Social Media Monitoring – 10 Social Media Experts Tell You What to Use

10 Social Media Metrics Experts Monitor Social Media

Is your firm monitoring social media? Even if your firm isn’t active on social media platforms, you must track the social media ecosphere for mentions of your company name, products, brands, executives and competitors.

For most businesses, the social media analytics landscape is confusing because it can be difficult to determine your exposure until you’ve been active for a while. At a minimum, however, you must invest in social media monitoring tools and analytics savvy personnel.

To help readers determine which tools they should use, I surveyed social media experts for their recommendations. This distinguished list includes three published authors and two professors of web analytics as well as the founder of eMetrics, and one founder of a metrics firm.

Before you dive into the world of social media analytics, it’s critical to know what your business goals are for social media marketing and how you’ll handle various social media mentions since this influences your decision. (As a starting point, read The One Social Media Metric You Need.)

  1. Which free tracking and/or monitoring social media program(s) do you recommend and why?

    • Google alerts at minimum—It’s free and everyone should be monitoring. This is a great place to start. Connie Benson
    • Google analytics. It gives you nearly everything you need to measure your success. Gini Dietrich – Spin Sucks blog
    • There are a lot of free tools out there.  No one tool gives you everything like the paid software but together they can do a pretty good job of helping you understand the social landscape for a brand.  The ones I like best are:  Twitter Grade, Wefollow, twitalyzer, Twitter Sentiment, Social Mention, Nielsen Blog Pulse, Follower Wonk, Klout, Google Insights and tweetfeel. Perry Drake – Drake DirectAssistant Professor at NYU
    • Depends what you’re measuring. If I had to have one tool in my free toolbox, Google Analytics would get the vote. Rebecca Lieb – Altimeter Group, author of Content Marketing: Think Like a Publisher – How to Use Content to Market Online and in Social Media (Affiliate link)
    • Both Social Mention and Google Alerts do a pretty decent job of picking up mentions. At the free level, that’s what it’s all about…mentions. You’ll have to keep tabs of those mentions yourself. For super low-cost tracking with a bit more power, Trackur has a starter package under $20 a month that will help you keep it all organized. John Marshall – Market Motive
    • Google Analytics with Link Tagging is indispensable in tying social action with conversion goals. Download my link tagging spreadsheet if you want to give it a try. Brian Massey – Conversion Scientist  
    • Google trends – although not strictly social media based, Google trends instantaneously reveals what people are thinking about, when, and where (geographics). Useful for identifying emerging or falling trends, as well relevant news stories, and other brands/products/ideas are trending along similar patterns. Kate Paulin – 360i
    • Although it depends on the desired business results, I’d have to say Google Analytics because most social media programs will probably relate back to website and sales activity and Google Analytics measures visits, relevance, return online ad investments, conversion, ecommerce. Rob Petersen – Barn Raisers
    • I don’t recommend any until I know what a customers goals are and what they are willing to spend, as well as what resources they have at their disposal, I hesitate to recommend any platform. Marshall Sponder, author of Social Media Analytics: Effective Tools for Building, Interpreting, and Using Metrics. (Affiliate link)
    • The one that is the most flexible, that you are the most familiar with and that the rest of the team trusts. Jim Sterne – eMetrics Marketing Optimization Summit, author of Social Media Metrics: How to Measure and Optimize Your Marketing(Affiliate link)
  2. Which nominally priced tracking and/or monitoring program(s) do you recommend and why?

