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Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Five favorite (and free) social media monitoring tools

Written by will russell

More and more businesses are coming to realize just how important it is to measure their social media efforts. As brands flooded into the world of social media over the last few years, tracking and measuring investment was a secondary concern.

However, as brands begin to feel more settled in the social media scene, the realization of the significance of tracking their efforts has come as quite a shock. With platforms like Facebookcontinuously making changes, people are coming to the conclusion that their efforts need to be strategic and formalized. As explained in my post last week, companies need two primary things when it comes to social media – clear objectives and measurement tactics.

With that, here are my five favorite and free social media monitoring tools, which will hopefully provide you a cost-effective way to measure your efforts:

(Note: I have not included Facebook Insights or Twitter search on this list, on the basis that I wanted it to remain about third-party platforms. Nonetheless, both Facebook Insights and Twitter search are fantastic tools – if you're not using them, you really should be!)

1. Social Mention

social mention

Social Mention is a great tool which – although I primarily use it for Twitter – allows you to track brand mentions across Facebook, social bookmarking sites, blogs and search engines too.

What do I like about it?

The fact that you can track the sentiment of the mentions of your brand, as well as being able to see the most popular keywords and your biggest advocates. The latter is particularly useful when you are preparing for a big marketing push – these advocates will likely be more than happy to help you.

2. Addictomatic

Addictomatic provides you a pretty good, general insight into what's being said about your brand online. It covers several search engines, as well as Twitter mentions, YouTube and Flickr to name just a few.  A nice overview and a fantastic free tool to make use of.

What do I like about it? 

It's  a bit like Google Alerts…but better. It provides a real-time insight into who's talking about your brand across the web. They tell users on their homepage to "inhale the web" – and that's exactly what you can do.

3. Wordle

Wordle allows you to create "word clouds" from text that you provide, including URLs and RSS feeds. So input your Facebook fan page URL and they produce a word cloud of the most popular keywords from the page.

What do I like about it?

It's not the most effective monitoring tool and is definitely more of an extra than an essential, but I find it a useful – not to mention aesthetically pleasing – way to check out what's being talked about most on your social profiles.

4. MonitorThis

social monitoring tool

MonitorThis is a meta-search engine that lets you search 26 search engines to look for blog posts, news articles, photos, tags and tweets on your brand. Certainly a simple tool with no bells and whistles, but it does exactly what it says on the tin.

What do I like about it?

It takes a different look at your brand than most social media monitoring tools, and may provide you with results you can't find elsewhere. Think social media monitoring/search engine results – a bit of both worlds which helps provide you with the best of both worlds.

5. Social Bakers

A month ago, I would have really raved about Social Bakers. However, with the introduction of Facebook's new insights, Social Bakers is now in a position where the bar has been raised, and they need to take steps to keep up. If they want to stay ahead, they will have to make some significant changes.

Also worth noting, it's not free. But it comes at such a great "price-per-fan page" that I felt it was acceptable to include it. It has been a favorite of mine for a while and is definitely worth a further look.

What do I like about it?

Even though its shine is less with Facebook bringing in their new insights, it still provides a great look at Facebook fan page analytics for a fraction of the cost of other platforms. Their blog is also a great source of valuable content which all social media marketers should check out.

These are just a few of the tools out there, and – if you're willing to open you wallet – there are a lot of better analytic platforms which can help monitor your social media efforts. However, the majority of us have a budget to keep an eye on. If you're in this majority – check out the five mentioned above, and let me know what you think!

Do you already monitor your social media efforts? Are there any other analytics platforms you would like to recommend?

[Sent from Ralph Paglia's iPhone]

Ralph Paglia 

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