Everyone loves lyrical wax, so you’ll love to read that we’re about to wax lyrical about Brandwatch.
We can’t help it, it’s literally the best tool available for social media monitoring. However, we do know that our services are out of the price range for many one-person businesses and small companies that don’t quite have the budget.
We’ve tried to put together a short list of the basic tools that you can get your mitts on for free, for those needing an introduction to SMM. Of course, we’ll tenderly ease you into the world of SMM too, but this selection will give you an idea of the basics of what can be done.
Do remember though, that although some of these tools claim to be comprehensive, none of these tools are even close to what Brandwatch and other Enterprise-level tools can provide, and they’re not an alternative. There’s a gaping chasm in quality, range and quantity of features – the return really does justify the cost. If you’d like to find out any more about us you can have a poke around on our website or in our brochure.
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One of the better free tools available, Social Mention offers a wide range of information on your brand or search term of choice.
Using automated sentiment analysis, topic clouds (or rather, a list), key users, filtered real-time search results and other useful data, Social Mention is a fairly comprehensive portal for keeping track of mentions across the web.
The tool also provides some fairly arbitrary scores, which can also be useful for tracking purposes, including a sentiment ratio and a score for passion, reach and strength.
One drawback is that the results aren’t very consistent. Scores can change rather dramatically even when performing two identical searches within the same hour.
Verdict: Probably the best free tool available
How Sociable is specifically designed with brand impact in mind. They’ve measured over 250,000 brands for users over the past couple of years in a purely automated process that sees a brand assigned a score across different social networks.
It takes 36 different sites into account when evaluating each brand’s figure, though deeper analysis requires a sign-up fee.
How useful it is beyond that is in question. Like Klout, it appears to be a site that offers you a quantifiable score, then little more incentive to stay on the site.
Verdict: About as useful as the left side of the Countdown clock
More of a data visualisation than a useful day-to-day tool really, Streamgraphs takes the past 1000 tweets on any topic of your choice, then visualises them over the time period for the tweets.
What’s more is that it features a topic extractor, dividing the tweets into different keywords in the process. It’s a fancy little thing, but looks like it hasn’t been updated since 2009. It presumably uses the Twitter API too, so it’s unlikely 100% of tweets are assessed for the streamgraphs.
Verdict: An interesting way of visualising data and valuable to get a glance at the topics of your tweets. Not very valuable for company-level monitoring though.
This browser-based monitoring solution is laid out like Tweetdeck, where your searches are split into columns and the data streams in in real time.
The platform does offer cool things like free widget downloads and some customisation, though ultimately it’s not offering much more than a Twitter search would do, albeit side-by-side.
Verdict: Like Tweetdeck but without engagement. More effort than worth really, a bit like a pedal-powered wheelchair.
Standing for ‘Oh My God, I Love It’, Omgili offers a number of handy things to play with. One of the nicest features it has is its ‘Answers Snippets’, where it extracts the main point from forum posts about your query. It seems particularly good at finding social media mentions across forums and blogs, and has a useful graph plotter for comparing your searches.
The confusing interface is a small price to pay for a decent all-round monitoring tool.
Verdict: Oh my god, I like it.
Annoyingly you have to sign up before you can use Samepoint, though for freebie standards it’s a fairly comprehensive tool for keeping track of your brand across Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn, as well as ‘thousands of others’. It also looks at Blogspot sites and does a bit of sentiment analysis for you too.
It also allows you to engage a tiny bit from within the site, and has some basic analysis tools available too. Based in New York, Samepoint has been around since 2009.
Verdict: one of the better ways to get your monitoring done for free
Here’s the verdict on a few more…
Keotag – claims to offer comprehensive coverage of lots of different searches, but many of the streams just don’t work
Mention – good platform, solid email alert system. However, the freemium model means paid upgrades are all but essential
Topsy – more of a search engine than a monitoring tool, it’s really one of the best ways to search through tweets. Claims to have access to the firehose too.
Google Alerts/Trends – nice to have the alerts delivered straight to your inbox, but seems to miss way too much to be valuable as a reputation tracker.
Hootsuite/Tweetdeck – these two are more of a management and engagement system than a monitoring tool, though both include some basic firehose-enabled search features
Twilerts – Like with Google Alerts, it’s lovely having them sent right in your inbox; useful if you’d like to be alerted to particular searches that you may not be able to anticipate.
The final word is to again reiterate that while many of these tools could provide you with some degree of a solution to your social media monitoring needs, the top-end tools do everything these ones do much, much better and a thousand things more too.