    • Buy a professional tool that suits the size of your business and budget. Trackur for SMB’s and Radian6 for enterprise. Connie Benson
    • Clicky ( is the best tracking option. It combines your Google analytics with further analysis about who is visiting your site(s) and what they’re doing when they’re there. This is extremely important in content and email marketing. Gini Dietrich
    • The two I like best are Viralheat and Trackur.  With both you can monitor your reputation, mentions and competitors for as little as $9 and $18 a month respectively-no kidding. Perry Drake
    • Without knowing what you’re going to measure, you can’t pick a tool to measure it. You wouldn’t buy a measuring cup to measure the length of your new sofa, would you? Rebecca Lieb
    • Trackur is probably the best bet I know of for low cost. Even their $88/mo package is pretty good.  Trackur is the cheapest option I know of that has some sentiment tagging (meaning it tries to tell you if it’s a positive or negative comment) and it will save your search phrases and run the searches automatically for you. John Marshall
    • Spredfast is inexpensive and is integrated into all of the key services I use: analytics, social networks, content services, and more. It’s great for outbound social communication as well as inbound tracking and monitoring. Brian Massey
    • Radian6 30 day historical data access – very cost effective, results are real time, data inputs are comprehensive. Kate Paulin
    •  Although some measures are free, is the best service for looking at activity on your website and your competitors. Since an increase in business performance has to come from someplace, is good place to keep tabs with what’s going on with your business, your competitors and your industry. Rob Petersen
    • My preferences are Sysomos MAP, Alterian SM2Radian6, Brandwatch etc. My caveat is that no platform ends up being inexpensive if it is deployed wrong that turn out to be way more expensive not so much because of the platform pricing as much as an unwitting, or unknowing approach to deploying these platforms and approaches that magnify the costs, often by a factor of 10 or more, causing major sticker shock. At the end of the day, people have to ultimately blame themselves if they deploy systems without understanding their requisite limitations. Marshall Sponder
  3. Which price-is-no-object tracking and/or social media monitoring program(s) do you recommend and why?

    • We like Spiral16 because they monitor and analyze the data for you. Gini Dietrich
    • Of course Radian6, Lithium and Nielsen Buzzmetrics.  These are the big three players. The only reason I might not recommend Radian6 software to a client or student is given their size, not due to lack of capabilities. They are so big now that they are guilty of ignoring requests from individuals or small to medium sized firms. Perry Drake
    • Even if price is no object, you can’t buy a tool until you’ve defined what it will be used for. Rebecca Lieb
    • Radian6 is definitely an industry standard. There are a lot more options out there, but Radian6 is pretty solid.  It will track all your mentions, chart who the influencers are in your industry, find new prospects, give you custom dashboards, create two-way communications, etc.  John Marshall
    • If price wasn’t an option, I’d send all of my employees to personal one-on-one training with Tony Hsieh (customer-centric cultures), Seth Godin (remarkable products and services), Bryan and Jeffrey Eisenberg (builing empathy for online prospects), and the Wizard Academy (how to communicate effectively). I would anticipate half of them quitting afterward when they realized how far we had to go. The other half will get us there. Brian Massey
    • We think that more research needs to be done around measuring social engagement and its impact on brand perceptions, behavior and ROI. As a result, 360i has developed a framework that will answer these questions. Kate Paulin
    • Probably an advanced analytic services like Coremetrics. Here’s a quick case study. Seton Hall University was trying to increase enrollment by driving more traffic to their website for incoming freshmen to register. They found out that new students now go to a university’s Facebook page to learn the real story about a school. They made their Facebook page a priority and hired Coremetric to do all sorts of “tagging” to measure site traffic and referrals tied to registration. The results were enrollment increased +18% and deposits increased +25% due to Facebook. They couldn’t have proved this without a highly customized analytics solution. Rob Petersen
    • When price is no object, in today’s world, full of no established ways of effectively culling, classifying and analyzing unstructured data, a mature buyer is often best off with a full service platform such as (Disclosure, I’m on the Integrasco Advisory Board), or to name a few. Here are a few reasons for selecting these options: custom crawling of selected sources of data, custom data extraction of custom sources of data, custom dashboards from a+b, custom platform built for the analyst, analyst paired with the analytics platform (provides a service), and subject area expertise sprinkled in with the data analysis. Marshall Sponder
    • The one that integrates in with everything else you are doing. Integrated marketing, media mix modeling, customer analytics – whatever you wish to call it – is the art of correlating data from all different sources and communicating the moving picture of your marketplace inside the organization. It is worth any price to have a constant stream of social media data provided it is current, detailed and integrated with the rest. Jim Sterne

Since budget is an issue for more organizations when it comes to social media monitoring, it’s important to understand what your business goals are and how you’ll handle the information you uncover. To this end, it’s not just about having the appropriate analytics tools but also about having sufficient support in terms of analysis and social media engagement.

Do you have any other favorite tools for social media monitoring that you’d like to add to the list?

Happy marketing,
Heidi Cohen

Here are some related articles that may be of interest.

