There really is no substitute for an in-depth, paid for social media monitoring tool. The technical capacity of these tools enables detailed brand analysis in the context of competitors, identification of key influencers and the ability to respond to negative mentions immediately. These are simply a few benefits. If you’re after one of these tools – take a look at Alterian, Radian6 or Sysomos and have a look at this post.
Having said that, there are a number of great free online monitoring tools that are a great place to start checking the conversations around your brand. The great thing about them is that they are easy to use and don’t require analytical skills to understand the intricacies of paid for social media tools.
Here are a few free tools to help you on your way to monitoring your brand
Google Alerts – Easy to use and simple to set up, Google Alerts requires the user to simply enter key search terms to receive daily email alerts referencing those search terms. You can have as many search terms as you like.
Google Reader – As a web-based aggregator, Google Reader enables the user to add subscriptions (links to blogs, websites, wikis etc) and quickly and efficiently scan new content as it comes in. Google Reader is one of those great ‘all in one place’ RSS tools – A summary of headlines means you no longer have to search for relevant content – it comes straight to you.
There is a good article here about how to get the most out of Google Reader
Social Mention – Enables the user to receive free daily email alerts of your brand, company, CEO, marketing campaign, or on a developing news story, a competitor, or the latest on a celebrity. So easy to use – just add a word and you’re away.
WhosTalkin – Very similar to Social Mention except that following a search you can export an excel doc including all links.
The shortcoming of these tools is obviously the inability to refine your searches; sifting through the results takes time. You also have to do a lot more legwork in terms of comparing results to competitors etc. They are definitely a great place to start though.