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Online brand reputation or social media monitoring tool comparison review

A comparison of 36 social media monitoring software tools

There are a bewildering number of social media monitoring tools to choose from. A 2015 comparison of social media listening tools from Ideya Ltd shows that there are around 250 tools available. Of these 191 are paid, with the remainder free or using a combined model.

How to decide which tool(s) is best for you?

Knowing how to decide on the best tool is certainly challenging. This post isn't as comprehensive or up-to-date as the latest Ideya report, thanks to all the merger and acquisition activity in this area, but it compares 36 of the best known social media listening tools including free and paid. If you want to know the free tools go straight to category 4.

The bulk of the work on the original post was completed by a specialist, Michael Brewer of Clerestorey who compiled this comprehensive directory of the leading social listening tools tools to support his work in advising clients on monitoring their brands in social media. In January he completed an update and we have made the guide available as a PDF - download: Social listening platforms comparison - Update 20.01.10 - PDF version. Note this is more up-to-date than the version below since it now contains 36 tools. Thanks Michael!

With so many well-regarded tools, from free to paid, it's difficult to know where to start. To help with this decision I interviewed Gray Dudek of Infegy/Social Radar to get his views on how to select a buzz monitoring system. For a more independent view, I have been talking to Econsultancy to help prepare a new buyer's guide and I will let you know when this is released.

1. Competitive landscape for reputation management tools

Reputation management tools have been categorised as a form of software in different ways, for example

  • Listening platforms (used by Forrester in their review of 10 tools earlier in 2009)
  • Reputation or online management tools (ORM)
  • Brand defence tools
  • Social Media Monitoring
  • Buzz tracking or buzz monitoring software
  • Consumer Generated Media (CGM) tracking

Take your pick!

Within these areas, Michael has defined 7 different product categories for brand reputation management and monitoring software which you can see in the 7 colour coded sections of the table.

Category 1 - Wide scope analytical and reporting tools for all aspects of monitoring customer opinions and campaign effectiveness
Category 2 - Blog based influence assessment tools, designed to gain access to influential customers/commentators
Category 3 - PR and media management tools for reputation management and assessing opinion forming influence
Category 4 - Social media tracking and intervention including free tools
Category 5 - Fraud protection, security and threat detection
Category 6 - News media tracking
Category 7 - Social media within sales management - for identifying B2B prospects

I have highlighted the most widely used tools in each category with an asterisk.

2. Key distinguishing features of competitors in 2009

  • Scope and range of searching - number of sites, etc, real time or delayed
  • Sophistication of analysis tools, especially for language analysis; statistical or semantic
  • Flexibility of data presentation, quality of text/charts, dashboard fixed or user configured
  • Communication tools for issuing alerts, collaborative working, via email, text, IM
  • Integration with other applications, primarily web data tracking and CRM systems
  • Option or requirement for 'human intervention' by user and/or supplier
  • Charging model and implications for total cost of use

3. Upcoming competitive features in 2010 and beyond

  • Capability for image tracking, video, logo, photos etc
  • Integration with workflow, ERP systems, etc
  • Range of report formats, styles, configured as 'products'
  • Chart and analysis integration - mapping, 3D, tag clouds, visualisation techniques, etc
  • Actionability -direct intervention in dialogue, development of advertising, web campaigns, etc

4. Notes on compilation

  • Twitter-only search and tracking tools have been excluded (eg Twendz, Twitratr)
  • Some suppliers include agency/consulting services as standard - eg Nielsen Buzz Metrics; Cymfony; Reputrace
  • Typical billing models include annual/monthly subscription, number of profiles tracked, volume of data collected, number of users
Name Positioning Analysis Reporting/Products
Category 1 - Wide scope analytical and reporting tools for all aspects of monitoring customer opinions and campaign effectiveness
* Radian6 - in partnership with Web Trends Social media monitoring platform for marketing, communications and customer support professionalsBilling is tied to results, not the parameters used Sentiment, engagement, reach, inbound links, vote count or comment countPost and source tags to create a "social web caller ID" system, and segment results for in-depth reporting and analysisSupports filters Flexible dashboard and as-it-happens alerts enable monitoring of all forms of social media and related comments in real-timeResults can be filtered by country, by source and by media type, within date range or for pre-set daysEmail, IM, communication toolsWebTrends integration filters social media content with web stats like site visits, conversions, or purchases
Infegy Social Radar The most efficient, fastest, and most effective social research toolset backed by vast data collection Using artificial intelligence, categorizes media types and conversation topics with contextual tone analysis Generates charts and graphs from data sources within a given period by topic Creates "€˜maps"€™ of influencers around topics
Trupulse (Visible, founded 2005; strategic partnership with WPP) Online brand management - Repair, protect and proactively promote brand or corporate reputation in search engine results Powered by the proprietary truCAST engine - discovery, collection, processing, analysis and engagement architecture for social media content truREPUTATION - online reputation management servicetruPULSE - RSS based web monitoringtruINSIGHTtruVOICE - allows participation with consumerstruSEARCH - SEO tool
* Scout Labs Relatively low cost 'self service product'Costs range from $100 to $750 a month (Feb. 2009) depending upon how many platforms, or "workspaces," and how many concurrent text searches clients need, there is no limit on nos users per workspace Proprietary tools Create graphs, forward, bookmark, initiate discussions, download graph data or copy graphsThe dashboard offers real-time metrics for buzz volume, customer sentiment, and competitive share of voice across the webAgencies can 'white label' the reports
SEER (VML, part of WPP group) Defines a brand 'ecosystem' System built on1) a focused crawler;2) custom dictionaries and parsing;3) a web-based control panel;4) a three-dimensional visualization tool

