Social media monitoring has come a long way in the past 10 years. From free social media monitoring tools to full social search platforms that permit Boolean searches, track back months (or even years) and integrate social analytics and social CRM features, monitoring has boomed into a multi-billion dollar industry.
The most sophisticated platforms offer a full suite of monitoring features with integrated influencer analysis, sentiment grading and multiple on-going searches, enabling brands to monitor their products, competitors and industry keywords 24/7.
The likes of Sysomos and Brandwatch offer comprehensive solutions, but are priced accordingly and charge additional fees based on users, searches or data volume. While they may be worthwhile for larger organisations, what should you use if you’re just getting started? What free social media monitoring tools are available on the market?
Here are nine of the best free social media monitoring tools available…
With four paid plans on offer, the free option is a stripped-down version of Hootsuite’s premium functionality. That said, it should suit most small businesses looking for an introduction to social media monitoring on Twitter. You can only add three of your own social networks on the free plan, but alongside tracking your own channels you can set up multiple keyword searches to enable you to build up a picture of what the digital world is saying about your company, products and competitors on Twitter.
Established in 2008, Klout is well known for its scoring system which measures your social media influence on a scale of 1-100. This feature has been described as a vanity project by some, but comparing your score to the competition can be an interesting benchmarking exercise. You can also view your most influential Tweets and followers.
Arguably the most comprehensive free social media monitoring tool, Social Mention gives you monitoring access to more than 100 social media properties. It rates your influence based on four categories: Strength (number of mentions), Sentiment (positive to negative mentions), Passion (repeat mentions by the same users) and Reach (the number of unique users talking about you). It’s a little raw, but for a first dip into monitoring, worth trying.
Claiming to be the first social media monitoring tool to incorporate Facebook Reactions into their platform, ZoomSphere offers an impressive package, considering it costs nothing. The Czech outfit offers a publishing platform, a complete analytics solution, competitor benchmarking and monitoring of mentions across Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and Google+. The option is there to upgrade to a paid plan to add unlimited users and social profiles to your account, but the free option is a great start.
While not a social media tool in the traditional sense, Boardreader enables you to find out what people are saying about your brand on message-boards. Often overlooked, if you’re in a technical or specialist industry, this could be an important part of your monitoring armoury – a discussion about you on a forum could be as insightful as one on Facebook. You can search by date range, language and by domain, and also set up email alerts on a range of keywords.
Described as ‘the only complete social analytics solution’ by its developers, Simply Measured is a paid-for service but it does offer a really useful range of free tools. There are too many to explore in full here, but you can download reports on your Facebook, Twitter and Instagram users, benchmark your competitors’ Facebook page, analyse the users in your Google+ circles and measure your customer service performance on Twitter. The reports can be downloaded as PDF too, for use in other documents. You’ll need to Tweet to follow Simply Measured for your ‘free’ report, but it’s worth it.
Stretching the definition of a monitoring tool, and limited to Twitter and Instagram, Crowdfire claims it has ‘changed the way people use Twitter’. Apparently used by more than 10 million people since it launched in 2010, this ‘friend-management’ platform enables you to find out who un-followed you, how your posts affect your follower/un-follower stats, and most usefully to find new followers by using a ‘copy followers’ feature (this one is Twitter only).
To unlock Cyfe’s full potential you have to go premium, but the free version is still quite impressive. Its main USP is an all-in-one dashboard that enables you to monitor your business data all on one screen. The social media aspect monitors brand mentions, Twitter follower patterns, Facebook demographics and a whole heap more. From our brief analysis, it’s definitely worth a try.
Twitonomy is just one of dozens of Twitter analytics tools, along with Twazzup, TweetDeck, Twitter Counter and BackTweets, that are all worth a look. Coming with a premium option for $19/month, Twitonomy’s free platform still provides a fairly comprehensive monitoring tool for your Twitter profile. There’s actually little you can’t do: analyse historical data, track followers, search keywords, view your most active users and the potential reach of your Tweets.
The best free social media monitoring tools
It isn’t realistic to say there’s one ‘best’ monitoring tool your business should be using; different platforms will suit different needs. A combination of tools will probably provide the most comprehensive analytics package for those not willing, able or ready to shell out for a premium option.
It’s also worth noting that Facebook, Twitter and even LinkedIn are starting to offer detailed in-platform analytics and, cannily, keeping access to certain insights from the 3rd party tools. We expect this gradual throttling of data made available to 3rd party tools to continue, so for your first port of call, look at the native analytics packages that you already have access to.