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A new calendar year is a great time to perform a social media audit – to check in and ensure your brand goals are on track. Which tools are best for assessing your social performance? It depends on where you are in your social analytics journey, and what you need to audit.

Of course, everything your brand does can be impacted by social insights. If sales are up or down, social data – i.e., consumers talking to you on social media – tells you why. How are you doing with customer care? Look to social for answers. What do consumers want from brands in your category moving forward? Listening to what they tell your competitors as well as yourself sets you up to give them what they want!

A social media audit, then, is about seeing how the insights you uncovered in the past quarter or year were applied – and the outcome of those actions. If you like your progress, keep doing what you’re doing. If you don’t, maybe you need to look a little deeper, or employ more comprehensive tools.

Here’s a quick refresher of areas to analyze to recalibrate your brand for the coming year, along with tools that will give you the data you need. These 18 tools have something to offer brands at all levels, but if you’re focused on a particular area, click the sections below to skip right to those tools:

And now… the list of tools!

Where Is the Love? – 3 Tools That Measure Sentiment

Without sentiment, you don’t really know how to prioritize social audiences – and you need to. From understanding consumers interests and behaviors, to finding influencers and identifying threats, sentiment is your North Star. Here are three tools that prioritize sentiment:

1. NetBase

Sentiment is at the heart of our tool – because without it you have no way of understanding anything about what consumers share on social. From audience segmentation, emerging trends and influencers to customer service issues and reputational threats, sentiment is your compass as well as your context. See data visually, track sentiment in real-time, see how you rank against competitors, and more. Our platform can handle all your social auditing needs.

Price: Get in touch for custom pricing

2. Critical Mention

Screencap from the Critical Mention website

Screencap from the Critical Mention website

Automation, mobile sharing, and real-time data access are nice features for this tool – in addition to sentiment monitoring, which is crucial to understanding context of social posts. Visual monitoring via “density maps” and word clouds make it easy to spot emotional extremes you need to act on.

Price: Get in touch for custom pricing

3. Simply Measured

screencap from the Simply Measured website

Screencap from the Simply Measured website

Access to sentiment, volume, and reach of social conversations lets you know where to focus your efforts. Triage customer service issues based on negative sentiment, and find potential influencers based on positive. Or reveal conversational themes you can use to engage consumers. Whatever they’re passionate about, that’s what you want to talk to them about.

Price: Request a demo

Where Is Your Audience? – 3 Tools to Assess Your Best Channels

Knowing where to engage your audience is a key part of the equation – and you should never assume you know where that is. You can use built-in analytics to assess your performance on the channels you use – like Facebook Insights and Twitter Analytics – but that only tells you how you’re doing on those specific channels.

To compare performance from channel to channel, and to find new audiences on channels you may not have considered, you need more robust social analytics tools. Here are a few to consider:

4. Followerwonk

Screencap from the Followerwonk website

Screencap from the Followerwonk website

Followerwonk lets you search bios, compare users, and track followers on Twitter – so you can find the most influential people in your audience. You can view social authority rankings, maximize tweet times, and see what tweets are most engaging. You’re limited to insights about Twitter, but if this is a major channel for your brand, this tool could be worthwhile.

Price: From free to $79/month

5. HowSociable

Screencap from the HowSociable website

Screencap from the HowSociable website

With search engine simplicity, HowSociable turns up a Magnitude Score on your brand (or any other), revealing engagement across a number of social platforms so you know where your fans are. You can see 12 metrics with a free account, or 36 with a paid subscription. The great thing about this tool is its range. Instead of stopping at the most popular social networks, it looks at a number of less obvious social apps, blog, and review sites as well.

Price: Starts at $9 per 3 months

6. Mention

Screencap from the Mention website

Screencap from the Mention website

Just as its name suggests, Mention alerts you to mentions of your brand across the Web and social channels – which is a great way to find out where undiscovered audiences are lurking. Of course you can also use this information to find out about competitor mentions, and they have other features for monitoring brand health to round out the tool.

Price: Starts at $29/month to custom pricing for enterprises

Content Is Still King – 3 Tools That Offer Keys to the Kingdom

Once you understand what consumers care about, you’ve got to learn how they want to talk about those things. Is video their favorite medium? Or do funny memes really get them going? Would they rather an educational infographic? These are the questions content analysis answers, and these are some tools that provide them:

7. Curalate

Screencap from the Curalate website

Screencap from the Curalate website

Content that doesn’t convert isn’t really doing its job, so Curalate ensures your content gets results. The platform uses brand images and videos, as well as those of fans and influencers, to lower bounce rates and increase conversions through social content across channels. Curalate uses machine learning to find content that is contextually relevant. Which is great – but you may not know why, making replication a challenge. On the plus side, it does integrate with other business tools.

Price: Contact Sales

8. Oktopost

Screencap from the Oktopost website

Screencap from the Oktopost website

Publish content and analyze from one convenient dashboard with Oktopost. Their built-in curation engine shows you content that will engage your audience, or increase your credibility as a thought leader. Customer care and social advocacy tools round out the package.

Price: Request a demo

9. Rignite

Screencap from the Rignite website

Screencap from the Rignite website

When you post content through Rignite, you can track insights like Top Posts and Summary by Social Network. You can also run campaigns to view specific insights, and tag posts with categories like Educational, Promotional, Blog, Events, Sales, etc. to see what mix of posts works best for your audience.

