Avoid selective hearing with 20 top social media monitoring tools

May 21, 2009 by Lisa Oshima | Research, Review, Social Media

You hear that? … What about that? …  Still can’t hear it?  What you’re probably not hearing is the sound of people talking about your brand online.  Right now, you could be missing tens, hundreds, thousands, perhaps even millions of consumer led conversations about your brand.

Unconvinced?  If you’re based in America, how many times in the last six months have you heard a friend utter the word “Snuggie” or a “ShamWOW!” versus the number of times you’ve actually seen an advertisement for a “Snuggie” or “ShamWOW!”?  If you’re anything like me, you’ve probably heard the words uttered and seen them printed on social networks more than you’ve actually seen the commercials.  Brands infiltrate both in person and online conversations every second of every day.  While you can’t eves drop on every voice to voice conversation about your brand, it’s now easy to find out what people are saying about your brand online.

Chances are that if you work for a big brand, your PR agency is listening to what the media and big bloggers say about you.  But, is your PR agency tracking social networks like Twitter and Facebook, and are they reporting the aggregate data from ground level conversations to you?  If you work for a smaller company and don’t use a PR firm, you’re even more likely to miss the aggregate of important conversations people are having about your brand online. Why should you care about these conversations?  In aggregate, these conversations are either helping or hurting your brand.  In addition, if conversational data is mined effectively, it’s possible to extract themes that can proactively inform both marketing strategies and product road map decisions. Also, tracking conversations people are having about your competitors and comparing them to your own can give you a much better understanding of how you stack up against your competition.

There are painless and time-efficient social media monitoring tools that you and/or your PR agency can use to learn about what people are saying about you.  You don’t need to get sophisticated all at once.  You can start small, using free tools, and build your social media monitoring strategy from there.

By one count, I’ve read that there are over 100 social media monitoring tools out there.  The following 20 tools are a great place to start.

Free tools:

BoardTracker: This search facility allows you to effectively search forums and discussion boards.  You can use it to set up instant alerts that notify you right away if your search term is mentioned.

BlogPulse Conversation Tracker: Run by AC Nielsen, this tool allows you to search for a company name and see a threaded view of the conversational graph that emerges.  So, you can see which blogs, news posts, etc, are fueling the most conversations about your brand online.

BlogPulse Trend Search:BlogPulse Trend Search allows you to create graphs that visually track “buzz” over time for certain key words, phrases or links. Compare search terms/links in isolation, or use all three fields to compare search terms/links against others.”

Google Alerts: Set up a Google Alert for a specific name, word, or phrase, and Google will send you an email every time there is a new mention of that search term.  You can set up a daily or weekly digest email or an “as it happens” alert.  You can do a “comprehensive” search of the term or ask only for an alert when the term is mentioned in news, the web in general, blogs, online videos, or in online groups.

Google Video: Want to know when someone mentions your name or tag line in a video? You can search for it on Google Video.

Jodange: Leveraging the investment Cornell University has made in sentiment analytics, Jodange’s TOM (Top of Mind) solution can be used to extract opinions from online content and drill down to its underlying sentiment about a particular brand.

Lexicon: A Facebook tool that allows you to see how particular words are trending on user’s Walls over time.

Monitter:  Helps you track three separate words or terms simultaneously on Twitter and monitor real-time results.

Oodle: You can learn a lot about about your competition’s future plans (and see what the competition may be guessing about your future plans) by keeping up to date with the jobs they’re posting online.  Set up an RSS feed to keep up to date with the job vacancies of your competitors – Get better at seeing what type of skills they’re trying to acquire and guessing what product changes they’re planning.

Seeking Alpha: This site will allow you to search for your company name or keywords in the conference call transcripts of public companies

Technorati: Lets you search and track what’s happening on blogs across the web.

Trendrr: A useful site that allows you to track and compare trends:

  • “Track the popularity and awareness of trends across a variety of inputs, ranging from social networks, to blog buzz and video views downloads, all in real time.
  • Compare trends to one another, monitoring and evaluating their status across a variety of sources.
  • Share favorite trends with friends and other users and discover new trends that other users are already aware of and tracking.”

Twendz: This is a Twitter mining wet app from PR firm Waggener Edstrom.  It leverages Twitter Search and extracts sentiment out of up to 70 tweets at a time, showing popular sub-topics and popular words within tweets that mention a specific topic.

User Name Check: This site allows you to search across social networks to see who, if anyone has hijacked your brands across social networks.

As and when you’re looking for a more robust end-to-end solution for social media monitoring and don’t mind paying for it, try one of these solutions.

