5 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Simplify Your Marketing

social media toolsAre you measuring your social media efforts?

Do you know what’s working?

Over the years, there have been dozens of social media monitoring tools launched, but not all social media monitoring platforms are created equal.

In this article I’ll show you five platforms that may work for your business.

Social Media Monitoring 101

Before taking a closer look at these platforms, here are a few questions you’ll want to answer first. Your answers will allow you to find the right tool for your business needs.

What Does Your Business Need to Measure?

The most important thing to establish before selecting a monitoring tool is what you’re actually going to measure. Any social media campaign worth its salt has clearly defined objectives and measurable outcomes.

measure

It's important to determine what you want to measure. Image source: iStockPhoto.

These measurable outcomes, or key performance indicators (KPIs), are agreed-upon metrics that will help you determine whether your social media marketing efforts are successful. They can fall into several categories and include thousands of exact pieces of data.

Some of the more popular metrics are outlined below:

  • Reach. You might want to measure the number of fans, followers, blog subscribers and other statistics to gauge the size of your community.
  • Engagement is measuring retweets, comments, average time on site, bounce rate, clicks, video views, white paper downloads and anything else that requires the user to engage.
  • Competitive data may include the brand’s “share of voice” across the web or number of competitors’ brand mentions.
  • Sentiment. You might want to measure the numbers of mentions with positive or negative sentiment.
  • Sales conversions. Do you want to measure social media referral traffic to the top of the sales funnel or number of sales aided by social media efforts?

What’s Your Budget?

The amount of data you need to collect and archive will help determine the cost of social media monitoring for your business. If your company is large with hundreds or even thousands of brand mentions across the social web per day, you can expect the cost of your social media monitoring to be on the high end.

Tracking and storing a large amount of data have a cost attached, apart from the tools’ other features and functions you may want to sign up for.

But before investing in the most expensive tool that promises to keep all of your data forever, ask yourself if you really need it.

Do you have the internal resources to sort, monitor and manage all of that data? Are your KPIs dependent on tracking and responding to every social mention?

Smaller companies have a wide array of monitoring options at various price levels available to choose from.

Many of the lower-cost tools include some sort of Google Alert integration. Google Alerts are the best free way to monitor your brand terms across the web.

Enter a query that you’re interested in, and Google Alerts checks regularly to see if there are new results for your query. If there are new results, Google Alerts sends them to you in an email.

Google Analytics is another free tool to help track social media. Social Media Examiner published a great article on this very topic: How to Measure Your Social Media Traffic Using Google Analytics.

google analytics

Google Analytics not only lets you measure sales and conversions, it also gives you fresh insights into how visitors use your site, how they arrived on your site and how you can keep them coming back.

I would be cautious about using tools that cost less than $100 per month and promise to do everything. A number of tools fall into this category and my experience has been they don’t really do any one thing well.

So to get the best deal, arm yourself with the knowledge of exactly what you need to track and/or manage and don’t get seduced by all of the extras.

Ask More Key Questions

There are more key questions to consider before investing in a social media monitoring solution. Your answers will help you determine the functionality you need and make the choice about what you are willing to pay for.

  • How many people will be monitoring and managing your accounts?
  • Do you only want to monitor social media mentions, or would you also like to manage your social media profiles using this platform?
  • Which profiles are you most active on? You’ll need to be sure your chosen tool supports the networks you use.
  • How long do you need to archive the data? Do you need annual reports, or will monthly reports suffice?
  • Does the data need to be exportable? In which formats?
  • Do you need sentiment analysis?
  • Do you need share of voice metrics requiring vast amounts of competitive data from across the web?
  • What type of customer support are you looking for?
  • Do you need your monitoring tool to integrate with other tools like Salesforce, Google Analytics, etc.?

After answering these questions, you should have a good idea of the requirements you have for a tool to measure your social media marketing results.

Let’s now take a look at a few platforms.

Here’s a comparison of five popular monitoring tools. Teams of developers are constantly updating these tools, so be sure to contact the platform directly for the most up-to-date information on which social media platforms they support.

