Social media analytics and monitoring tools have been growing exponentially over the last several years. This shift is also indicative of larger national and international social media trends. Businesses big and small are beginning to see the value of adding social to their marketing budgets. The question is no longer, “Why social media?” but rather, “What does success look like?”
We’ve seen this trend in the Triangle as well, with startups like Argyle Social and Spring Metrics creating unique measurement and analytics options for a growing list of businesses selling products/services online and through their social media channels. I would highly recommend a paid social media monitoring/analytics tool for small and medium sized businesses with active social media campaigns. The proper tools will allow you to test, analyze and consistently improve your social media platforms!
But what about those businesses or individuals who are testing the social waters? Dipping that first toe in before jumping into social media with a big splash and the proverbial cannonball? While there are many paid solutions for the measurement of social media campaigns, there are fewer quality free social media measurement tools – but they do exist!
With that in mind, I’ve highlighted 10 of my favorite free options (in no particular order) for tracking your next social media campaign below. Several of these are platform specific, but are so good they made the list anyway. Think I’m missing something important? Please add your favorite free monitoring options in the comments:
1. Social Mention – Social Mention is one of the first places I go to get an overview of an online conversation. There’s sentiment analysis, top users, and a breakdown of social sources.
2. Topsy – A Social Mention competitor, Topsy is another source for reviewing conversations online and offers many of the options available on Social Mention.
3. Addict-O-Matic – My favorite topic/news summary website. It’s very simple, type in any subject or brand and see a summary of all the discussions occurring around this topic on major news and social websites. Addict-O-Matic gets bonus points for the level of customization available.
4. Google Analytics – I may get smacked for including GA on this list, but the truth is it is a useful tool for social analytics if used correctly with segmentation, link tagging, etc. See #9 for more info.
5. Bit.ly – One of the more common URL shortners, bit.ly has made a name for itself in an extremely crowded space for its excellent analytics. Why? Simply add a “+” to the end of any bit.ly URL to see detailed analytics on the link.
6. Compete.com (Competitive Intelligence/Traffic) – Compete has both paid and free options. It’s an exceptional tool for benchmarking & competitive intelligence (estimated site traffic over time).
7. Twitalyzer (Influence) – Despite its namesake, Twitalyzer is a website that aggregates several measures of social influence online. This is a time saver and critical to getting a more complete picture of social influence related to a topic or brand.
8. Facebook Insights (Analytics) – Although platform specific, the new & improved Facebook analytics is a powerful tool for the social media marketer. Facebook has demographics information that is unavailable from almost any other source. Self reported information like occupation, interests & other demographics allow for extreme segmentation, targeting, etc.
9. Google URL Builder+ Google Analytics + URL Shortner = Profit – While I realize this is more than just 1 tool, I had to include this powerful combo. Use the Google URL Builder to tag your links for specific sources (ex: email newsletter, Twitter, Facebook, etc.). Make sure that Google Analytics is recognizing your tagged links (must be connected with AdWords or manually connected if not using AdWords) & finish up with a URL shortner to make it all work.
10. Insert your favorite social monitoring/measurement tool here – Unfortunately there are SO many free, quality, social media monitoring and measurement tools available that a top 10 list is unable to cover all of the effective options. You’ll note that a few of tools above are fairly specific tools (competitive intelligence, social influence, etc.). These are some of the tools I use the most.
What are your favorites? Let us know in the comments.
Photo Source: liako on Flickr