Paid apps:

CI Listen & CI Learn: Collective Intellect makes two products.  CI Listen lets you track “activity, sentiment, author demographics, and emerging conversational themes” from “digital blogs, boards, news, and micro-blogs”. CI Learn consists of “standard and packaged reports combining auto-generated consumer perception metrics and graphs with key insights and recommendations from CI’s digital communications analysts.”

SM2: Techrigy makes SM2, which enables you to “track conversations, reviews and positive/negative sentiment for your brands, clients, competitors and partners across the eco-system called social media: blogs, wikis, microblogs like Twitter, social networks, embedded video and more – in real time.”

Radian6:  Tools to listen to conversations people are having about your brand, measure buzz across social networks, manage a response plan of attack across your team, and create actionable data reports.  As an added bonus, Cision now has an integration with Radian6. In March, they announced, “Through the CisionPoint dashboard, communications professionals can now access vital data about the most influential people and outlets in their industry across the print, online, broadcast and social media included in CisionPoint’s best-in-class Bacon’s Media Database.”

Scout Labs: Like Radian6, Scout Labs is a tool that allows you to track buzz around your brand, but it also tracks sentiment. (Note: for a great article and comment conversation on Radian6 vs. Scout Labs check out this post…)

Spark by Spiral 16: This solution allows you to monitor the effectiveness of your social media strategy, understand the sentiment behind conversations online and mine large amounts of data. It utilizes impressive 3D displays and useful dashboards.  You can see a demo online… Impressive stuff.

TruCast: Visible Technologies’ TruCast product allows you to monitor conversational trends regarding your brand and identify social media influencers online.

There are too many social media monitoring tools out there to mention them all in this post, but the above list is a useful sample of some of the most useful.  I’m always interested in hearing your thoughts… If you’ve tried these or other tools that you find useful, post a comment.

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  • Lisa,

    Thanks for TruCast from Visible Technologies inclusion in your list.


  • Hi Lisa,

    You've very clearly articulated many of the reasons we're so passionate about listening and engagement at Radian6. Thanks very much for including us on your list of recommended tools. We appreciate it.

    Amber Naslund
    Director of Community, Radian6

  • Hi Lisa,

    Great post. I wanted to point out what Netvibes created with Ogilvy PR recently : thedailyinfluence.com. Check out the tab called “My Listening Post” which can be customized by anyone to easily track a brand.

    Greg Cohn

  • Wow -thanks for sharing. I really like it! The Netvibes solution is actually the most useful free tracking tool I've seen because it allows you to aggregate so many other free social media monitoring tools. I've just set up my custom search page.

  • Lisa – thanks for including us with these other great products and services. This is a very robust industry we play in.

  • Hi Lisa,
    Great post – monitoring conversations on social networks nowadays has indeed become essential for companies both large and small.
    As for the free services, have you tried Google blogs yet? There is some background fuzz, but it's pretty thorough.
    Also, for clients looking for a more robust service, might I mention Synthesio? We offer personalized dashboards to clients that have interactive mappings of articles from both traditional and social media in over 130 countries that allow you to click on them and see the verbatims directly associated with the share of voice, sentiment analysis, and trendings of your company/or brand.
    Also, to Greg – we love Netvibes! Thanks and keep up the good work 🙂

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  • Hi Lisa,
    Listening is definitely important. I help many people set up trials of Techrigy SM2 and the most exciting thing is helping them explore the business development opportunities. The advantage of bringing in the conversations to one platform like Techrigy SM2 is that you can find new ideas generated by consumers about your brand & industry.

    We also offer a Freemium version of Techrigy SM2 which many are using. And our professional version is very competitively priced for smaller agencies & brands.

    Chief Community Officer, Techrigy

  • Another paid app is SocialSense by Networked Insights

  • Lisa – Thanks for mentioning Spark by Spiral16 in your list!

  • Another tool to add to the “paid list” is Sysomos' Heartbeat – http://sysomos.com/products/overview/heartbeat. It's a cost-effective and flexible monitoring and measurement tool.

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  • Great post, Listening is very important.

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  • Chaz_R

    Good Article Lisa, Thanks. I work for a global digital agency. My company and our clients have used a variety of the typical social monitoring tool some mentioned here and a few others. At first everyone was dazzled until we really understood the actual data behind them. Lot's of bells and whistles presenting incomplete and speculative data sources. As we and our clients got savvy on the whole SMM game we found Wool Labs and their WebDig suite of tools. None of the sex appeal (interface wise) of the others but provides tons and tons, almost too much data. We tested them heavily then recommended them to one of our clients who had been previously using both Radian6 and SM2 and were generally unsatisfied. They instantly dropped the other two. We are only recommending WebDig now. Substance over surface. Is anyone aware of another system like WebDig or they really the dark horse?

  • mecoo

    Great post, Listening is very important..................................................

  • Lisa you are doing great job I really appreciate your post. Keep posting for me.



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