Watching your online universe is far too often at the bottom of an entrepreneur’s list. Monitoring tools help make it less daunting.
It’s all well and good to “put yourself out there” and dive into marketing your brand throughout the universe. It’s not so well and good if you don’t pay attention to what happens after you do that. This is where monitoring tools come in.
Monitoring your brand is how you get the information to know your marketing is working! If it IS working, how can you laser-focus it? If it’s NOT… how are you going to fix it? The following free (or nearly free) monitoring tools offer all kinds of different ways to help you know how, when & where your brand is receiving attention, and what you need to do to keep it all working FOR you.
As @JDLasica, at www.SocialBrite.org, pointed out – free monitoring tools are mostly designed for the small business with limited revenue, and small market share. And although there is no financial cost to using them, they do require cost of time and effort by you, or a staff member.
The simplest grandaddy of them all has got to be Google Alerts. Straightforward, no-frills, gets-the-job-done. Sometimes you can find yourself flooded with alerts – that would be an alert to maybe do something! If your topic is “trending” GA will help you stay with the pack.
Twilert – One of many twitter monitoring tools. Very simple to start using – just connect it with your twitter account, add a couple monitoring keys and you’re done! Reports emailed to you daily about the activity on the monitoring keys you entered.
Backtype – Now this is a nifty, light little tool. Simply type in your url and it will show you, in easy-to-read graph format, what your visibility on social media is like. Somewhat like Google Alerts, Backtype scours the internet for your supplied search terms and emails you a report. Slightly more user-friendly interface that Google Alerts.
Social Mention – Another search engine type tool… SM combines some very pretty and interesting stats & numbers in the sidebars with a SERP type list of mentions. Quite useful for the average entrepreneur. If you’re Mashable.com, tho… it kinda blows up.
Tweetdeck – a little more comprehensive than Twilert, Tweetdeck is a desktop application that allows you to monitor and use multiple social media accounts, simultaneously. I use it daily, and find it quite simple and effective. It does have some visual considerations – you can’t see a lot a once (unless maybe I just haven’t figured out how to fix that yet) and it can be overwhelming if you’re monitoring a lot. My favourite feature is that I can tweet and retweet – in real time or on a schedule – from any and all twitter accounts I may have set up. This is an excellent tool if you are managing accounts for clients.
Addict-o-matic – this is a quick and easy pagemaker. Lets you create a webpage on any topic by simply entering the search term then aggregates the content it finds over multiple search engines & sites into one simple, sharable page. Similar in many ways to Paper.li, but not quite as sophisticated. Paper.li allows you to create an automated, subscribable “newspaper” based on up to 5 key elements. Great for personal research, or for pushing your niche out to your waiting public.
Topsy – This one goes a little deeper than simply twitter & facebook updates. According to them, “Topsy is a realtime search engine powered by the Social Web. Unlike traditional web search engines, Topsy indexes and ranks search results based upon the most influential conversations millions of people are having every day about each specific term, topic, page or domain queried.” They provide sidebar graphs and other stats tools that make for some interesting learning, too.
Cadmus – This seems similar to Tweetdeck in someways, in that it helps reduce your workload by learning what it thinks you want to know about your twitverse and condensing it for easier absorption into your brainstream. It’s a browser-based app, unlike tweetdeck, and you seem to be only able to monitor one account, but for the solopreneur doing their own social media, it looks like a pretty valuable time-saver.
If you want to go a little “lower tech” there’s always the good old standby of RSS. Our friends at Social Media Examiner put together a great “how to” article for getting the most of your RSS for free. It’s even illustrated! If you’re more interested in the CONTENT than the DELIVERY system, this may be your preferred monitoring method.
For those who really want to geek out, there are some much more in-depth monitoring tools that cost a little bit. PostRank Analytics, for example, is just $9/m – tho it has recently been acquired by google, so that could change. One thing PostRank does, that makes it worth spending money on, is track actual engagement. Not just what people are saying about you, but what they’re DOING about you – if and how they’re taking action around your product, service, website etc. THAT is useful information.
We’ll get more into paid products, designed for large agencies & corporations who can dedicated entire teams to managing their social media… another day.
We’d love to hear your thoughts & recommendations about other social media and brand monitoring tools. Share your insights below!