The face of marketing is changing by the day; newer and more innovative ways are being thought of to get across your message to customers and boost your brand value. Commonsense dictates that you go where your customer is, and that’s why social media is the hottest marketing tool today. Almost everyone who has a web presence is on some social network or the other, so when you focus your marketing efforts through these sites, you’re bound to improve your business and find ways to satisfy your customers. However, it’s not just enough to do; you must know how much return your investment generates, and that’s why you need to adopt tools that monitor these social networks and tell you if your efforts are paying off or if you need to step up the tempo or change your strategy. The role of social media monitoring and social user engagement now even has its own job title, our section on Online Community Management Jobs has information on key duties & responsibilities of a community manager.
There are many social network monitoring tools available, some free and others you have to pay for. Here are the best of them, five that you can use at no cost, and five which come with all the bells and whistles and are worth every penny you pay for them:
If you’re looking for a free version, try:
- Socialmention: This site specializes in real-time search and analysis for social media. You can set up alerts with keywords or your company name and receive daily emails on how many people are looking you up or tracking you online. There’s also a widget you can download to receive alerts in real time. The advantage of email alerts is that you have a history of your tracking records to perform comparative analysis from week to week or month to month.
- Twazzup: This site is simple to use and you don’t have to download anything to your computer. All you need to do is type in keywords of interest and watch what people are saying about you online (websites and blogs) and on Twitter.
- Addict-o-matic: One of the best free social network monitoring tools, this site generates results from Twitter, Friendfeed, Flickr, Tweetmeme, Yahoo Web Search, Bing, Google Blog Search, WordPress, Wikio, YouTube, Ask.Com News, Truveo Video Search and Blinkx Mainstream Vid News. The layout is neat and you can easily see which site generates the most mentions.
- HowSociable: With HowSociable, you can gather metrics from Facebook, YouTube, Google, LinkedIn, MySpace, Yahoo, Wikipedia, Digg, Ning, Xing, Vimeo Videos, Reddit, Bebo, FriendFeed and many other social networks. It provides a visibility score that you can use to grade performance and also allows you to keep track of your metrics through email alerts.
- Google Alerts: One of the earliest monitoring tools, Google Alert allows you to set search terms, how often you want to receive notifications, what kind of results you want to see (best match or random mentions), and what kind of sites you want to monitor.
If you’re looking for more sophisticated tools and don’t mind paying for them, your best choices are:
- HootSuite: Available in both paid and free versions, HootSuite allows you to try its premium version for 30 days before you decide on which one suits your purposes best. The paid version allows teams to work in tandem and monitor conversations and campaigns across the web.
- ScoutLabs: Scout Labs offers a 14 day trial period in which you can test its efficacy before you decide to sign up. With customizable work spaces for teams and clients, it allows you to monitor your campaigns and that of the competition with considerable ease.
- Radian6: Although a little on the expensive side, Radian6 is still one of the best social monitoring tools available today. It offers an analytic dashboard and engagement console, and also has a collection of social media case studies, e-books and white papers that you can peruse for more insight.
- Trackur: This is another social media monitoring tool that is available in both paid and free versions; Trackur is also one of the cheapest paid-for tools on the market today with plans as low as $18 a month. It allows you to pay only for features you use, and it’s easier to learn and use because of its simple design.
- BrandsEye: Brands Eye offers plans starting at $1 a month for bloggers and moves on to other packages for businesses and enterprises. It allows you to monitor and manage your reputation online and provides scores that tells you if people are praising or maligning your brand and your products.
This guest post is contributed by Bailey Digger, she writes on the topic of web design degree programs . She welcomes your comments at her email id: baileydigger189(@)gmail(.)com.