#1: Viralheat—Social Media Simplified

Viralheat is a platform I’ve used for several years to monitor share of voice for clients at a very reasonable price point. Over the years, their team’s developers have worked to make it a fairly sophisticated monitoring and management tool that any business can afford.

Viralheat

The $49.99 monthly plan allows businesses to manage 15 social accounts and monitor 2 search profiles across Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, video and the web.

One of the most compelling features allows users to compare search profiles or relevant terms across the web and social media so businesses can track individual products and compare social buzz among their own products or compare their brand mentions to competitors’.

Viralheat offers a few ways to visualize this data in a graph or a pie chart. The images below show the total mentions over the weekend for Social Media Examiner as compared to Social Fresh.

compare graph

Viralheat’s Compare feature allows brands to compare their overall brand mentions to their competitors’.

compare pie chart

Viralheat’s Compare feature also allows users to export the data as a pie chart.

By comparing these social media mentions over time, you can determine if campaign efforts are helping increase brand buzz across the web.

#2: Spredfast—Social Media Management

Spredfast is a social media management system for the enterprise. It may not have the most robust tools to report on competitive metrics, but it’s extremely good at organizing content managed by larger teams of community managers.

Spredfast

  • Price: $1,000–$2500 monthly to start
  • Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube, blogs, SlideShare, Flickr
spredfast

Spredfast offers the enterprise efficient ways to manage content, including an online content library that can be accessed by multiple teams.

Jive community manager Melissa Barker recently recommended this tool during a digital marketing webinar. You can watch the on-demand version to hear her exact thoughts on Spredfast.

She uses the platform to efficiently manage workflow:

“I have used a number of social media publishing, monitoring and measurement tools. None of them have the scalability of Spredfast. When you have more than a team of one managing your social media, you need an efficient way to manage workflow and measure the impact of your effort. Spredfast does just that.”

Other compelling features include a content library that allows teams to share content internally, integration with Google Analytics or Omniture and the ability to track customer-care issues resolved via social media.

#3: Sysomos—Business Intelligence for Social Media

Sysomos is a tool that has enough power for larger companies, but doesn’t have the enterprise price tag. They throw in quite a few bells and whistles for the $550 per month plan, including unlimited data, 5 users and a dedicated account manager.

Sysomos

  • Price: $550 per month and up, $500 setup fee
  • Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, blogs, forums, news

The $500 setup fee covers the charge for back-filling your brand data for the last 30 days. This can be extremely useful, especially if your decision to invest in a monitoring tool is the result of a recent online event or competitor’s campaign. Once you sign up, your data will be saved for as long as you are a client, no time limit on your data and mentions.

Sysomos provides both social media monitoring across the web (share of voice) and management of your company accounts including YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, LinkedIn and Google+.

It’s also equipped to import Google Analytics data. Data visualization (or text analytics) is one of this platform’s key features and includes something they call a buzzgraph. It allows users to “get to the root of relevant conversations or branch out from existing discussions and topics, to discover new ones and better understand the many factors that influence them.”

lance buzzgraph

Sysomos text analytics tools include buzzgraph, shown above using keywords related to Lance Armstrong.

The entire article, The Buildup to Armstrong vs. Oprah, can be found on the Sysomos blog.

#4: Sprout Social—Social Media Management

Sprout Social is a modestly priced tool that can effectively help manage and monitor your company profiles on the web. The $39 standard plan includes the management of up to 10 profiles, the ability to publish and schedule messages and limited monitoring. If you are looking for any type of share of voice brand metrics across your industry, this is not the tool for you.

Sprout Social

  • Price: $39–$99 monthly
  • Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube

They do offer a good set of basic tools for straightforward campaigns on the main social media platforms. In order to help with managing campaigns on the go, they have mobile versions of Sprout Social for iPhone and Android.

In terms of listening for or monitoring your brand terms, they only dish up results from Twitter and Facebook.

However, they also offer a feature called Web Alerts that acts as a way to monitor brand or company mentions from sources other than social media. Sources include blogs, news sites and other content sources.