Price: Starts at $28/month per user to custom quote for enterprises

Forecasting Future Trends – 3 Tools That Track Short- And Long-Term Trends

There’s nothing worse than being the last one to know something. That’s why there are tools to help you track trends as they emerge – so you never have to be out of the loop. Here are three of them:

10. Spredfast

Screencap from the Spredfast website

Screencap from the Spredfast website

It’s important to be aware of trends in time to act on them – whether that’s jumping onto a short-term trend (like a hashtag during an awards show), or something longer term (like VR capability). Spredfast lets you monitor data in real-time so you’re aware of trends as they happen and progress. That way you can act when you need to, and beat competitors instead of letting them beat you.

Price: Request a demo

11. Tailwind

Screencap from the Tailwind website

Screencap from the Tailwind website

A trend toward visual marketing makes Instagram and Pinterest valuable platforms for brands – so that’s where Tailwind focuses its offerings. Track top keywords, hashtags, and trending topics to discover what consumers are obsessed with right now – and what might explode in the near future. You can connect right to Instagram influencers from the dashboard, making this an easy tool to put into action.

Price: Request a demo

12. Trendspottr

Screencap from the Trendspottr website

Screencap from the Trendspottr website

The reason trend monitoring is so crucial is because once a trend breaks – meaning everyone is reacting to it – it’s too late. At that point you’re competing with everyone else to put data into action. Trendspottr understands this, and uses predictive analysis to offer emerging trend information from news, events, memes, crises, influencers, and more. That way you’re ahead of the curve, where you need to be.

Price: Request a demo

How Do You Measure Up? – 3 Competitive Analysis Tools to Keep You on Your Game

Making sure you aren’t overtaken by competitors means knowing what they’re up to at all times – and how consumers are receiving their efforts. These tools show you how you rate against other brands in your category:

13. Kompyte

Screencap from the Kompyte website

Screencap from the Kompyte website

Kompyte has a number of competitor alerts to keep you up-to-date on things like price changes, promotions, and new product releases – all the things you want to know about in the moment. You can also track competitors’ AdWords campaigns, and find unique keywords no one else is using. This is in addition to identifying hot topics on social channels, and which are doing well for the competition.

Price: Start with a free trial and upgrade based on your needs

14. MWP

YouTube is a channel often neglected by less comprehensive social analytics tools. For brands on a budget needing YouTube insights there’s MWP. MWP lets you compare up to 10 YouTube channels to show you where you rank against competitors. Click “Get the Details” to see overall channel and video stats, as well as information on the most popular video for each channel. It doesn’t help you with overall competitor analysis, but if YouTube is a big part of your marketing, this is a tool worth checking out.

Price: Compare 10 channels against yours for free; contact for video strategy and other services

15. Rival IQ

Screencap from the Rival IQ website

Screencap from the Rival IQ website

Rival IQ lets you set benchmarks and compare yourself to your competitors, highlighting progress by measuring against past results. You can see when competing brands have boosted posts, and analyze consumer reactions to gain an understanding of how boosting impacts engagement. Then take action yourself, copying posts, engaging consumers, or focusing more attention on a specific competitive area. Finally, this tool lets you incorporate SEO into your analysis – to track keyword rankings, Domain Authority, external links, and which organic keywords your competitors aren’t using. You can even track PPC to find out where competing brands are spending money on keywords.

Price: Starts at $199 per month

How Safe Is Your Brand? – 3 Crisis Management Tools for Brand Health

Your brand is only as safe as your awareness – meaning, the moment you let a vocal complaint go unchallenged is the moment that complaint goes viral. You have to know when consumers are unhappy – and manage their unhappiness right away. These tools keep you alerted to potential problems:

16. Digimind

Screencap from the Digimind website

Screencap from the Digimind website

As part of a full suite of social analytics tools, Digimind’s Top Reputation module offers brands a look at their perception online. This works with Google search data to tell you where you stand with consumers and against competitors. Combined with social listening and sentiment analysis, you’ll always know what your audience thinks of you and your products.

Price: Contact for custom quote

17. Nuvi

Screencap from the Nuvi website

Screencap from the Nuvi website

Nuvi offers real-time social listening and engagement, so you can respond quickly in the early stages – before a crisis blows up. Monitor unlimited keywords, track sentiment and conversations in real-time, and set alerts to notify you of sudden upticks in mentions or negative sentiment, so you have time to act.

Price: Request a demo

18. Talkwalker

Screencap from the Talkwalker website

Screencap from the Talkwalker website

As Talkwalker’s website notes, “Your reputation is everything.” So they offer real-time monitoring of social channels in 187 languages to understand consumer opinion of your campaigns, products, events, earnings calls, and brands. Their analytics extend to print and TV/radio as well.

Price: Request a demo

A comprehensive picture needs comprehensive tools

It’s clear there are a lot of areas to approach when conducting a social media audit – and the tools above will help, but some of them have too narrow a focus.

It might seem like content is all you need to look at – but you can’t understand the content that matters if you don’t know what topics appeal to your audience. And you can’t fully understand topics of preference without sentiment analysis. Meanwhile, it doesn’t help to know which channels your audience is using if you don’t know what will engage them.

Each area leads into the next and requires information from the previous – that’s why you need comprehensive social analytics tools that do everything you need, without being cluttered by things you don’t.

Beware the tool bragging about unlimited historical data, for example. Yes, it’s important to analyze historical data as well as the data coming in real time – but you don’t have to go back farther than a year or two to understand your brand’s trajectory, or how your audience has changed.

What you want is accurate insights covering all aspects of your brand – so you can move forward confidently when your audit is complete. Otherwise, there’s no point in performing one.

Time for a social media audit? Reach out to see how our suite of tools can power your operations.

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