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July 2017 Update: We’ve gone through and updated our list of social media monitoring tools for 2017. Check it out below.

No matter the job, having the right tools is important. Could you bang in a nail with a wrench? Probably – but not as effectively as when you use a hammer.

Though most brands likely have some type of social analytics software, social monitoring is bit of a different animal. There are several tools to choose from, so we’ve compiled a list of great options for brands and agencies of all sizes below.

But first, let’s take a moment to define social media monitoring, since it’s often confused with other terms. (Experts, feel free to skip directly to the tools section.)

WHAT IS SOCIAL MEDIA MONITORING?

How does social media monitoring stand apart from close cousins social media listening and social media analytics?

At NetBase, we define social media analytics as gathering data from social media platforms and online content to guide business decisions. It’s more about breaking down the data itself – while social listening is the process of surfacing social feeds for consumer insights to analyze for the sake of connecting.

Social media monitoring is similar, but adds a layer of vigilance, as brand health is reliant on awareness of all that’s happening in the social realm – early enough to take action. Social monitoring protects brands from three very real threats:

  1. Viral trolling.
    From employee misconduct to competitor foul play, once a post goes viral, there’s no putting the genie back in the bottle. You’ve got to be alerted at the first sign of trouble to effectively combat this type of threat.
  1. Logo misappropriation.
    It’s not just text you have to be aware of. Your very brand identity is at stake if your logo is hijacked for someone’s nefarious agenda. You need a tool that can identify your logo – and any variations – in images shared on social.
  1. Disgruntled customers.
    As bad as the haters can be, there’s no voice as powerful as that of a customer who’s had a bad experience. Random haters can be dismissed by those who like your brand – but ignoring a customer with a complaint shows your entire audience that you don’t care about the people creating your profits. The faster consumer issues are managed, the better – meaning, you need to know about them immediately.

Reputational damage is hard to come back from, making social monitoring perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle. If you don’t already have a social monitoring tool in your arsenal, one of the tools below will surely suit your needs – no matter your size or budget.

SECTIONS IN THIS ARTICLE

Without further ado, we present our list of social media monitoring tools. Please jump to your preferred section with the links below or start scrolling through the entire list.

Section 1 – 5 Free Tools for Brands on a Budget
Section 2 – 14 Paid Tools for Brands with a Little More to Spend
Section 3 – Platform-specific Tools

5 Free Tools for Brands on a Budget

Even if you can’t afford a tool with every bell or whistle, there are free options out there for keeping your brand safe while you surface for insights. Here are 5 to try:

1. Google Alerts

Small teams and those new to the social monitoring world can still rely on Google Alerts to inform on keyword/topic mentions via daily emails. Set up multiple alerts for your own brand mentions, competitor mentions, keywords and topics – and receive notifications as they happen, once a day, or once a week depending on your needs. Pro: It’s super easy. Con: If there’s a problem, by the time your brand name hits the mainstream media, it’s too late. Still, it’s better than nothing.

Price: Free

2. Social Mention

With search engine ease, Social Mention displays user-generated content from more than 100 social media “properties” in real-time based on your keywords, so you know what consumers are saying about you online. View sentiment, top keywords, and reach for your brand or your competitors – and filter to see blogs, microblogs, images, videos and bookmarks individually. Searches don’t save, but it’s easy enough to recreate anytime you want to see the latest.

Price: Free – contact Social Mention for commercial use of their API for integration of social data with other applications

3. Hootsuite

Screencap from Hootsuite website

Though Hootsuite is a familiar social scheduling tool, it also offers multiple levels of social analytics for any budget. The free version offers small businesses and individuals the opportunity to monitor social conversations by setting up custom content streams, or searching by keyword or location – for one user and 3 social profiles. Additional add-on monitoring apps let you “do everything from reviewing site ratings to tracking the tone of voice being used for your brand.” Larger brands can go further with one of Hootsuite’s more advanced plans.

