent starting tool.TweetReach (tweetreach.com)This is an interesting tool that allows you to see the long-term repercussions of your activity on Twitter. If you’d like to see how far your tweets travel or measure the impact of various social media interactions, that’s the tool to go for. You can easily check who are your most influential followers – this will give you an idea about what kind of content to create and share online.Klout (klout.com)This is a controversial tool, which basically measures user engagement on the basis of Twitter activity. You can see what people are saying about your brand and what influences them the most, helping you to adjust your posts and improve your engagement rate. Some love it, others hate it – it’s best to just test it and see whether its functionalities suit your needs.