For a more detailed look at how this works and why it might be valuable for your business, check out the Sprout Social blog.

web alerts

Sprout Social’s Web Alert feature allows brands to track mentions across sources OTHER than social media.

#5: UberVU—Social Media Marketing Redesigned

UberVU is a tool working to provide actionable insights instead of reams of useless data. When compared to other tools, UberVU sources the most social media networks when providing monitoring and listening data.

UberVU

  • Price: $500–$1,000 monthly
  • Platforms supported: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, forums, news

The ever-expanding list of networks they claim to monitor for your keywords include Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Blogger, YouTube and Picasa, with Google+ coming soon.

The lowest-priced plan of $500 monthly includes five streams of data. A stream includes any profiles or accounts you want to manage plus any brand terms you want to monitor.

They suggest “you make a list of your brand names and products, competitors, market terms you’re interested in tracking and all of the Facebook and Twitter accounts you want to manage.”

The basic plan also includes a dedicated account manager, live customer support and free training. They do put a limit on the number of mentions they will monitor per day, 10K for the basic plan and 50K for the professional plan.

A key feature called Signals scans all of the mentions and conversations relevant to your brand in real time and detects dozens of signals like influencer mentions, spikes in volume and sentiment, trending stories and more.

The tool will then attempt to detect and filter actionable information into categories like Review, Reply or Publish and then shoot you an email alert.

signals

UberVU offers the means to monitor, filter and act on relevant conversations from around the web via Signals.

Are you ready to become a monitoring maven?

The tools listed above just scratch the surface of great social media monitoring options. If I had a dime every time a client asked, “Can’t I just get everything into one dashboard?”… I have yet to find a tool that will do that.

What do you think? What social media monitoring tools are you using? Have you found one tool that will do it all? I’d love to hear all about it! Leave your questions and comments in the box below.

Image from iStockPhoto.

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

About the Author, Lisa Peyton

Lisa is a leader in the field of digital marketing. Based in Portland, Oregon, she serves as editor at ThoroughlyModernMarketing.com. Her services include content strategy & social media consulting. Other posts by »




More Info
  • http://www.callboxinc.co.uk/ James Roberts

    Interesting read, Lisa. These monitoring tools, when properly employed, can be a great way to improve your campaign, as well as adjust your lead generation process to meet the challenges of your market.

  • http://elisabethmichaud.com/ Elisabeth Michaud

    Lisa, thanks so much for including uberVU in your article! Wanted to quickly point out that we’ve already released Google+ monitoring (quite a while ago) and posting (here is the blog post with the announcement: http://blog.ubervu.com/ubervu-integrates-google-to-help-marketers-grow-and-engage-their-community.html).

    We’re excited to be a part of this list with some fierce competitors! :-) If you ever have any further questions about uberVU, don’t hesitate to reach out to me: I run our @ubervu account on Twitter as well as our other social platforms.

    Elisabeth
    - Social Media Marketing & Community Manager at uberVU

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Great post Lisa. Media monitoring tools are really necessary if you want to analyze your social reach, engagement, and influence, but most of the tools mentioned seem pricey. Can you recommend a free social monitoring tool aide for Google analytics? Thanks for your answer in advance!

    Have an awesome Thursday everyone!

    ~John Lee Dumas

  • Pingback: 5 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Simplify Your Marketing | Social Media / SEO / Mobile / Digital Marketing News

  • Pingback: search engine optimization | 5 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Simplify Your Marketing + MORE 03/28/2013 | Free SEO Training

  • http://www.vongehrconsulting.com/ Erroin Martin

    Lisa, good article and great mention of resources. The one question I would have is what is the threshold of followers should a company have to move from a free service like Google to the paid services you have mentioned?

  • Dara Khajavi

    Great post. I am definitely going to need these 5 tools. I am really trying to build my social media. These tools will definitely help.

