Since brand presence on social media became essential, social media monitoring became a regular part of every marketer’s job. The issue, as with many digital marketing activities, is that manual monitoring is time-consuming and cumbersome to the point that one can’t possibly perform it well with no help from technology.
The rise of social media, therefore, lead to the appearance of a number of social media monitoring tools. Some went even further in their functionality - they took on themselves web monitoring as well. The main reason for that is that Google Alerts lately ignores most of keywords and is extremely unreliable.
Besides, it is convenient for users to have all the information on one dashboard: both mentions that come from social media, and mentions that come from the Web (forums, blogs, Q&A sites, etc). While it seems like the market is overloaded with such tools, this is simply not true. A closer look will quickly tell you that most tools that focus on social media either deal with scheduling and posting content, or cover only a few of social media platforms, or are simply unreliable.
Therefore, I’ve prepared a list of the top 5 - the tools that do social media monitoring properly.
Awario is a social media and Web monitoring tool. All mentions of the keywords come in real time, so that the user can react to them promptly. Any keyword can be monitored with Awario: whether it is your brand, a person, a sentence, or a common word. Built-in Boolean search makes keyword monitoring extremely flexible, making it possible for the user to get only relevant mentions of their keywords.
Awario’s functionality allows the user to see important conversations first, which is important if the business is big enough to have brand mentions all over the Web. The program judges the importance of the mention based on how influential the author of it is (judged, in turn, by their number of social media audience) or based on the website traffic. Whether you want to reply to the important mentions only, or to everyone - you can do that right from the dashboard on social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, and Google Plus. Awario saves all your conversations so that you can easily come back to them later.
On top of social media monitoring, Awario offers some useful analytics functions. You can easily see the growth of your mentions over time, identify top influencers by social network, and compare the reaction to different campaigns, or compare your brand to your competition.
Pricing: starts from $19/mo. A Free 14-Day trial is provided (no credit card required).
Brand24 is another undoubtedly effective social media monitoring tool. It covers Web monitoring as well and also works in real time. You can easily track any keyword using Boolean search, engage with authors of your mentions straight from the dashboard, and look through saved historic data whenever you need it.
Brand24 performs all the basic analytics, and goes beyond that by providing sentiment analysis. While the company is obviously proud of this function, I’ve personally found it pretty misleading. Brand24’s sentiment analysis (and sentiment analyses of other similar tools) are based on judging mentions that contain the words “love”, “great”, “awesome”, etcetera as “positive” mentions.
However, it is important never to forget that we’re dealing with active Internet users when we analyze social media, and the difference between them and people that email your support team is that the latter complain publicly. This means they try to sound interesting (read: sarcastic or passive-aggressive), and when they say “The service was just great” it can mean anything depending on the context. Coming back to the Brand24’s analytics, I enjoyed using their influence score - an authority index calculated for every discussion participant.
Brand 24 is an app that can be easily used on any device, and to make sure you don’t miss any conversation on the Web, the company will send you emails with updates.
Pricing: starts from $49/mo. A Free 14-Day trial is provided (no credit card required).
Mention is one of the oldest and most known social media monitoring tools on the market. As the tools previously discussed, it monitors everything - all social media and the Web, and it does it in real time. However, it lets you engage only with Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram from their dashboard. Mention is a very useful tool for a social media marketing team - it enables users to share mentions with other team members and assign tasks to each other.
Mention has a very straightforward interface and is generally easy to use. In terms of analytics, it provides you with a nice influencer score report, sentiment analysis, and my favourite: geographical and language filters that show you where people are talking about you. It also shows topic clouds of keywords related to your original keywords.
Pricing: starts from $29/mo. A Free 14-Day trial is provided (no credit card required).
Hootsuite might be the most popular tool in the social media marketing world. It is important to keep in mind that it’s not a social media monitoring tool - it’s a social media management one. That means Hootsuite does posting and scheduling better than monitoring. However, social media monitoring is included in its set of functions, and they are doing a decent job. Besides, you can also easily engage with your audience on Twitter, Instagram, Google+, LinkedIn, YouTube and Pinterest.
Hootsuite also offers very detailed and insightful analytics. Collected data can be filtered by location, language, and gender. Hootsuite also offers to do sentiment analysis. Unlike in all tools discussed above, though, the reports are not included in the payment plan and have to be paid for separately. Hootsuite is a great choice if you have to collaborate as a team: the app delegates replies and allows multiple members to access a number of social media channels without them needing to know the password for each one.
Pricing: Hootsuite offers a free plan, a Pro that starts with 9.99$/mo if you pay annually, and 14.99$/mo if you pay monthly. There is a free 30-day trial (credit card required). Keep in mind that Hootsuite is full of hidden costs.
It has to be said straight away: Brandwatch is for large brands and agencies. It’s expensive, it allows unlimited users, their dashboard is perfect for sharing and administering.
As a primarily social media monitoring tool, it does real-time listening across all social media platforms and the Web. Historical data is available according to the pricing plan: it goes up to 30 days back for the cheapest one and up to year 2010 for the rest. Brandwatch does not allow engagement, so you would need to react to mentions manually if your goal is interaction, not just analysis.
Analysis is Brandwatch’s main and most powerful feature: the number of filters is almost unlimited, allowing the user to dig deep into the data and perform serious market research. Reporting in Brandwatch is also comprehensive and clear - perfect for presenting to clients.
As all social media monitoring tools discussed above, Brandwatch provides email alerts. Besides, being focused on data, it sends you signals: email alerts that automatically notify you when there are significant or unexpected changes in your data. This can be very helpful for monitoring crises, escalating customers complaints, and controversial campaigns.
Your choice of a social media monitoring tool depends on a number of crucial things: your goals, the scale of your business, and your budget. While all of the tools above could be useful for your brand in their own way, it is important to decide on your priorities and keep your mind on ROI.
I personally would advise to try Awario, Brand24 or Mention for small and average-sized businesses with limited budget that prioritize brand promotion, social selling and reputation management. Hootsuite is an optimal tool if posting is the main goal of your social media strategy, and social media monitoring is a secondary one. And if you want to perform a properly extensive market research - try out Brandwatch.
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* Adapted lead image: Public Domain, pixabay.com via getstencil.com