Top 5 Budget Social Media Monitoring Tools

In the run up to Monitoring Social Media 09 I've been checking out some of the free or low-cost social media monitoring solutions. I've been hearing that many...

Viralheat - our favourite low cost solution
Viralheat - our favourite low cost solution

In the run up to Monitoring Social Media 09 I’ve been checking out some of the free or low-cost social media monitoring solutions. I’ve been hearing that many of the top marketing agencies still use free monitoring tools: but which ones? And how do they compare to the high-end paid-for solutions like Visible Technologies, Brandwatch etc? There are lots and lots of these services, but here are thumbnail reviews of 5 of the most best:

SocialMention (Free)

Often described as the social version of Google Alerts, SocialMention offers a really user-friendly interface. In fact, it’s definitely the nicest looking solution and the easiest to use. It provides results from blogs, twitter (microblogs), video, comments, bookmarks, news, events etc.  and sets these out with cross-cutting facts down the side panel showing Sentiment, Top Keywords, Top users and Sources – which tell’s you a lot of useful information at a glance.

The big problem with SocialMention is that you can’t save your searches and come back to them. There is no login/account function – so it’s really just useful for one-off searches. You can download the data and there is a nifty widget that lets you add realtime results to a blog, but what you really want is a private Deshboard to manage your searches. Also – you can’t easily respond to comments – which other services enable.

BrandsEye ($1 month)

BrandsEye is more of an old-school reputation management tool than a social media monitoring service. For just $1 a month (you wonder why they bother for that much), you get a “Blogger” level account that lets you set up 5 searches that you can login and return to view at any time. Results are shown in a rather Web 1.0 list which doesn’t include Twitter or other social media formats (comments, video, audio, presentations etc) and doesn’t enable you to respond within the system. It’s an nice, easy to use, cheap web-monitoring tool – but it’s really no good for social media.

Trackur ($18/month with free trial)

This is one of those services that, thanks to it’s founder, Andy Beal, get’s a lot of online promotion and coverage. It looks great from the outside and is free to sign up for a 14-day trial. Once inside it’s pretty straightforward – there is only one option “add a keyword” to create a search. The results come in a list (like BrandsEye) with Tweets, comments, posts etc. all mixed in – and a little graph showing when activity occurred. You can click into items to rate their sentiment or read the full text. It’s all very basic and obvious – though completely without bells and whistles, at least in the basic account.

Ubervu (Free)

Ubervu is similar to SocialMention but with the critical account functionality that lets you save searches and log in to see them. It brings in a full range of social media data – Tweets, comments, posts, video etc. – and shows responses/retweets in a nice. user-friendly indented way. If you’re logged in (it’s free) you can add your Twitter, Facebook, WordPress etc. account details and reply directly to comments. You can export the data, get a widget for your blog to show results publicly and set up email alerts. On the face of it – it’s a great solution – though we had a few issues with the interface (esp. in Chrome) and some of the default settings (daily mentions) means you often get a negative looking downwards angled graph when you log in.

Viralheat ($9.99/month)

Although nowhere near as user-friendly as SocialMention or easy on the eye as the Ubervu results listings – ViralHeat is a very powerful tool that is probably our favourite budget solution. Once you’ve registered for the basic account, the Dashboard lets you set up 10 profiles. Although its’ a little confusing to navigate around, when you finally open a Profile you get a rich reward: graphs showing activity on Twitter, blogs and Video sites; the number of “authors”; the total reach on Twitter (our twitter reach this week was 51,000)  and who the most influential authors are on Twitter and blogs. You can click down into all this data and export it.

You also get a full listing of activity, with the nationality of the author site, a link to the post, the traffic of the site or full stats of the twitter user (like you get on Tweetdeck) and – a bit weirdly in our view – the ability to email an item to someone else. There is also a basic gauge for sentiment, though as with all less-sophisticated services, this is generally “neutral”.  Overall, Viralheat is a surprisingly powerful service, though they need to add the ability to respond from within the system.

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16 comments

  1. Andy Beal Reply

    Thanks naming Trackur one of the best! We deliberately designed Trackur to be the easiest to use social media monitoring tool.

    We do offer more bells & whistles in our other plans, but at the same time keeping our simplicity.

    Andy

  2. Mark Evans Reply

    For people looking to take the next step up the social media monitoring food chain, check out Sysomos’ Heartbeat service – flexible, robust and cost-effective.

