Published On: Sat, May 29th, 2010

10 Free Social Media Monitoring Tools

I was encouraged to write a list of free social media monitoring tools after a previous post where I argued why organisations have to monitor social media. Admittedly, this post has been a long time coming, but as someone who uses a variety of free and paid for tools everyday, I believe it is important for the next generation of PR practitioners to have an understanding of their use.

As a result I’m hoping this post will primarily be useful to two groups of people:

  • Students or people who want to work in the social media side of PR – essentially, those who want to acquaint themselves with a few of the tools and principles of social media monitoring.
  • Organisations who have heard a lot about social media and would like to see (for free) the conversations taking place around their brand.

Before we start, I would also add, that in order to get a fuller understanding of the conversation around brands, I would advise using a variety of these monitoring tools in tandem, rather than relying on just one service.

Why monitor?
This is a fairly lengthy post and one that I hope people will find helpful, however I feel it deserves some justification. Well here goes…basically, the amount of conversation occurring on social media platforms means that there is a whole load of data out there ready to be mined for our clients – and this data, ultimately can and will help support the decision-making process. It has got to. For too long, Public Relations relied on instinct or even worse group-think, rather than data to inform communications strategy. But that is changing.

As a result PR agencies are increasingly hiring people to solely analyse online conversation, as well as looking for people who have a firm grasp of the basics. Hopefully, this post may enable you to do just that. Social media monitoring is the evolution of offline media monitoring, but agencies want this technical skill along with analysis to be in-house. We have a situation where clients not only want to know what journalists have written, but what consumers have said and importantly, how they can respond.

Another reason for this post is my passion for equipping the next generation of PR practitioners with the right skills for the job. On a daily basis I work with people whose role is to monitor and analyse WOM around our clients and I think there is a case for universities to show students the relevant tools to equip them with the right, practical skills for the job. It is an important to skill to be able to work out where conversations around brands are taking place. I’m hoping this post will point people in the right direction and give them the impetus to play around with the plethora of tools, gain an understanding of how they work and the data they provide.

1. Alexa
Alexa is a web information company that allows you to track the performance of any website. It can give you all kinds of useful data and organises them by country, language or in a custom category. I would recommend downloading the Alexa toolbar to get a better understanding of the information available.

Tip: Check out the Alexa and Google Page Rank plugin which can easily be added to your Google Chrome browser.

2. Blog Pulse
BlogPulse describes itself as an ‘automated trend discovery system for blogs’. Essentially, it is a search engine for blogs that analyses and reports on daily activity in the blogosphere. BlogPulse offers plenty of trend and other analytic information which can shape decision-making and let’s you understand the ‘buzz’ around a brand.

3. Boardreader
Boardreader is a search engine for forums and boards, enabling you to get fast and quality search for your own forum. Boardreader is a great tool for issue monitoring and identifying where conversations around particular brands are taking place.

4. Ellerdale
Ellerdale is a site that helps you understand what is being said on Twitter. It shows you what topics are trending in sports, politics, music, products and more. Ellerdale has the ability to curate a real-time Twitter view of any topic, including which users are the most rewtweeted on that subject, the top articles and the time of day people are most engaged today.

5. Google Alerts, Google Analytics & Google Trends
Google has changed the web forever and it is much more than just a search engine. Have a look at Google Alerts which allows you to sign up to receive email updates whenever specific names or phrases are mentioned. This is a great tool for issues monitoring and let’s you know when people are talking about a brand or issue.

Google Analytics is an excellent web analytics dashboard that gives useful insights into your web traffic. Google Analytics’ greatest strength is its ease of use coupled with comprehensive data which allowing you to analyse who is visiting your website. 

Google Trends allows you to understand what is popular online. It allows you to enter up to five topics and see how often they’ve been searched on Google over time. Google Trends also shows how frequently your topics have appeared in Google News stories, and in which geographic regions people have searched for them most.

Next: Once you have familiarised yourself with Google Trends, have a look at Google Ad Sense and think how you could make it work for a client. An understanding of online Above-the-Line marketing techniques is always valuable.

6. Ice Rocket
IceRocket is an Internet search engine that has expanded into searching popular social networks, such as Twitter and MySpace as well as allowing searching of news sites and the web.

Tip: Familiarise yourself with IceRocket’s Big Buzz feature that allows you to search blogs, Tweets, news, images and more all from one page.

7. It’sTrending
It’s Trending is like Ellerdale, except that it lists what people share publicly on Facebook. The site serves as a zeitgeist for news, videos, technology, entertainment and more. Whilst, this service is useful, you can only view what people publicly share, so it serves more as signpost for trends and qualitative data, rather than quantitative data.

