Listen first! is the first step in almost all advice on creating a social media strategy. To listen effectively you need to choose the right tool. There’s certainly no shortage of choice. Back in 2009 (and updated since) Smart Insights created a comparison of 36 of the best-known online reputation monitoring tools including free and paid.
It seems the choice now is even more bewildering. A November 2015 comparison of social media monitoring tools by Ideya Ltd shows that there are at least 242 tools now available. However, the number of new tools has decreased. Of these services, 187 are paid, with the remainder free or using a combined model.