Take the pulse of the social Web by hitting these rich targets
Target audience: Nonprofits, cause organizations, brands, businesses, NGOs, educators, independent publishers, individuals. In this social media monitoring series:
• Guide to monitoring social media conversations
• 10 paid social media monitoring services for nonprofits
• How to build & manage a monitoring dashboard
Free monitoring tools may fill your needs if you work for a small nonprofit or your business has no need for more sophisticated services (coming tomorrow). Just remember: Free monitoring tools aren’t really free — they require an investment of staff time and analysis.
And a word of advice: Don’t begin with the tools. Begin with a strategy — a social media game plan. Think of this as a multi-step process: Listen, learn, engage, act and measure. Listening is only the first step — you need to take action on what you discover. (Socialbrite can help you with an integrated approach to social media.)
Yesterday we covered why monitoring is essential to your organization. Today we’ll look at the wealth of free monitoring tools available to you, divided by functionality.
Here is our Guide to Free Social Media Monitoring Tools. Have your own favorites? Please share in the comments.
Monitor social campaigns
Wildfire: How is your brand performing in social?
1Wildfire, a startup focused on creating interactive promotions on social sites, last month launched Social Media Monitor, a tool that tracks and compares how brands are performing on Facebook and Twitter. Wildfire allows companies, small businesses, marketing agencies, nonprofits and bloggers to create their own branded interactive campaigns — including contests, giveaways, incentive-based surveys and sweepstakes — and to simultaneously publish them in multiple social networks and on their websites. More than 65,000 users have done so. As we understand this, the basic tools are free and Wildfire also sells premium services.
Monitor social networks & blogs
Social Mention: Widgets & social search
2Social Mention is a social media search engine that searches for keywords on social media platforms — including blogs, comments, bookmarks, events, news, videos and microblogging services — and provides metrics around keywords and “sentiment.” It also provides graphic illustrations or charts showing mentions per day or week. Download the free search bar for your browser and monitor anything from your brand to your cause. They also offer APIs and provide coding for your own keyword monitoring widgets.
• Collecta lets you enter any search term to receive real-time results for mentions in social media, in blog comments and on news sites.
Google Reader: Begin with a dashboard
3Social media monitoring begins with a dashboard. (See our Top 10 social media dashboard tools.) A good choice to begin your monitoring is Google Reader: Subscribe to the RSS feeds of top blogs in your sector, competitors’ sites, news sites, Twitter searches and more, all in one place. You can even subscribe to searches on sites like Flickr and YouTube, so you’ll get an update on any new image or video that matches your brand or cause. If the page you’re on doesn’t seem to have an RSS feed, try Feedyes.com. We also like Feed Informer, which lets you splice multiple feeds together into one and filter for duplicates.
BlogPulse: Take the pulse of the blogosphere
4BlogPulse from NM Incite is an automated trend discovery system for blogs that analyzes and reports on daily activity in the blogosphere. You can keep on top of key phrases, top blog posts, videos, key people news sources and more. But its real power lies in the options you have to track blog conversations based on topics or keywords. See which blogs, news posts, etc., are fueling the most conversations about your brand online.
Alltop: Identify the top blogs in your sector
5Alltop, Guy Kawasaki’s online magazine rack – or, more precisely, topic-based directory — lets you search for influential blogs in a given niche or subject. Add the feeds to your RSS reader and you have a more targeted monitoring process. Continue reading