Every day billions of people take to social media and discuss…pretty much everything. From dancing cats and terrorism to Beyonce and economic policy, no topic is too big or too small. Finding anything useful in this deluge of social media data presents a challenge but a good way to start is by running a quick social search. A social search lets you see who is talking about a certain topic, brand or hashtag and then analyse it according to a variety of performance metrics.
Of course if you are a company of a decent size with a relatively significant budget, your best option is probably to invest in a paid social media monitoring tool. But if you’re just starting out or even if you just want to take a quick look at a trending topic or a popular hashtag, you’ll want to start with something that’s free.
Here at Talkwalker we launched our free social search tool last summer which we like to think is a bit like a Google search for social mentions (with added analytics naturally!) and it also gives you a taste of what a paid social media monitoring tool can do. But for our list, we decided to ask some of the influential people in the social media world (as well as a few Talkwalker colleagues!) which other free social search tools they found useful and here is what we found:
TweetReach: Quick, Sharp!
Tweetreach gives a quick snapshot of a variety of Twitter metrics for a certain term or hashtag. You can see the estimated reach of the term, the total activity surrounding it, the number of contributors and lists of top tweets and top contributors. In the free version you only get the top 50 tweets but it can still be helpful if you just want to get the general idea of how much impact a certain topic is making and who the top influencers are.
But don’t just take it from me, here is what Peter Trapasso (@petertrapasso), a social media consultant had to say:
“Tweetreach is great for quick research on a url, hashtag or brand and provides some nice Twitter analytics. The paid version gives you real-time analytics and supports Instagram and Tumblr.”
Topsy: Data King
Whereas Tweetreach just looks at Twitter, Topsy looks across a broader range of social and online media and in several different languages. You first get the option to search by link, tweet, image, video, influencer or everything. Once you’ve searched, you can then breakdown your results to look at the last hour, day, week or month. The analytics section lets you see how many mentions there have been on a certain topic and lets you compare it with up to two other keywords. One particularly impressive feature is that you can search for tweets all the way back to 2006!
Steve Farnsworth (@Steveology), CMO of The Steveology Group and Forbes Top 50 Social Media Influencer:
“Topsy is a great tool for researching how a topic is talked about on social. When I am crafting messaging, I’ll look at what is shared, by whom, and how they word their update. Also, I’ll look at the popularity of hashtags, how common they are, what other hashtags are used, and how targeted a specific hashtag is to that topic and if the hashtags are used for other non-related topics. In under, 5 minutes I have surveyed a virtual focus group of thousands of people and conversations to help me choose the best words for my social messaging. In the not too distant past this would have taken me months and tens of thousands of dollars.”
Ian Cleary (@IanCleary), Tech Blogger for RazorSocial, Contributor to Social Media Examiner and VentureBeat:
“Topsy provides all tweets back to 2006 and is a really useful tool to find out popular content tweeted related to a particular topic. When I’m researching blog content I always use Topsy to find out key influential people sharing out the content, popular content related to my topic and see what type of images/videos are shared out with the content.
Keyhole: The All Rounder
Keyhole doesn’t quite offer the same number of platforms as Topsy but you can still search across Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. The dashboard report is very easy to read and gives you a timeline of when your term was mentioned the most, the top posts by retweets and likes, klout score or recency. You can also view a theme cloud of top related topics and even an analysis of which devices/applications were used to post. Here’s our very own social media tools specialist Julie (@J_Hong3) with her thoughts:
“Keyhole is interesting because it gives you highly visual insights on one page. Although the free version is limited to Twitter data over the past 7 days, you can instantly check the virality of certain terms, post titles and hashtags in a timely manner.”
Twazzup: Back to Basics
Like Tweetreach, Twazzup is a site that just tracks Twitter mentions. Its focus is less on graphs and graphics and more on the individual tweets and tweeters themselves. You can quickly find the top Twitter influencers on a certain topic and even view a list of the top tweets of related keywords. It may not have quite the range of some of the other tools on this list, but in terms of ease of use Twazzup scores highly.
Here are some thoughts from Peter Trapasso:
“I like the real-time updates that Twazzup provides. The simple dashboard view in a browser tab makes it very convenient too.”
Tagboard: Looking Good
Tagboard is a little different from some of the above tools as it focuses more on the visual aspect than providing a large amount of data and analytics. It also makes no bones about its focus: hashtags. You get a screen with posts shown in full which can then be filtered by tweets, Facebook posts, Google + posts, Vines, Instagram posts and Flickr photos. This gives you a Pinterest-esque view of how leading hashtags are being used. Other nifty features are the ability to save a particular tagboard you’re interested in and the sentiment gauge.
Here are my two cents: “Tagboard gives you a nice visual representation of how a hashtag is being used across multiple channels. The sentiment function is also a nice added feature that a lot of free tools haven’t thus far incorporated.”
BuzzSumo: Content Corner
BuzzSumo is a great tool for content marketers as its main function is to find the top performing content around a certain term or keyword. You can view backlinks, see who shared the content and even share the content in the list yourself. You can also filter the results by the type of content – a great feature if you want to understand the impact of each content type. You can also search terms by influencer to find the people who could potentially help to spread your content further.
Dave Chaffey (@DaveChaffey), Editor of @SmartInsights, author of Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice said:
“I love Buzzsumo since it gives a great visual summary that helps you quickly learn which types of content work best for your audience – like the different categories on our Content Marketing matrix for example. You can search by topic and URL and filter by content type and date. It also provides detail about the Twitter users who have shared the content, all of whom can be sorted by page authority or followers, and filtered further by ‘bloggers’, ‘influencers’, ‘companies’, ‘journalists’ and ‘regular people’.
Social media is full of potentially useful insights and these free social search tools can help you get a basic look at what people online are saying about a topic, brand or hashtag. Most of these tools also have paid versions but the free versions still provide plenty of information to get started.
You’ve probably tried a few of the tools above and as well as Talkwalker’s own free social search. Which is your favourite? Let us know in the comments below!
Read more: Social Search and Social Résumés
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