social-media monitoring tools

13 Essential Social-Media 'Listening Tools'
by Clay McDaniel
Published on May 19, 2009

You're a marketer who's hip to the idea of social media: You have a blog for your company or client, you know Facebook inside and out, and you can Tweet with the best of them. So you've got the communicating part down pat.

But the big question is, Are you listening? If you have customers, chances are they're talking about you to their friends, to their coworkers, and to anyone else who will listen.

Here are some of the top tools for listening to and monitoring the online chatter about your brand:

Free Apps

1. Google Alerts

Google Alerts is the steady rock in the sometimes white-water world of monitoring. You can easily target keywords that are important to your brand and receive streaming or batched reports—choose your own adventure.

2. Technorati

Billing itself as "the leading blog search engine," Technorati has been helping bloggers and those with their fingers on the blog pulse stay informed for years.

3. Jodange

Tracking your brand or a product is one thing, but turning that tracking into a measure of consumer sentiment about your brand or product is something completely different. For that, Jodange has TOM (Top of Mind), which tracks consumer sentiment about your brand or product across the Web.

4. Trendrr

Want to know how your brand or product is trending compared with others? Trendrr uses comparison graphing to show relationships and discover trends in real time. Use the free account, or bump it up to the Enterprise level for more functionality.

5. Lexicon

What are people talking about on Facebook? Lexicon searches Facebook walls for keywords and provides a snapshot of the chatter volume around those terms.

6. Monitter

Everyone is talking about Twitter, but what are people talking about on Twitter? Beyond the integrated search of Twitter apps like Twhirl and TweetDeck, Monitter provides real-time monitoring of the Twittersphere.

7. Tweetburner

In the world of Twitter, URL shortening is the Obi-Wan (it's your only hope) for effectively connecting with the public. Tweetburner also lets you track the clicks on those magically shortened links, giving you some hard numbers.

8. Twendz

Public relations shop Waggener Edstrom recently launched its Twitter-monitoring tool, Twendz. The tool piggybacks off Twitter Search to monitor and provide user sentiment for the real-time Twitterstream—70 tweets at a time.

Paid Apps

9. TruCast

TruCast by Visible Technologies provides in-depth, keyword-based monitoring of the social Web with an emphasis on blogs and forums. Its dashboard applications provide visual representations of sentiment and trends for your brands online.

10. and 11. Radian6 and Cision

Radian6 pulls information from the social Web, and analyzes and provides consumer sentiment ratings for your brand. When paired with CisionPoint from Cision, the evolved Bacon's of today, Radian6's dashboard can provide a wealth of information.

12. Techrigy

Techrigy's SM2 is a social-media monitoring and analysis solution for PR and marketing folks. With a focus on complete analysis and comparison, the SM2 experience draws information from all major social-media channels.

13. Collective Intellect

Collective Intellect (CI) is a real-time intelligence platform, based on advanced artificial intelligence. Its solution provides automatic categorization of conversations based on CI’s proprietary filtering technology. According to CI, its technologies provide credible groupings and reduce the "noise" seen in other keyword-based searches.

* * *

Listening and making sense of how your brand lives on the Web is only part of the equation. How you use that information to interact with the public is the next step.

Clay McDaniel is principal and cofounder of social-media marketing agency Spring Creek Group (www.springcreekgroup.com).

    Why Marketers Still Need a Blogging Strategy

    In fact, every marketer today should be using a two-pronged blog strategy: creating and maintaining a fresh and engaging corporate blog, and third-party blog monitoring. Creating your own content is important, but so is monitoring—and responding to—the conversations taking place about your brand on blogs and forums across the Web.

    The first part of your blog strategy—your corporate blog—is all about relevance and discoverability.

    As every marketer knows, the biggest risk with blogs is a lack of relevant and timely publishing. If you don't post timely, punchy, informative posts, your blog will likely be poorly read and won't be found by search engines

    Your goal is not to obtain momentary awareness but to maintain relevancy over the long term for your target audience. You need to use buzz-monitoring tools to find out what customers are talking about—what interests them right now—and then use your blog to write about these subjects. (And don't hesitate to incorporate a few important keywords aligned with your search engine discoverability goals.) This quest for prolonged relevancy, and deeper interaction with your customers, is what your corporate blog can still help you accomplish.

    The second part of your blog strategy—third-party blog monitoring—is all about community engagement.

    Recent research finds that trusted information sources, offline and online, are given greater credence by decision-makers than paid advertisements. People online are likely already talking about your brand, your clients' brands, and your competitors as well.

    The issue, then, becomes whether you're listening and responding—thereby demonstrating your commitment to the community that surrounds your business on the Web. Are you using monitoring tools to find and monitor all the blogs where people talk about your brand, so you can engage in the conversation, post responses, and build relationships with key influencers? Are you digging through that immense pile of Twitter noise to find opportunities to engage your followers further on your own corporate blog or forum?

    Using Twitter to listen and instantly engage and respond to conversations about your brand online is great, and for some businesses it can be an effective communications tool and customer-engagement opportunity. But at some point you have to take off the Twitter goggles and realize where the potential for deeper, more "durable" and long-lasting interaction lies.

