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Choose a Social Content Monitoring Tool

As the social media space grows, the job of monitoring your business across all the statuses, check-ins, tweets, and blog posts has grown as well. Fortunately, there are a number of tools — many of them free — to help you monitor so you can focus on analysis and strategy.

Monitor across all web content with Google Alerts and Google Trends

Google Alerts searches the web for anything you want and gives you a list of Internet mentions via e-mail. Google Trends tells you about the macro-level Internet activity for a keyword. You can even compare keywords, and it shows you a trend line over time with milestone articles.

The information is not always precise. Coke got a significant bump in May 2010 when a drug lord named Coke escaped from Jamaican forces.

Google Trends reports on Coke versus Pepsi. Note the irony of Coke being blue and Pepsi being red i
Google Trends reports on Coke versus Pepsi. Note the irony of Coke being blue and Pepsi being red in the chart. You don’t get to pick the colors.

Monitor only social sites with Social Mention

Social Mention is a search engine that crawls more than one hundred social media websites and services, including Twitter, Facebook, FriendFeed, YouTube, Digg, and Google. It allows you to do some segmentation on blogs, microblogs (Twitter, FriendFeed), bookmarking sites (Digg, StumbleUpon, reddit), comments, events, images, news, video, audio, Q&A, and social networks.

It even attempts to tell you how strong the conversation is, the positive-to-negative sentiment ratio, how passionate the audience is, and how far reaching. You can get these results via e-mail or have them piped into your blog via a widget.

Sentiment analysis is pretty primitive so take it with a grain of salt. It’s tough to know when sentiment is true when sarcasm is prevalent on the Internet.

These results can be captured via an RSS feed, which means you can use the results in other applications and download them to an Excel file for analysis.

A search for skateboard company Loaded’s popular longboard the Dervish on Social Mention.
A search for skateboard company Loaded’s popular longboard the Dervish on Social Mention.

Monitor tweet activity with Twitter clients

Twitter clients like HootSuite, TweetDeck, Seesmic, and CoTweet can help you create and build Twitter streams that give you the information that you care about watching. They allow you to build columns that suit specific monitoring needs. You can follow Twitter accounts and create persistent searches that pull extremely specific information like your competitors’ product information or people checking in to their places.

For example, if you’re marketing for an Austin, Texas–area restaurant, you can set up your search criteria on TweetDeck in the following ways:

  • First column: Displays a list of people checking into the Austin airport. You can then send an offer to these people.

  • Second column: Monitors your restaurant’s check-ins and mentions.

  • Third column: Tracks a competitor. You can track as many restaurants as you want.

    Monitoring search columns in TweetDeck.
    Monitoring search columns in TweetDeck.

Scale up your social monitoring with paid tools

Tools like Radian6, Scout Labs (part of Lithium), BrandsEye, and Visible Technologies give you a robust set of functions like charts, graphs, word clouds, and so on that you can use to show the impact of social media over time.

GeoIQ is a data visualization tool that allows you to subscribe to social, weather, finance, and government data and juxtapose that with private data like budgets, forecasts, and actuals.

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