  • Lara Fabans

    I think sales conversions is ultimately the most important metric for most companies even though I think engagement is just as valuable to build up the know/like/trust factors. Still, my clients want to know that what I’m doing for them leads to more sales so they can justify paying me :-)

  • http://twitter.com/ChrisBridgett Chris Bridgett

    Sprout Social hasn’t had the web alert feature for a few months. Still the best on the market though !

  • Leah Mackey Schultz

    WOW. No mention of Radian6 / MarketingCloud? Really missed the mark on this one, SME…

  • http://www.c4compete.com/ Chloe Forbes-Kindlen

    Great Post Lisa! I would say it does speak to the larger enterprise. Social Media Monitoring is so important but the price-tag on some of these tools are way out of the reach for small or medium-sized businesses.

  • http://www.neverstopmarketing.com jer979

    I’m clearly biased, since I’m VP/Marketing of Sprinklr (full disclosure),

    Regardless, while I believe we have the best solution for large enterprises, to fully educate the market about solutions, it is critical to divide any list into those oriented for large enterprises like Sprinklr, Salesforce (as Leah mentions), or Adobe, and those primarily built for SMBs like HootSuite, etc.

    Once you make that differentiation, the more comprehensive your analysis, the better, to help companies (and individuals/SMB’s) make the right decision. Limiting to 5 and not mentioning some of the leaders (Sprinklr was ranked #1 for large enterprises by Altimeter, for example) is a disservice in my (admittedly biased) opinion.

    Lisa–I can tell you are committed to helping your readers, so if you’d like a platform tour, I am more than happy to arrange it.

  • lisapeyton

    Thanks so much for the great feedback. I should have made it clear that this was in NO WAY a comprehensive list of the tools out there. Instead a round-up of tools on my radar. Please feel free to share other tool recommendations here.

  • lisapeyton

    Thanks for the feedback. It’s funny as I have been working with the folks at Radian6 over the last few weeks, unfortunately AFTER I submitted this post. They have a great product and I would agree, an enterprise tool to consider.

  • http://www.neverstopmarketing.com jer979

    I suppose I’ve already made my recommendation ;-)

    Offer for personal tour of Sprinklr platform still stands. VIP…comes w/champagne and everything (champagne and everything not included) ;-)

  • lisapeyton

    Thanks for that update Chris!

  • lisapeyton

    Interesting question – I’m not sure there is a number or threshold. If you’re goal is to increase reach and increase followers, a monitoring tool can help. :-)

  • lisapeyton

    Great question! GA has some of the BEST social monitoring capabilities out there. I wrote a post on the THEN new GA Social Reports for SME. Perhaps search for that post.

  • lisapeyton

    Awesome, thanks for the news Elisabeth!

  • Jeffrey Thompson

    Very good info.

  • http://sproutsocial.com/ Brit at Sprout Social

    Appreciate you including Sprout Social in the list, Lisa! Thank you so much. As Chris mentioned, we no longer have the web alerts feature (most users connect Google Alerts to Sprout Reader to track web mentions). I also wanted to note that Sprout does not support YouTube at this time, but we do integrate with Google Analytics, Zendesk, and UserVoice. Thanks again!

  • http://blog.digitalinsights.in/ Omkar Mishra

    Agree with your point..There is no tool as yet that can integrate Social Analytics + Web Analytics + Social Monitoring in to one..But with Social Media expanding, it hink we can hope for one in the near future..:)

  • http://todlock.com/ Tod Lock

    Given some of these price points, I’m obviously in the wrong business!

  • Pingback: 5 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Simplify Your Marketing | Social Media Examiner | Sharp Search Technologies

  • Pingback: lead generation | Building the B2B Social Media Machine with Adriel Sanchez and Jasmine Sandler at #SESNY + MORE 03/28/2013 | Search Engine Optimization

  • FrancesCaballo

    I use SocialOomph and I love it. But I’m going to keep a copy of this article for future reference.

  • http://felixpov.com/ Marie Felix

    Great round-up Lisa! A price range to fit every budget.

  • http://www.silverpromo.com/ Jessi Linh

    Very informative stuffs!!! Cant wait to try one of them. thanks Lisa.

