Although a lot of brands have successfully taken the plunge into the full-feedback ocean of social media engagement, they are often uncertain of how to best monitor themselves within the space. Seeking help, many turn to vendors who offer “complete social media monitoring solutions” by packaging a number of related services under the label of “social media monitoring.” Although these package deals can be a great option, they also can be pricey and may include services beyond the extent of the brand’s actual needs. Prior to signing up for costly and possibly non-essential services, it is necessary to first determine if more than social media monitoring is desired from a social media monitoring service.
If the goal is just to monitor social media, or see what people are saying about a brand, many free options such as Social Mention exist; if the goal is to monitor and measure social media, or generate metrics over time about a brand, moderately priced services such as Viral Heat exist (for an explanation of the difference between social media monitoring and measurement, read Why You Need to Monitor and Measure Your Brand on Social Media); or, if the goal is to monitor, measure, and engage within a single platform, many higher-priced services such as Nielsen Buzzmetrics exist.
Whatever your needs may be, we have reviewed seven of the top social media monitoring services—from the most basic and inexpensive to the most robust and expensive—and broken them down by several factors.
Benefit: All reporting is done by Nielsen Online
Features: Quarterly or monthly reports
Pros: Total hands-off tool
Cons: Very costly service
Note: Nielsen Buzzmetrics specializes in engagement, measuring and analyzing consumer-generated media (CGM). They offer a suite of products to measure CGM and online word-of-mouth to help companies understand and track consumer buzz, including opinions, preferences, reputation, image, issues, and up-and-coming trends.
Pricing is $40,000/year.
Benefit: Industry leaders
Features: Offers the most complete platform to listen, measure and engage
Pros: Innovative technologies and support team
Cons: Best suited for medium to large sized brands and businesses
Note: Customers can track and engage in ongoing conversations taking place on blogs, videos, forums, social networks and mainstream news sites. Radian6 is currently helping over 10,000 brands track social media sites, including Comcast, MTV, Dell, UPS, GE and Microsoft.
Price starts at $500/month.
Benefit: Offers various levels of monitoring services
Features: Comprehensive analysis providing sentiment, influencer and demographic information which enables targeted marketing activities
Pros: Produces easy-to-understand graphs with a top-line analysis of message delivery and lead topics
Cons: Relatively new company located in Australia
Note: Powerful engagement and workflow features, allows clients to respond to questions and comments on the social web directly from the system.
Pricing is based on the number of concurrent search terms and users.
Benefit: Allows for basic tracking and measurement of any term in social media in real-time
Features: Daily email activity report, basic analysis, and ability to generate excel report from data
Cons: It is only a report so engagement will have to be done manually and non-relevant items may be included in the results
Note: Like Google Alerts, but for social media. It is a good top line tool for tracking key terms in social media.
Pricing is free.
Benefit: Cost for features
Features: Moderate monitoring, measurement, sentiment features; can set up “profiles” to contain many advanced search terms; can identify key influencers by volume and impact
Pros: Good combination of low cost and moderate monitoring/measurement/sentiment features
Cons: All hands-on so set-up, tracking, measurement, and results will need to be done manually
Note: Viral Heat is currently considered one of the best entry-level, paid social media monitoring tools for people that want moderate analysis and features and don’t want to pay top dollar.
Pricing is tiered 3 ways and ranges from basic, at $9.99 a month, to business, at $89.99 a month.
Benefit: Advanced features and team collaboration
Features: Advanced monitoring, measurement, sentiment, reporting, and team collaboration
Pros: Manipulation of great amounts of data; team collaboration allows for workflow assigning and tracking
Cons: Difficult to use for those not familiar with social media monitoring tools; not the best solution for one person monitoring
Note: Scout Labs is a great social media monitoring tool for teams that need advanced features, workflow capabilities, and easy reporting.
Pricing is tiered and begins at $249 a month.
Benefit: Allows for engagement and monitoring directly within one platform
Features: Fully customizable; ability for workflow; ability to post to multiple sites
Pros: Amount of engagement and monitoring features
Cons: Interface is cumbersome due to engagement and monitoring features being fitted within one window; not a good solution for those just wishing to track social media
Note: Although Hootsuite has a lot of different features, they are limited in ability, crammed and often difficult to navigate. This is more geared to people looking to manage a social identity as opposed to a brand.
Pricing is tiered and ranges from free to $99.99 a month.