Price: From free to custom quote

4. HowSociable

If you want to explore a more eclectic mix of platforms than the major players, HowSociable‘s free option shows you how your brand is faring on 12 social networks – like Reddit, StumbleUpon, and Foursquare – for the past week, in addition to more mainstream platforms like YouTube, LinkedIn and Tumblr. How Sociable calculates Brand Magnitude on a scale of 0-10 using keywords – which gives you a quick overview of how you’re doing across the board, and per platform, even if it doesn’t tell you why. To access a total of 36 platforms, compare multiple keywords, and view top mentions and top pages, you’ve got to pay.

Price: Free to $99 USD annually, includes 3 weeks of historical data; data back to the first day a new brand was tracked is an add-on

5. Klout

Though typically known for its self-named score indicating Web influence, Klout is also a great tool – even at the free level – for sourcing ideal content to impact your level of influence. The site suggests content to share based on your expertise level – as determined by social users – and teaches you what content is valuable to your audience. Your Klout score is directly impacted by what you share on social. Improve it by responding to your followers’ needs.

Price: Free; upgrade to more advanced options through their partnership with Lithium

14 Paid Tools for Brands with a Little More to Spend

For larger brands, or those who’ve outgrown the free options above, these tools provide social monitoring – plus a little more:

6. Buzzsumo

Buzzsumo‘s free trial is limited, but gives you a great look at the potential. Search on keyword activity within the past 24 hours, or up to the past five years to see engagement metrics on content featuring your keywords. Or create trending feeds to know when your topics of choice are in the social spotlight, find out who’s backlinking to your content, and more. You can even narrow content type down between options like “infographic” and “guest posts,” etc, or search for “in-depth articles only” – or set an alert to know when new info crops up for specific topics, which is crucial for tracking negative brand mentions.

Price: Free 14-day trial, then $79 to $559 USD per month

7. Digimind

Screencap from Digimind video

See how you rank against competitors, or even specific products, using keywords with Digimind. The tool indicates brand sentiment as positive, neutral, or negative. Other features, like the Top Reputation feature, let users understand the concepts, discussions and emerging trends relevant to maintaining brand health.

Price: Contact Digimind for a customized quote

8. Mention

Focusing on exactly what you’d think, Mention reports mentions of your brand online, or alerts you about specific keywords you choose to track – from social and news sources, blogs and forums. You can respond to mentions directly within its app, making life easier, and expand your plan to include analytics, sentiment, influencer outreach, and more.

Price: Free 2-week trial, then $29 USD monthly to custom pricing for enterprises

9. NetBase

Real-time alerts, including logo recognition, keep you apprised of potential reputational threats, but that’s just a fraction of what NetBase’s social monitoring tools can do. Audience segmenting and targeting, and competitive intelligence, are also on offer, as well as sophisticated sentiment analysis capabilities that understand slanguage, sarcasm, and emojis in addition to 42 languages out of the box. There’s also an easy-as-Google Instant Search toolbar for quick insights your entire team can access and understand.

Price: Request a free demo and customized quote

10. Oktopost

Screencap from the Oktopost website

For those in the B2B realm, Oktopost lets you manage and schedule social posts, track lead generation, curate content, and more. Create streams for live tracking of keywords, mentions, company pages, etc. And your entire team can have the access you choose, while you manage them from one central platform.

Price: Contact Oktopost for a customized quote

11. Talkwalker

Screencap from the Talkwalker website

Talkwalker‘s comprehensive platform includes Crisis Tracking – with automatic email alerts – so you can catch issues early. Track negative sentiment and use the “virality map” to prevent a crisis from emerging. Analyze online, social, print, TV and radio content across owned and earned media in 197 languages, in real-time, with two years of historical data available.

Price: Starts at $8400 USD annually and up

12. Trackur

trackur

Trackur monitors social feeds like Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and more, as well as mainstream news, blogs, forums, images and videos in “almost real-time.” Influence and sentiment metrics show you where potential problems may exist – as well as social users suited to help you solve them.