  • Vivek G Maudgalya

    Hey thanks for sharing. I was looking for this from couple of weeks. I am just looking for monitoring feeds and download them. Can I have that in any of these products ?

  • http://www.EntrepreneurOnFire.com/ John Lee Dumas

    Will do! Thanks Lisa.

  • Pingback: 5 Social Media Monitoring Tools to Simplify Your Marketing | Social … – Hire 4 Me

  • Judy Haar

    Very good information. You are my favorite site. Your articles are timely and helpful.

  • http://www.jabbrag.com/ nickie snyder

    Hi,
    thanks for the post. I would like to add more tools: 1) mediafunnel ; 2)
    virtue; 3) sprinklr; 4) janrain; 5) sprout social.

  • Pingback: Track Your Social Media Marketing With These 5 Tools

  • Pingback: Using Social Media Monitoring Tools for Marketing Success

  • Pingback: How To Improve Your Social Media Marketing | Tips, Strategies, & Tools

  • http://flavors.me/40deuce 40deuce

    Thanks so much for highlighting Sysomos here, Lisa! We really appreciate it!

    Cheers,
    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos and Marketwire

  • http://www.leadsandappointments.com/ Anika Davis

    Agreeable thoughts here. This tools can improve to a better performance. Simple idea of using social media monitoring tools, but ones that have a lot potential when followed. With these, it will be able to embrace new technologies and development.

  • http://kevinklau.com/ Kevin Lau

    When I was working at Google, we used Sysomos to track data and metrics. It’s not perfect but it does provide some really good historical data. Although we found the price listed here is much less than what it actually costs.

  • http://about.me/sookieshuen Sookie Shuen

    Thanks Lisa for the comprehensive list! Any idea if ViralHeat allows postings or even scheduling posts to Twitter, Google+ and Pinterest? Or is it simply an analytics tool? Do you think it’s essential for a social media management tool to have a scheduling tool with an indepth analytics report?

  • shaycw

    I had the same thought Tod. I think we need to get in the social media monitoring tool business for enterprises.

  • http://twitter.com/webbline Mac

    Thanks for sharing. Social media is needed worth the jump and without the assistance of these tools, social media interaction would be cumbersome and difficult.

  • don rua

    Great content and insights, Lisa. SocialMediaExaminer is one of my favorite sources, repeatedly knocking it out of the park.

  • Pingback: Social Media Tools for Work & Self Promotion | justinerem

  • Pingback: How to Use Social Media Listening to Generate More Customers for Your Tour Business - Sightsee - Tour Operator Software

  • Guest

    These are really good tools for using socialmedia but the prices put on this sort of technology is making it to where only businesses or really successful bloggers are able to track their progress. I hope as technology moves forward we are able to make this sort of tool more accessible to the smaller bloggers.

  • Pingback: What I Have Read This Month – April 2013 - Matthew Woodward

  • http://www.fissionlink.com/ Gail Monique Mallo

    measuring progress also serves an inspiration to do better with social media marketing efforts.

  • Olga Filonchuk

    Thanks for this overview! You made me re-think my social media tool kit once again.
    I have heard a lot about Sprout, but they do not support too many social networks. I am more interested in G+ due to its SEO benefits but Spredfast and Viralheat are too expensive for my budget. HootSuite and BuzzBundle are more cost-effective. HottSuite is awesome, but supports only brand pages, while BuzzBundle lets you manage both personal and brand pages.

  • Pingback: Weekly favorites (Apr 29-May 5) | Adventures in Freelance Translation

  • Pingback: Ronn Torossian’s Guide to PR in the Modern Age |5WPR

  • Stanley

    Hi Lisa, it’s one of the best-structured reviews I’ve seen on the web. I concur that you do have to start with writing down your social media monitoring goals, the features you need, the social networks you want to have supported and the metrics you might be interested looking into.

    I also think that if you’re just at the beginning stage, it’s worth starting with what is available for free – both to save the money and to look around to understand what features to look for.