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communcations
    Sysomos Inc.

  3. Tim Shier Reply

    Hi Luke,

    Many thanks for including BrandsEye. Our focus has largely been to provide the best possible solution to the full range of needs – all the way from bloggers (BrandsEye Blogger – $1) through to multinationals (BrandsEye Enterprise Insight – $750). The functionality in a $1 account is relatively limited but fulfils the needs for a small brand or individual.

    Regarding your comment about Twitter – we do track a wide range of social media sites. The trick with social media is to understand and focus the account on how consumers talk about your brand (the way we talk about ourselves is no longer enough) – one needs to track #tags, strange acronyms etc. For example one may search for “oursocialtimes” (which has loads of tweets) rather than “our social times” (which has none) to collect Twitter mentions etc.

    Please will you give that a try and if I’m still wrong I’ll give our engineering team a scolding and you a free $750 account for 3 months 😉

    Thanks again,

    Tim
    Ps: we do also track comments…

    @timshier
    @brandseye

  4. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

    Thanks Andy and Mark – points taken.

    Tim – Thanks for the Twitter pointer. These were thumbnail reviews and we obviously didn’t dig quite deep enough! That said, it wasn’t obvious that you track Twitter. You might want to add some pointers (or logos) for the uninitiated.

  5. dave Reply

    Love good informatics. Also, Spiral16 looks like a great tool for visualizing conversations, if you’ve got a client that likes to SEE how this whole social media “thing” works.

  6. Jim Reynolds Reply

    Luke,
    Great write up and article on social media monitoring on a budget.

    You may want to include SM2’s freemium service on the next pass.

    http://sm2.techrigy.com

    Jim Reynolds
    Business Development
    Alterian (Formerly Techrigy)
    twitter.com/jimmyrey

  7. Recent Links at Fast Wonder: Online Community Consulting Reply

    […] Top 5 Budget Social Media Monitoring Tools […]

  8. Urs E. Gattiker Reply

    Nice write up and article on social media monitoring.

    You may want to include comMetric’s freemium service on the next pass.

    http://My.ComMetrics.com

    Monitor blogs – watch the trends – benchmark your performance

    Thanks

    Regards
    Urs
    @comMetrics

    PS. where is the 2010 conference, maybe we could present 🙂

  9. robwatts Reply

    Hi Luke you might be interested in the link in my signature. More on what it’s about here too.

    http://www.yackyack.co.uk/social-media/social-monitoring-and-response-tool-yacksocial/

    Cheers

    Rob

  10. Top 10 Social Media Monitoring Tools and Social Media Monitoring Tools Review | Murray Newlands - Marketing Blog Reply

    […] Top 10 Social Media Monitoring Tools and Social Media Monitoring Tools Review […]

  11. Social Website Analyzer Reply

    Hi all,

    Could you please review my new social media monitoring tool. I have just released the first BETA version of this free social media monitoring service. This free SMM / SEO tool will crawl the top 20 social media websites for your URL exposure and will make an online profile. Although I hope you just want to review it, it could be good for SEO too as it contains a backlink to your website .

    Please testdrive it yourself at http://www.socialwebsiteanalyzer.com

    Thanks in advance and please reply me your thoughts on this,

    Erwin

  12. web20typ_ – Meine Bookmarks vom 1. March bis 3. March Reply

    […] Top 5 Budget Social Media Monitoring Tools | Our Social Times – I’ve been hearing that many of the top marketing agencies still use free monitoring tools: but which ones? And how do they compare to the high-end paid-for solutions like Visible Technologies, Brandwatch etc? There are lots and lots of these services, but here are thumbnail reviews of 5 of the most best: monitoring socialmedia tracking […]

  13. Maria Ogneva Reply

    Luke, great list! If you aren’t familiar with Biz360, I’d love to walk you through it. It’s very easy to use, and although it’s not free, it is one of the lower priced solutions in the market (we do have a freemium version in the works).

    Ping me anytime!

    Maria, Biz360
    @themaria @biz360

  14. Tracie Reply

    I love the radian6 product. Is there an equivalent product, but at a much lower cost? I need a product that tracks as they do, and has a fantastic user interface and client reporting features – displays and graphs / analytics.

  15. Luke Brynley-Jones Reply

    I would probably recommend ViralHeat or Ubervu. They looks to be the most sophisticated low-cost solutions on the market. Bear in mind you generally get what you pay for in terms of data quality and filtering.

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