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11 Responses to Social Media Monitoring – 10 Social Media Experts Tell You What to Use

  1. Hi Heidi,
    Indeed Very informative article on Social Media tools.
    I would like to add little insight about our Tool.
    We own one of the most innovative social media analytics, engagement and campaign software called Simplify360 ( ). Simplify360° Offers a one stop solution to the social media needs of a business and lets you engage with your customers and interpret your social presence. This not only monitor conversations on Twitter whereas on all other Social networking platforms. Our world class analytics platform will provide you insights into how your brand is perceived in the digital and social media space, so you can take proactive measures and manage your brand reputation. Not only can you understand what your customers think of you but also engage with them in the most innovative way.

    Kavya Kundalia Bisht
    Community Manager, Simplify360

  2. Hi Heidi,
    I agree with you, budget is an issue for many organisations which they have to consider while choosing social media monitoring tools. Another social media monitoring tool which does an excellent job of tracking conversations, buzz, geography and influencers is webfluenz, and the best part is that it is extremely competitive in terms of price!
    You can check them out at

  3. Paul.
    I was thinking exactly the same thing as you. I work for a large biotech company and we had Radian6 but dumped it because it was overly complicated and overpriced. We were nervous about the switch but despite that we purchased a pro version of Hootsuite and it is the talk of our company for it’s ability to cross functionally streamline workflows among the departments that need to be coordinated to serve our customers quickly and effectively. In this day and age the line between marketing and customer service is getting blurrier every day. I am on the social media management team. We had so many hands in the pot that we had to put everyone and their social accounts in Hootsuite to able to manage it all in one spot rather than people managing, hunting people down for content or to answer customer questions. We had over 30 or so social accounts and it has been a blessing that Hootsuite makes it feel like it is just one account. We also like the governance capabilities that it has around scheduling messages but then having one person that has to edit and approve them before they publish. Now everyone goes in and posts away and we can make sure each posts meets SEO, brand and legal requirements before they go out. This cuts down on the back and forth emails and has increased our productivity and creativity ten fold.

  4. Paul Dillon says:

    I am really surprised not to see Hootsuite mentioned here. We have used it together with Viralheat, socialmention, twilerts, Google advanced search but we like Hootsuite so much we are considering paying for Hootsuite Enterprise which will allow us to do away with the rest, build in assignment workflows between business units, and manage our Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Flickr and Google+ company profiles all from within the same dashboard. You can also monitor all of these networks as well so I am staggered not to see it mentioned at least once in the article.

    Paul Dillon, Digital Communications Manager, Allianz Global Assistance

  5. Elizabeth Lewis says:

    Another good social media tool to track your products is Very easy to use. I’m happy with them.

  6. Kisha says:

    Twilert is another great free Twitter tracking tool – you can set your accounts and get alerts much like Google alerts but for Twitter – set the time you want to receive alerts, i have been using it for a couple of months and it has proven to be very accurate and effective.

    Monnitor is another online Twitter tracking tool. You can search phrases, key words, hashtags and handles pretty effectively, it also brings up older tweets and everything that mentions your search phrase in a window much the same as Tweet deck.

    Tweet Deck is essential to manage all of your social media accounts including Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn etc – you can link all your accounts, track mentions, follwers, direct messages etc. This is awesome if you are managing a whole bunch of sites.

    HowSociable is another which is great for measuring your brand visibility metrics. Each week you get an alert with a score on how your social media platforms are performing with number of mentions across every social network.

    All of the above are free and great!

  7. 40deuce says:

    I’m kind of surprised to not see Sysomos listed on here a few more times, but I can’t argue against people’s personal opinions. Still, I’m glad to see that we were at least included in here.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos

    • Heidi Cohen says:

      Sheldon — May I suggest that you broaden your outreach among social media thought leaders? Happy marketing, Heidi Cohen

    • In Sheldon’s defence – that’s exactly what he does. I run the main Social Media Monitoring Group on LinkedIn and a Monitoring Social Media Blog and we’re now “old friends” 🙂

      In terms of tools, ViralHeat for SMEs and Sysomos for brands – unless you need a full service solution, in which case speak to Comverseon or Synthesio. I would defer to Marshall’s comment about needing requirements first. I have a 20-point checklist for my clients.