    Google Alerts are quite helpful for social listening. Google Analytics Social reporting is really insightful to see which network in particular works best for your niche.

    Thank you also for providing the pricing for the enterprise-level tools like UberVU and Spredfast, it’s usually available via a sales quote only. I believe they’re still overpriced – I don’t see much in their features that can justify up to a thousand dollars per month, but perhaps it’s just that my social media needs are more of pro rather than enterprise type.

    I used to be on ViralHeat, which is great form the clean UI stanpoint, but I switched to Buzzbundle (http://www.link-assistant.com/buzzbundle/) because of its social listening capabilities. I’ve never seen the suggested social streams to be that clean of fluff, and I’m to stay with Buzzbundle for that feature alone.

  • http://elisabethmichaud.com/ Elisabeth Michaud

    Stanley, I’m sorry to hear you don’t find much value in enterprise-level tools like (my company’s product) uberVU. Happy to give you a chance to check it out sometime – maybe we can get you to change your tune? :-)

    If you’re interested in learning more about it, don’t hesitate to reach out to me at elisabeth at uberVU dot com and we’ll get you set up on a demo.

    - Elisabeth, Community Manager at uberVU

  • Stanley

    Hi Elisabeth! Wow that’s incredible support indeed!

    If I may explain, I didn’t mean enterprise-level tools like your product, uberVU, have little value. It’s that they are too pricey for the products I’ve been involved into so far. And the request-demo process seems too daunting for me. Thank you for the help you offered anyway.

    ~Stan

  • http://elisabethmichaud.com/ Elisabeth Michaud

    Any time, Stan! Let me know if you change your mind or have any other questions :-)

  • http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/author/jannette/ Jannette Pazer

    Lisa, good points in your post. Note that one of the key factors we found in evaluating and using social media monitoring tools was whether the user interface to build the search query was adequate enough to monitor specifically what we wanted to monitor, along with the many variations in ways that a brand name could be represented (spelling, abbreviations, nicknames, etc.). After getting used to building complex Boolean queries in Brandwatch, which we use here at Dragonsearch, I evaluated many other tools and found they couldn’t handle basic search operators like parentheses, word proximity, wildcards and more. If you can’t pinpoint the data you’re bringing in, you’ll waste a lot of time combing through irrelevant results and your analysis will be skewed from unwanted junk. It inspired me to write a white paper, The Importance of the Boolean Search Query in Social Media Monitoring Tools, where I discuss why to monitor, what to monitor, an explanation of Boolean operators, how to construct a complex query, other operators and filters some tools offer, and other features to consider in social media monitoring tools. It’s quite comprehensive and I hope you and your readers will find it helpful when evaluating tools. The whitepaper is here: http://www.dragonsearchmarketing.com/social-media-monitoring-tools-query-white-paper/

  • John O’Riordain

    Thanks, Lisa. Yet, I believe that some of the key players are missing from the list, e.g. BuzzBundle, etc. Maybe you’d find time to do a comparison of such all-in-one packages?) I’d love to read that one!

  • http://www.oktopost.com/ Ben Green

    Hey Lisa, I am trying to find a listening tool for LinkedIn. Is there a Tweetdeck for LinkedIn or something like it?

    Thanks!

  • Landon

    Hi Lisa, thanks for the helpful post!

    What tool(s) are best for backward-looking measurements? Specifically, how can I count the number of times a brand was mentioned in a one-year period? My goal is to measure the overall buzz around a brand and compare it with the buzz around comparable brands. (If I could apply a filter to just see “positive” buzz, that would be nice too.)

    Thanks!

  • Pingback: Social Media Monitoring

  • http://www.makingthemostofme.blogspot.com Tessa

    Great content

  • Pingback: Time-Saving Tips To Build And Maintain An Online Brand







Check out the Social Media Marketing Podcast!
Join our Social Media Marketing Networking Club
Download the free Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Get Your FREE Copy of the 2014 Social Media Marketing Industry Report

Wondering how your peers are using social media? Get this free report (50 pages, 80+ charts) and never miss another great article from Social Media Examiner.