    Your own blog-publishing efforts and a blog-monitoring and commenting program offer unique opportunities for a richer connection with key influencers, and each post will last much longer in "Internet time" than any one tweet will within Twitter's fast-flowing public timeline.

    So you want to take your blogging program into the new age? Here are five tips to help you use blogs to engage customers, build your brand, and, ultimately, drive sales.

    1. Find out exactly where the conversations about your brand are happening

    Use social-media monitoring tools to find out which blogs and forums are hosting conversations about your brand. Take the time to know where your brand is being discussed and research the groups that are talking about it. Doing so gives you a better chance of relating to users and creating a relationship, rather than just talking at them in your own blog and when responding to their posts.

    2. Find out who is talking about your brand online

    Interacting with only the people who fully support your brand isn't going to win any hearts and minds—nor make a lasting impact on branding and revenue. Use social-media monitoring tools to find out who is talking about your brand, what they are saying, and what they like and dislike about your brand.

    Understanding the key positive and negative voices discussing your brand will enable you to even better engage your fans, as well as to reach out to detractors to try to win them over. (If you take a blogger's criticism or suggestion and use it in creating a better product or service, not only will you have won that user over, you'll have shown that you are taking your customers' opinions to heart.)

    And remember, online interactions are a two-way street. While you might gain valuable product, marketing, and segment knowledge from the interactions, remember to treat all of your blog-based interactions like a true relationship, with both sides giving and taking. Offer your key influencers special promotions or give them a say in product design or development. That's how you create true brand ambassadors.

    3. Get your corporate blog up to speed

    Take a good hard look at your corporate blog. Is it boring? Are the posts too infrequent? Does it speak to the conversations you've uncovered with social-media monitoring tools? Does it invite engagement by making it easy to post responses and to share posts via email, social networks, and Twitter?

    The person responsible for writing content for your blog should have full access to the social-media monitoring data you uncover on a daily or weekly basis—so they can write posts that touch on those subjects. In addition, your social-media marketing team should work hand-in-hand with your corporate blogger to promote posts via Twitter and other social-networking platforms, as well as to reach out to external bloggers to invite them to read and comment on your corporate blog.

    4. Don't bite off more than you can chew

    It doesn't cost much to (a) write posts for your corporate blog; (b) use free or inexpensive monitoring tools to stay abreast of conversations about your brand; and (c) participate in the Web-wide dialogue taking place about your brand. But it does take a lot time. Make sure to map out your objectives based on the available bandwidth of your marketing team.

    Many blogging programs fail to be relevant and drive engagement because marketers take on more than they should and then the blogging programs languishes due to lack of time. Start small—just a corporate blog and a simple monitoring program—and then grow the program from there.

    5. Avoid common pitfalls

    The pitfalls are many: failing to post regularly on your corporate blog; posting only text and no photos, videos, or links; failing to create a cohesive voice on your corporate blog by allowing several people to post; and neglecting to use all the methods possible to drive traffic to your blog (SEO, SEM, Twitter, social networks, email campaigns, etc.).

    These pitfalls are easy to avoid, and doing so will result in a blogging program that does what you want it to: drive customer engagement, build your brand, and boost sales.

    * * *

    Twitter hasn't killed the blog, just as the short story hasn't destroyed the novel and the compact car hasn't eliminated the pick-up. There are different tools for different purposes, and in this case the goal remains the same: knowing which blog tools are right for the job and, more importantly, how to use both blogging strategies harmoniously to create a lasting relationship with your customers and broader stakeholder communities online.

    Colgate Sues J&J, Chattem for Using the Word 'Total'

    BATAVIA, Ohio (AdAge.com) -- Use of the word "total" on package-goods products is getting out of hand, according to Colgate-Palmolive, which now is waging total warfare in court against two oral-care competitors using the same name as its toothpaste brand.

    Colgate is looking to bar product names such as Listerine Total Care.
    Colgate is looking to bar product names such as Listerine Total Care.
    As multibenefit products became all the rage in package goods in recent years, the word "total" has become commonplace on products throughout the store.

    Looking to stem the tide at least in oral care, Colgate-Palmolive Co., which launched Colgate Total toothpaste in 1997 in the U.S., filed two nearly identical lawsuits Friday in U.S. District Court in New York.

    Colgate is alleging trademark infringement involving "Total Care" variants from Johnson & Johnson's Listerine and Chattem's Act, both launched in February. What's worse, according to Colgate, is that J&J also intends to launch "Total Care" products in dental floss and toothbrushes this month under its Reach brand.

    They're not to be confused with Procter & Gamble Co.'s Tide Total Care, launched last year, which apparently avoids conflict with the Total toothpaste trademark because it's not an oral-care product.

    A spokesman for J&J declined to comment. Chattem didn't return a call for comment by deadline.

    Colgate said Total toothpaste has had more than $3 billion in U.S. sales over the past 12 years and generates nearly $1 billion in sales globally each year.

    The company is seeking injunctions barring the sale of the Total Care products, plus tripling of unspecified damages for trademark infringement, unfair competition and dilution of its trademark.

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