8. Technorati
Technorati is another great blog search engine. It indexes millions of blog posts in real-time and surfaces them quickly – it is an excellent starting point and brilliant to keep track of breaking stories, opinions, photos and videos across the web. Technorati not only tracks the authority and influence of blogs, but offers an index of influential blogs.

9. Twitterfall
Twitterfall is a Twitter client specialising in real-time tweet searches. New tweets fall into the page and it has many features which make it great for tracking conversation as it happens. This is great for monitoring conversation around a brand or issue.

10. Twitter Search
Twitter Search enables you to search, filter and interact with the large volumes of conversation on Twitter. This search application helps you filter all the real-time information coursing through Twitter.

If you are well acquainted with some of the tools listed, I’m confident that this knowledge will stand anyone in good stead at a PR job interview. Alternatively, if you are an organisation I’m hopeful this post will act as a solid introduction to social media monitoring, although I must stress, the free tools are the tip of the iceberg.

I appreciate that there are many, many tools out there and I would be interested to hear what free social media monitoring tools you use and more importantly what you would recommend.

About the Author

- Content Marketing guy @Indeed. Interested in PR, Content, Big Data, Inbound, Employability, Storytelling, Social Selling, Analytics, Search, Food & Drink, QPR.

Displaying 26 Comments
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  1. [...] Zobacz resztę artykułu: 10 free social media monitoring tools « Ben Cotton's take on PR … [...]

  2. Hi Ben

    Thanks for this post. All tools you listed are very handy. I’d like to recommend Social Mention http://www.socialmention.com. This free tool combines different ways of monitoring various social media sources and provides content analysis. I like that users can choose in which language to conduct a search.

    Katya

  3. [...] more: 10 free social media monitoring tools « Ben Cotton's take on PR … This entry was posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2010 at 11:00 and is filed under Internet, Opinion. [...]

  4. [...] this article: 10 free social media monitoring tools « Ben Cotton's take on PR … This entry was posted on Saturday, May 29th, 2010 at 11:00 and is filed under Commentary, [...]

  5. [...] more from the original source: 10 free social media monitoring tools « Ben Cotton's take on PR … 29/05/2010 – 11:00 | By apanhamentirosos | Posted in Internet, Media, Opinion | Tagged [...]

  6. Daniel says:

    Hey Ben,

    I wrote my own article on free social media monitoring tools…have a look.

    http://www.social-brand-value.com/2010/05/31/free-social-media-monitoring-tools-list/

    Cheers
    Daniel

  7. Hi Ben,

    Thanks for a great list of free resources! I especially appreciate that you explained how to best use each search engine. It’s not necessarily a ‘trend tracker’ but I would suggest Case Studies Online: http://www.casestudiesonline.com/. It is catalog of social media case studies, which can become a helpful resource when the client wants to see how similar industries are using social media. Thanks again!

  8. Great post Ben.

    You’re spot on when you say that data within social media is largely ignored but ultimately could assist brands in their decision-making process, and more specifically, in making the right decision. I couldn’t agree more. I do believe that as companies start to warm to the thought of social media and social media monitoring they will come to understand how important this space is.

    I also agree with you with regards to using different tools that complement each other, especially while you’re not ready to commit to a paid tool and are trailing different forms of monitoring. What paid monitoring can do however is incorporate a lot of the functions that are split into different free tools, which ultimately saves you a lot of time. I would also stress that as companies listen more they will need/ want to engage and this is where Radian6 can be really useful as it allows you to not only monitor but also respond to conversations within social media quickly and effectively.

    I look forward to reading more.

    Olivia
    Marketing and Community Manager
    @6Consulting
    UK focused Radian6 partner

    • Ben Cotton says:

      Hi Olivia,

      Sorry for the delay in getting back to you!

      I completely agree that when companies start to warm to the thought of social media monitoring they will come to understand how important this space is.

      This is a challenge we have encountered regularly, however clients are normally won over when we are able to provide metrics and other data about their consumers behaviour which is linked to a measurable outcome e.g. sales, likes, clicks, sign-ups etc. This is what clients like to see and we must remember that as consultants our role is to be a partner who advises, challenges and provides counsel, rather than a service provider.

  9. Josh says:

    Chirrps is a new app that lets you see the most popular tweets as well as real time in different categories. There is also a search function and the profiles section is more like facebook than Twitter (though it’s powered by twitter). http://chirrps.com

    • Ben Cotton says:

      Hi Josh,

      Thanks very much for the heads up on Chirrps. It’s certainly a useful tool that tries to make sense of all the noise out there in the Twitterverse. It has a great search facility that allows you to mine down to quite granular levels and I’ll certainly return to it again in the future.