Constantly updated

Builds a model over time of the patterns of communication within the target audienceEvery relationship is mapped out three-dimensionally, with 'hot spots' and tag clouds to identify areas of interest
* Nielsen Buzz Metrics Real time market intelligence and brand metrics, with expert input and support Text-mining, analytic technologies andexpert analysts 30 report formatsCustomisable dashboardThreat Tracker alerts by emailBrand Tracking, Audit and Scorecard reports for regular informationBrand Association maps
Feedback Ferret Voice of Customer Platform to gather, analyse and report on customer feedback Contextual analysis engine extracts topics, themes and sentiment from unstructured feedback; can build in customer data files Interactive dashboards supplied; capability to share across organisation
Interwoven (acquired by Autonomy 2009) Interwoven web content management uses Autonomy's Intelligent Data Operating Layer (IDOL) to provide a powerful solution for profiting from social media Uses Meaning Based Computing technology; IDOL gives clustering, pattern matching techniques, and probabilistic modeling Dashboard data delivered within the content management systemTeamSite, LiveSite, and Optimost automatically deliver dynamic, targeted, and optimized content and offers to consumers based on social media sentiment and emerging trends
Brand24 Reliable, easy to use and affordable real-time Internet monitoring and analytics for companies of all sizes, across all industries.Track and engage in online mentions about your brand, product and competition, identify sales leads, improve customer service and target brand ambassadors and influencers, starting with $49/month. Analysis include: media type, domain, sentiment (positive, negative, neutral), influencer score, estimated social media reach, most popular authors, most popular keywords related to the discussion, competitive comparison and more. Extensive range of automated reports delivered in pdf format. The reports include the most important data for user’s brand, product or a topic presented in a form of charts and tables.
Category 2 - Blog based influence assessment tools, designed to gain access to influential customers/commentators
Nielsen BlogPulse Blog tracking and management for individuals and bloggers as well as corporates Based on machine-learning and natural-language processing techniquesSearch by link (URL), keyword, phrase, boolean query, and date range "Performs a unique kind of text mining on blog data to help reveal topics and themes within blog entries every day"Statistical reports, produced dailyTrend analysis and chartingBlogger profilingConversation tracker
* Market Sentinel A range of tools for sentiment monitoring, identifying key influencers and campaign buzz tracking. Based on machine-learning and natural-language processing techniquesSearch by link (URL), keyword, phrase, boolean query, and date range "Performs a unique kind of text mining on blog data to help reveal topics and themes within blog entries every day"Statistical reports, produced dailyTrend analysis and chartingBlogger profilingConversation tracker
Buzz Logic Blog based media agency - tracking influential conversations on the web and aligning ad campaignsCosted on monthly subscriptions Algorithms calculate the expertise and credibility of conversational media, and map the social graphs emerging around each site's contentBased on analysis of:-traffic and number of inbound links
-contextual relevance to a customer's specified area of concern, such as key words.
-frequency of content publication on such topics
-the traffic it sends back to the marketer
??
Category 3 - PR and media management tools for reputation management and assessing opinion forming influence
* Cymfony (acquired by TNS Media Group in 2007) PR management tool with customer service and marketing applications, especially crisis management Powered by Cymfony's InfoXtract(TM) technology, an information extraction and analysis engine used by US government and intelligence agenciesProprietary Natural Language Processing engine automatically identifies, classifies, quantifies and benchmarks important people, places, companies, concepts, relationships, and events in documents from both traditional and social media.Based on detailed grammatical analysis of the text Orchestra - a model centred on metric views, reports, and clippings. With interface tools to help users build custom views, create and share reports and structure complex queries to sort though massive amounts of dataCymfony's Professional Services team delivers customized reporting services, specializing in integrated media measurement programs with corporate six sigma initiatives
Marchex Reputation Management(in development) Customer insight tool for SMEs Standard charts on positive, neutral or negative reviews Checks business listingsIdentifies keywords for differentiationCompetitor comparisonCapability to share positive news and reviews with customers and employees through email, Twitter, Facebook, Digg or other sources
Reputica Reputation management and recruitment supportClaims to be able to predict where stories will go as well as track where they came from Powered by iFeed, a discovery and aggregation engine for social mediaSelf-learning capabilityInbuilt ranking and scoring system with sentiment analysis Dashboard capability for online reputation monitoringSearch related tool for recruiters