Price: 10-day free trial, then $97 to $447 USD monthly

13. Brandwatch

Screencap from the Brandwatch website

Brandwatch alerts you to potentially damaging posts to avoid social crises, as well as to positive ones where action might be warranted. Also use to explore topic analysis, measure influence, and understand sentiment to inform your next move. View historical data back to 2010 depending on plan.

Price: Contact Brandwatch for a customized quote

14. Glean.info (formerly CyberAlert)

Screencap from the Glean.info website

Glean.info‘s reach of online media is pretty impressive. It automatically monitors Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, blogs, message boards and forums, usenet newsgroups, and social videos daily. Enter keywords to receive daily (or customized) email alerts of news articles from more than 65,000 news sources in 191 countries, or overnight results from more than 250 local and national radio stations in the top 50 U.S. markets. You can also monitor closed-captioning text and news broadcast preview clips, as well as receive clips containing your specified keywords.

Price: Free 14-day trial, then customized to client needs

17. Nuvi

nuvi-graphic

Screencap from the Nuvi website

Nuvi offers real-time monitoring of top social networks as well as nearly 4 million RSS feeds in 20 languages. Visual dashboards let you clearly see metrics like mentions, reach, spread, and sentiment so you can make decisions quickly. And ability to publish and schedule content to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn is a plus.

Price: Contact Nuvi for a customized plan

18. Synthesio

Screencap from Synthesio website

Use Synthesio to understand your global audience with real-time access to more than 100,000 websites in 197 countries and 80 languages – plus 21 ASA languages – to compute your Social Reputation Score and other metrics. Smart spam filters and machine learning keep data optimized so you don’t waste time on “noise” while monitoring mentions and sentiment to ensure brand health.

Price: Contact Synthesio for a customized plan

19. Sysomos

Screencap from Sysomos website

Automatic crisis management alerts are one key feature in the Sysomos monitoring platform, which also lets you understand how campaign and product launches affect brand perception. Analyze competitors, track trends, and identify influencers as well. Ability to categorize conversations by brand, service issues, or customer engagements is a plus. Choose individual tools, or access several in one platform.

Price: Contact Sysomos for a customized plan

Platform-specific tools

If your social footprint is centered around a single social platform, you might consider a social monitoring tool meant specifically for that platform.

For Twitter alone there are several to choose from, including Twitter’s own analytics. Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest also have their own insights on offer – though they are limited with regard to alerting you to issues in real-time.

A free option like Twazzup could be enough for some companies, with its simple list of influencers and keywords…

twazzup

…but if you need a more sophisticated Twitter-centric option, you could consider more robust tools like TweetReach by Union Metrics. A free Snapshot gives you access to “most retweeted” tweets – which can alert you to anything negative that’s gaining traction. With an upgraded Union Metrics account you can do more, including view analytics for Facebook and Instagram, starting at $99 USD monthly.

…but if you need a more sophisticated Twitter-centric option, you could consider more robust tools like TweetReach. TweetReach lets you search hashtags to uncover top contributors by impressions, and more with pricing from $99 to $399 USD monthly.

tweet-reach

Or try Audiense for even more bells and whistles.

Reach beyond your own following on Twitter and Instagram with plans starting at $31.15 USD monthly, or go deeper with audience segmentation and targeting capabilities starting at $15,600 USD annually.

The platform you choose will be dependent on your current needs, and your expected rate of growth. It may not be affordable to reach for an enterprise-sized solution at the moment, but there are many platforms mentioned above that can grow with you to get the job done at every stage of your marketing needs.

If you focus on your brand goals, while understanding the importance of monitoring the social landscape to maintain excellent brand health, you can’t go wrong.

And if you’re ready to see how NetBase compares, reach out for a one-on-one free demo of our suite of products.

E-Book: 4 Steps to Building a Successful Social Analytics Program

Image from Greyweed

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