Over the last two posts, we’ve explored the benefits of becoming an avid social media monitor, the different types of listening you can do, and of course, the keywords and phrases you should be monitoring for.

Today is going to be more hands-on! By the end of this post, you’ll be ready to start setting up your social media monitoring posts. Within this post I’m going to go through some great social media monitoring tools, how they work and why you might choose to use them. I’ll also provide you with a list of additional social media monitoring tools, both free and paid, that you may want to look into.

The importance of your social media monitoring tools
Being set up with social media monitoring tools allows you to continuously monitor the discussions around your brand, while not having to spend every waking moment actually monitoring.

Of course if you have a mega brand that gets discussed hundreds or thousands of times each day, then you’ll want to combine these tools (and probably the more advanced paid ones as well) with an actual social media monitoring team. But I’ll be getting more into that in tomorrow’s post.

Yesterday I left you with some homework. I asked you to make a list of the the keywords and phrases you wanted to track and monitor. Today, it’s time to put those keywords to use and start monitoring!

The following are some great free tools that do the job really well:

Google Alerts – google.com/alerts
The Google alerts tool is great for monitoring your targeted keywords, and being alerted whenever they get used online. You simply enter in your keyword or phrase and choose the type of results you want (news, blogs, video discussions, books or all), as well as the frequency in which you’d like to receive these alerts. The great part about Google Alerts, is that you can choose between receiving the alerts straight in your inbox, or within your RSS reader.

SocialMention – socialmention.com
SocialMention is a great tool for monitoring and analyzing different keywords and phrases across the many social media platforms. Similar to Google Alerts, you specify your chosen terms and SocialMention gives you the results from the various social media platforms. Only it goes a step further than Google Alerts. SocialMention also analyzes:

  • The sentiment of the keyword
  • The reach
  • The average number of days between mentions
  • Top keywords
  • Top Users
  • Top Hashtags
  • And more

It’s a great tool to look into!

Twilert – twilert.com
Twilert is a free web-based app that enables you to receive email updates when the keywords you choose get mentioned or discussed on Twitter. Going beyond searching hashtags and @mentions, Twilert scans each and every tweet searching for your specific keyword. You can set it up to scan and notify you as often as you see fit.

Tweetdeck and Hootsuite – tweetdeck.com and hootsuite.com
Tweetdeck and Hootsuite are two very widely used tools for monitoring your social media mentions and discussions. They do relatively the same things, only Tweetdeck is a desktop application and Hootsuite is an online social media monitoring tool.

The great thing about these two tools, is that they allow you to monitor different accounts at once, including different Twitter accounts, Facebook accounts, Linkedin and more. They also make it very simple to monitor your @mentions, direct messages, different search terms, trending topics, and others – all from within the same platform.

Another nifty function is that they allow you to schedule your tweets in advance.

Narrowing in on your search terms
It’s normal if it takes you a few weeks to get the hang of narrowing in on your search terms. One key trick is to be as targeted and direct as possible. This allows you to maximize on the amount of relevant search results that come in.

For example, if you’re monitoring discussions and mentions around the apple brand, you’ll want to use phrases such as “technology”, “computer”, “iPod”, etc. Otherwise, simply monitoring the word “apple” will bring in hundreds of results about the fruit, apple farms, apple picking… You get the idea!

Get notified in real time
All of these different tools are great and can really work together (or separately) to provide you with real-time insights of what’s going on around your brand. But unless you set yourself up to be notified in real-time, all the tools in the world won’t help you detect a social media crisis as it happens – which is what you want if you want the opportunity to react and respond before it grows out of control.

Here are some tricks to help you stay current and aware, at all times:

  • Download the apps for all of the social media monitoring tools you use, and set them up to notify you on each of your mobile devices
  • Activate screen popups
  • Download an RSS reader to your mobile device

Make it easy to stay connected at all times and use the wonders of today’s technology to your advantage. Then you can rest assured that if something goes on in the online world, you will be one of the first to hear about it!

More tools to check out
Free tools:

Paid tools:

As you can see, there are tons of cool tools and applications for you to choose from and use to your advantage!

If you’re a smaller brand with a limited amount of discussions online, then these free tools will allow you the flexibility and awareness that you need to keep track of what’s being said about your brand online, and the opportunity to detect a crisis as it happens.

However, if you’re a bigger brand and you feel that you will need more than just these tools to keep you alert (perhaps monitoring and responding to the discussions is a full time job on it’s own), then join me tomorrow when I will be elaborating on your social media monitoring team, who to hire, and what their job description includes.

Are there any great social media monitoring tools that I left out? Be sure to share your comments with me in the comments section below!