Jodange Opinion based reputation managementTargets publishers of online content Uses linguistic analysis to extract opinion data from documents and identify the opinion holder and topic each opinion expressionIgnores factual statements to focus on opinions and score sentiments Defines the relationship between Opinion Holder, Opinion, and TopicCapability to correlate opinions to outcomes over time
Category 4 - Social media tracking and intervention including free tools
Converseon Social media agency with proprietary tool for listening Advanced proprietary natural language processing and related technologies plus human interaction from the set-up phase through to report delivery and engagement Conversation MinerTMConversation ManagerConversation MonitorSERM Analyzer
* Who's Talkin Free tool for individuals or organisations wanting to monitor their own or competitors presence in social media conversations Search and sorting algorithms Search strings
* Social Mention Free social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content Analysis based on:Strengthis phrase mentions within the last 24 hours divided by total possible mentions.Sentimentratio of mentions that are generally positive to those that are generally negative.Passion is most frequently used keywords and number of times mentioned. Number of mentions by sentiment.Reach the number of unique authors referencing your brand divided by the total number of mentions Search stringsDelivers daily social media alerts
* Trackur Tracks sentiments and trends in social media mentions with alerts via email and RSS Boolean keyword based query with option to exclude some sites
* Viralheat Viralheat aims to be a one stop shop for understanding social mediaEffectively a search engineMonthly subscription (10 profiles for $10 and 50 profiles for $40) User generated profiles. Operate on a proprietary, custom-built cloud host. Includes Compete and Quantcast numbers. Generates dashboard chartsInsights delivered in real timeExports to Excel or pdfDaily email alerts can be shared
NetBase Consumer Insights Market and consumer insights in real-time to identify actionable consumer opinions Content Intelligence is able to read every sentence of every document, linguistically understand the sentences, and provide market and consumer insights
Category 5 - Fraud protection, security and threat detection
Envisional Fraud and piracy protection for logos and trademarksPatented A31 visual search technology Built in filters with user defined parametersUnique, patented search technologies alongside a team of experienced analysts"sentiment monitoring" system, using fuzzy logic and self-organising maps ??
KnowEm Brand protection and security Identifies users of brand names and their contact detailsTracks multiple metrics to determine which networks are gaining (or losing) traction in the social media landscape ??
Reputrace (Repumetrix formerly CoreX) 'All purpose' but focus on security applications High speed reporting on latest mentions and referencesReporting tool sends summaries from the site that include company logos
Mark Monitor Brand security, particularly domain monitoring
FiltrBox News tracking system Looks at multiple dimensions to generate a score (1-10 scale) for each articleCan be user defined Rapid alert systemEmail, web dashboard, and custom RSS feeds (FiltrFeedsTM)Daily briefing emails
Category 6 - News media tracking
Newssift News media based search tool exclusively focused on business Identifies the people, companies, places and connections common across all stories; scores sentiment within stories User defined queries
NewsLive (ebiquity) Completely automated digital service plus all the benefits of a traditional, tried-and-tested manual clippings agency The Newslive editorial monitoring service 3 different scores, allocated by trained readers. Scores can be weighted according to the size of audience An email alert is sent as soon as a relevant news story breaks; the latest headlines and content transcripts are included by a team of specialist news readers and précis writers working 24/7Users can track the scores
Category 7 - Social media within sales management - for identifying B2B prospects
Inside View Identifies B2B sales companies prospects from intelligence gained from social media and traditional editorial sources Continuously aggregates and analyzes personal, executive, and corporate information Delivers contact lists, exports leads, manages watch lists, etc

Please add your experiences or comments on other social media monitoring software. Thank you!

Dave Chaffey and Michael Brewer

By Dave Chaffey

Dave is CEO and co-founder of Smart Insights. He is editor of the 100 templates, ebooks and courses in the digital marketing resource library created by our team of 25+ Digital Marketing experts. Our resources used by our Expert members in more than 80 countries to Map, Plan and Manage their digital marketing. For my full profile, or to connect on LinkedIn or other social networks, see the About Dave Chaffey profile page on Smart Insights. Dave is author of 5 bestselling books on digital marketing including Emarketing Excellence and Digital Marketing: Strategy, Implementation and Practice. In 2004 he was recognised by the Chartered Institute of Marketing as one of 50 marketing ‘gurus’ worldwide who have helped shape the future of marketing.

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