By Rebecca Canan
If you’re like me, you regularly get hit with social media newsletters, blog posts, and expert proclamations that all declare they’ve found the definitive new social media search engine or analytics tool (e.g., ”13 Essential Social-Media ‘Listening Tools!”). However, when I begin playing around with these “essential” tools, I’m often disappointed either because (1) they miss too much or (2) they pick up too much. This prompts me to ask, “Which free tools are actually worth the time???” Based on conversations with (often frustrated) communicators and CEC’s research, I’ve assessed some of the popular search tools available and provided a quick review of what they can—or can’t—give you.
As context, here are the basic criteria I used when reviewing a monitoring tool:
- Is it actually free? (If the answer is “no”, it didn’t make my list. This happened with a couple tools like Jodange and Filtrbox.)
- How relevant are the results?
- How timely are the results?
- How comprehensive are the results?
- Is the interface easy to use and interpret?
In addition to the popular tools that I reviewed in the table below, I came across these other fun tools:
Qwitter: Sends you a notification when someone stops following you on Twitter – and the last tweet they read that may have turned them off. The site also features “Qwitter Therapy” in case your feelings are hurt when you lose a follower.
Twendz: Mines Twitter for trends, sentiments, and word clouds around specific topics. Like most sentiment analysis (especially analysis provided by free tools), use with caution. Case in point: I randomly did a search on my favorite music site, GrooveShark and looked at the negative posts. #1 on the negative list was this tweet: “Listening to Bad by Michael Jackson on @Grooveshark!” In my opinion, listening to that song is actually quite positive.
Netvibes: Similar to Addict-o-matic – and lets you customize a “dashboard” with an image of your choice on the top.
Of the table below, my personal favorites are Google Alerts (where I can stay informed about my company’s reputation…as well as news about my favorite wine, Brunello di Montalcino), socialmention (since references across social media sources are cleanly listed in one spot), and Twazzup for Twitter (where I can see news, photos, and tweets all at once). What tools do you use? Any favorites?
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