4 great tools for monitoring social media on a shoestring (SMWF pt 4)

Some further insight from Social Media World Forum, last week. This for me was the pick of the sessions I attended. As Paul Szomszor from Citigate took to the stage to discuss how Brandwatch was used to impact their TalkTalk work, news was breaking outside SMWF that cloud CRM Salesforce.com had acquired the social media monitoring platform Radian 6 for $326m.

A massive deal, this illustrates the importance of social media monitoring in relation to online influence and reputation. Paul went on to discuss how reputation online boils down to working out what is noise, what is a flagged/interested mention, and the most important, the key mentions – which are graded positive, negative and neutral.

Paul offered a great soundbite ‘Social media is a tool, not a solution. It needs people to make it work’. I can see this on tshirts, mugs, pens and mousemats!


In all seriousness though, there is a relevance in trying to ascertain how engaged people are with your brand and much was made of sentiment tracking, an increasingly ‘in vogue’ phrase used to describe how positively or negatively you or your brand are being talked about.

Having a grasp of this means you can keep on top of discussions, conversations and if necessary influence them to ensure they are as positive as possible. There are basic and expensive tools that can provide the data, but it is far from automated and does ultimately fall to you as the brand custodian to use the information in a constructive way.

Monitoring social media

Paul talked about  BrandWatch, which at around £100 a month per keyword can start to get expensive for brand owners. BrandWatch gathers, cleans, analyses and presents data, drawing information from a range of online sources to give a complete picture of when a brand, person, company (any keyword searched) is mentioned. If you’re interested, check out a demo.

I’m more interested in some of the free to use platforms which can still help paint a picture and give you a more accessible and cost-free entry point to social media monitoring.

1. Social Mention As the name suggests, it is a free to use real time search engine which pulls together information and references from lots of place including blogs, Twitter, bookmarking sites, events, video sites and social networks. I ran a search for ‘marketingassassin’ and it has proved illuminating. I think the sentiment tracking is a little eskewed as there is no apparent reason for it based on the list below, but it is useful in displaying all references in one view.

2. Topsy Another quick and simple ‘mention’ based search engine which can be integrated with Twitter and Facebook. Shows a public trending timeline and tailored searches across the social web.

3. Board Reader An interesting search engine covering forums, boards and groups. It picks up lots of content discussed on Linkedin and other platforms, and searches can be split across a number of categories. Of most interest to business marketers, I think, is the press release search.

4. Twitter Search – an often overlooked, and distinct, search facility. Avoid at your peril, it offers better results than the search function within Twitter itself.

This is the final in a four part set of posts inspired by sessions at Social Media World Forum, London. Read part one giving an overview, part two about the ASA and the CAP Code revisions affecting online marketing, and read part three about some recent social media start ups.