  10. Nice list. Some new ones foe me. You might want to take a look a Surchur also. http://www.surchur.com
    Christine Taylor
    V/P New Media
    JTMar.com
    christine@jtmar.com

  11. Ben Cotton says:

    Hey Katya, thanks for the comment. I agree: Social Mention is another great free monitoring tool out there. The ability to choose a language is a huge added bonus too. I also like Board Tracker for getting to grips with the forums out there.

  12. Ben Cotton says:

    Hey Daniel, that is a very extensive list – and one which I will bookmark and share will colleagues. I would be interested to hear what your top 10 tools are, as well as your likes/dislikes for each.

  13. Ben Cotton says:

    Hey Katelyn, thanks very much for sharing this link. I’ve only had a quick look at Case Studies Online, but it looks a fantastic library of case studies and one which I shall starting looking at more closely. It is always great to have a stock of sucessful case studies.

  14. Daniel says:

    Hey Ben,

    I use HootSuite as my Twitter/Facebook client but I suppose Tweetdeck works great as well. I love to browse the Facebook Fanpages on allfacebook or insidefacebook.

    I also love Twittercounter to browse Twitter.

    I actually thought BlogPulse was great but had to revise my opinion there. I tried using it for the most popular blog and news stories on the Internet but it counts automated linkages/pings as well and they therefore measure data which is mainly spam (Technorati stopped using the automated pinging). So BlogPulse has dropped out of my “useful” list.

    Love Digg and retweet to get the top stories out of the web.

    I’m just hoping Facebook will come up with a solution that shows the top most shared news stories. Would eliminate Digg but would be a better measuring method. Also they could show the post per country/language. Or do you know of anyone who already monitors the Facebook share options?

    Cheers
    Daniel

  15. Hi Ben,

    Long time no speak! I like Twitter Analyzer – http://twitteranalyzer.com/ms.aspx?userId=digitalhotspot – I use it as more of an analysis tool rather than for monitoring feeds. It’s very useful none the less.

    Charlotte Brophy @ swamp

  16. great list – thanks for sharing. the comments here have been great as well.

    happy monitoring everyone!

  17. Yazmin Meza says:

    Hi Ben,

    Thank you very much for your post I found it very practical for someone like myself, who is starting to get involved with these tools.

    In a CIPR seminar I attended, Matt McKay recommended almost the same tools than you, he just added Twittervision and Xefer. Do you have any comments about them?

    Cheers.

    Yazmin

    • Ben Cotton says:

      Thanks for the comment Yazmin. Matt has suggested two useful tools. Twittervision is a wonderful visual representation of how people are feeling by location, arguably this is closest to the much coveted Zeitgeist that people have been chasing, whilst, Xefer can provide you with some good data.

      If truth be told, I could have written a whole post dedicated to just Twitter monitoring tools, however I wanted to produce a post that would allow people to gain a broader understanding of monitoring tools – beyond the usual suspects of Twitter and Facebook.

      If you want a bit more information on Twitter tools – check out the Edelman Digital blog http://edelmandigital.com/2010/06/28/tracking-twitter-trends/

      Or the Tweasier blog run by my good friend Chris Norton
      http://tweasier.com/blog/

  18. [...] a nerd, I love the process of researching and collecting information – especially about social media tools. The new digital tools that Mashable features every day leaves me feeling overwhelmed and with too [...]

  19. [...] 10 Free Social Media Monitoring Tools – 23 comments and 4 Likes [...]

  20. Olivia Merchant says:

    Hi Ben,
    Really a Good Efforts.I would like to add one more site i.e http://www.trackthisnow.com
    This site is very user friendly and track your keywords from 20 different search engines and provide the result in a page.The result includes News Sites,Blogs,Social Networking sites,Books,Images,Videos,Jobs and lot.You can go for Map facilities where you can choose your region and topic you want to search for.
    Have a Look….

    Cheers…

  21. Sam Abraham says:

    Hi Ben, Try Actionly for affordable option to Social Media Monitoring. We have recently integrated with Google analytics and track your Social Media ROI. And also offer White labeling. Plans range from free to $100/mo.
    Actionly offers White labeling, Brand tracking across Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Flickr, YouTube etc and also allow managing multiple Twitter or Facebook accounts from our dashboard. Schedulable reports, Email alerts, Sentiment analysis and many more are included in our featured list.
    Try us out we do have a FREE account as well. Thx!
    http://www.actionly.com
    If any questions, feel free to reach me at sam@actionly.com
    Thanks,
    Sam Abraham | Community Manager, Actionly

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