As Published in iMedia Connection: Top 10 Analytics Tools for Social Media

Free or low cost: Beevolve

The free and low-cost applications included below and on subsequent pages obviously do not have the same power and functionality as the paid tools I've mentioned.

But for those on a tighter budget or with few resources, one of these might just do the trick. While the options below are not full social media monitoring systems, they can get you started on monitoring your presence in social media.

Beevolve
Beevolve is a professional-looking and extremely cost-effective alternative to the paid applications mentioned above. Starting at $29.99 per month (for three search terms) and $99.95 per month (for 12 search terms), companies can get a lot of the same features, tracking, monitoring, and analysis, including:

  • Broad coverage on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, blogs, traditional news publications, and the real-time web
  • Real-time monitoring that gives updates as they are happening on the web
  • Sentiment analysis that gives you an automated evaluation of tone of conversations
  • Competitive analytics that compare key metrics against the competition
  • Demographics and geography capabilities that slice and dice the conversations by geographic regions, age groups, gender, or interests
  • Engagement workflow that enables you to collaborate with your team members and clients for engagement and to measure your social media ROI

Beevolve appears to be a fairly comprehensive tool that can help you make decisions about creating marketing strategies and developing you product line, as well as measure advertising and PR performance.

ReSearch.ly
ReSearch.ly is a powerful low-cost alternative (with a free 90-day trial period) to the larger, paid platforms. It allows you to search for topics, your brand, competitors, etc., and shows you not only the raw results, but also the results by demographic and sentiment. It delivers the information in easy-to-read charts that can be easily embedded onto blogs and websites.

Most powerful for many marketers is the ability to see search results within communities. For example, you can view a search term "iPad" and see which reporters, which mommy bloggers, which CEOs, etc., are addressing this topic in real time. It will also show you a chart with frequently occurring words related to your search term.

Features include:

  • History, with access to as many as 1,000 days of Twitter conversations
  • Interest graph, which lets you discover the most interconnected community around any keyword
  • Demographics and psychographics that let you filter your results by community, gender, sentiment, and location
  • Degrees of separation in terms of the connections between your brand and industry influencers
  • Share functionality that lets you save and publish your time-stamped ReSearch.ly search with easy-to-use embedded links
Free or low cost: Social Mention, Addict-o-matic, Social.Media.Tracking

Social Mention
Social Mention is a widely used free tool that allows companies to conduct social media searches and analysis, aggregating user-generated content from a variety of sources and turning it into a single stream of information. Using Social Mention, you can track and measure what is being said about your company in more than 100 social media venues. Social Mention operates in a similar manner to Google News Alerts.

While Social Mention's social media search and alerts are popular and allow you to receive instant notifications of conversations happening across platforms, it lacks the real analysis of data that most companies require. Social Mention does have an API that will allow developers to access and integrate social media data into other applications. This would really enhance the product and allow for more detailed analysis.

Other free and low-cost applications to consider:

  • Addict-o-matic: This platform has a good interface and is easy to understand. While it does not offer analytics tools, Addict-o-matic can instantly create a custom page with the latest buzz on any topic. All results are linked to the source. You can customize the page and bookmark it to visit at any time for updates on your search term. Results are shown from a variety of sources, including videos, blogs, news, and social media networks.
  • Social.Media.Tracking: While many of the platforms cover all social media tools, Social Media Tracking is focused on Facebook and offers a very useful tool. Using this product, you can track the performance of Facebook pages in a competitive environment. For no cost, you can compare the performance of your Facebook page to two competitors.
  • Although there are hundreds of applications to try, consider first what your business is willing to invest in order to monitor and measure your social media presence. Then determine your goals and objectives for social media and how they align with your business objectives. Only then should you decide which solutions will be most effective in measuring social media's impact on your goals, culture, and budget.

About the Guest Author: Adam Boyden, president of Conduit, is responsible for the strategic direction, marketing, business development, and U.S. operations for the company. Boyden is an expert in online and Web 2.0 marketing and a well-published author.