Top 28 Coolest Tools to Monitor Your Brand in Like…Ever!

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First up- a fracken disclaimer because you know I need one: I am NOT a doctor, a psychologist, or any other thing that ends in “ist”. So take whatever I say next with a grain of salt, not as gospel truth. Kay?

They say that there’s a difference between hearing and listening. Hearing in my book is when something goes in one ear and right out the other. It’s ‘heard’ and processed as a ‘sound’ but not exactly remembered. Nor is the sound particularly useful in the grander scheme of things.

Listening, on the other hand, is a whole other animal. It’s actually hearing and retaining what is being said, analyzing it and making sure that you learn something new or useful from the auditory information.

There is also a phenomenon I like to call ‘half listening’… like what happens when you hear sounds (not just words) that alert you to danger…

AKA the bull horn that crazy driver was laying on as he swerved around your distracted ass on the street. The sound is immediately processed and translates in your brain as “Whoa! Get out the street dodo before you get yourself killed!”

Am I getting a little too psychological on you? Brain starting to hurt a bit?

Okay, I’ll lay off ‘The Alienist’ maneuvers for now and stick to what’s important- brand monitoring.

So I know I’ve mentioned a time or two just how important branding is, and how important spreading that brand around the online realm really is… but you should also know how important it is to monitor that brand and see how it’s stacking up against the competition… and how people are reacting to your brand.

No? I’ve never told you this before? Like ever?

Are you sure? Sure you just weren’t listening properly?

OK, fine, maybe I didn’t ever talk about brand monitoring, which is why you’re reading this little zinger today. Brand monitoring is soooo important.

It’s important because you really need to understand what exactly your audience is thinking about you and your brand to determine how well that trick pony is workin’ for ya.

As an up-and-coming entrepreneur, you simply don’t have the resources to hire a PR firm to sleuth among the masses and find out what folks are saying about you.

But that also doesn’t mean you have to lick up table scraps and settle for whatever trickle of information happens to find its way to you and your recliner. (C’mon, you know you’ve got your feet up while reading this!)

You can actually kick back in your recliner and relax, and pig out on bowlfuls of useful information about what people are saying and thinking about you and your brand. (Provided of course they’re thinking or saying anything at all!)

All you have to do is give social media a sloppy wet kiss, and embrace a few tech savvy tools to find out all the dirt you’d ever want (or not) to know.

Ready?

Drumroll please!

Now presenting the top 28 social media monitoring tools you must consider using. Using any of these bad boys as your trusty sidekick will ensure that no word ever typed escapes your radar.

Tools That Cost You Money

These are for you stealthy entrepreneurs that don’t mind paying a few bucks to make sure your trusty sidekick is well versed in the art of brand-won-do. (Yes I made that up.)

TruCast: Want to find out who’s who in the online realm and listen in on what they have to say about your brand? Visible Technologies’ TruCast does just that. Apart from giving you updated trends on online conversations, you’ll also be made aware of all the influential A-listers that people listen to when looking for new brands to try out. Maybe you can make friends and they’ll talk about you and your product or service!

SM2: Find out all the good as well as the bad things that your consumers, competitors, clients and partners are saying about your brand. Alterian (formerly Techrigy), the developer of this tool, leaves nothing to the imagination by crawling into blogs, wikis, embedded videos and social networks to deliver to you exactly the insights you need. Just don’t be heartbroken if you find some bad things… that implies you’ve got room for improvement!

Orchestra Platform: Made by TNS Cymfony and built on an NLP engine, the Orchestra Platform is quite unique. And from its sales material, can apparently beat the pants off of mere ‘keyword’ monitoring. Instead it monitors articles, paragraphs, and sentences, and analyzes grammar to determine how a tidbit of info relates to another, among other things.

CI Listen and CI Learn: Collective Intellect gives you to two tools that you can use singly or as a power duo. The former is a good way for you to track activity and emerging themes from across blogs, boards and news items, while the latter is a report available to subscribers that shows trends in consumer-generated information complete with graphs, charts and analysis from CI’s in-house digital communications experts. Sounds pretty neat, right? A little more geek speak than I need personally, but I know some of you thrive on that sort of intel.

Radian6: What’s the use of information if you can’t act on it? Radian6 allows you not just to listen in on conversations that involve you and your brand; it also gives you the opportunity to put the data into quantitative formats that you can base a plan of action around to create improvements.

Spark: Spiral 16 gives you a highly impressive tool to complement your PR strategies. It enables you to do three important things: determine the effectiveness of your social media strategy, mine huge amounts of data, and understand what goes on in online conversations beyond just the numbers.

Scout Labs: Buzz or sentiment? Sentiment or buzz? These are two different things that you have to be familiar with if you’re interested in tracking online conversations and how your brand is perceived. Scout Labs combines these two things to give you an in-depth feel of what people are really thinking.

Brandseye: All the bells and whistles of a typical brand tracker, however it’s got a handy filter that can be created to get rid of duplicate mentions. It’s also got a handy reputation scoring system that (due to their algorithm and data that you tag) can create a single rep score you can track and graph over the long haul.

Sentiment Metrics: This nice little tool monitors not just what’s said about you, but also reports on how it’s said as well. The software focuses on whether or not an online mention is negative, positive, or neutral, and neatly cleans and organizes content into tables and graphs that you can then take action on. Content is mined from literally millions of blogs, discussion boards and news and press release sites.

ViralHeat: ViralHeat offers more metrics than your geekly little heart could ever desire. Enabled with Twitter and Google Buzz, you can monitor your tweets (good-bye TweetBeep!) and dig really deep into analyzing your competition. It’s got a real-time tracking system that lets you keep on top of those that are talking about you like… right now. It’s also got a handy influencer feature so you can see whose words pack the most wallop, plus it also tracks sentiment too!

Nielsen Buzz Metrics: These smart guys offer a whole suite of products, including but not limited to brand tracking, brand auditing, and a brand scorecard. Tracking lets you see what’s up with your brand overall, audit lets you scope out its health over a particular time period, and scorecard shows you how you measure up to your competition. Not to mention they have a cool tool that lets you view any threats to your brand that may be floating around.

Webtrends: This is a suite of tools broken into four sub-groups. Listen, engage, measure, and decide, respectively. You get to analyze buzz, monitor blogs and video sharing sites in real-time, figure what content is making the biggest splash, and find out who your customer influencers are. And that’s just to name a few! Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think of it.

Biz360 Community: This tool gives you info on sentiment, conversation topics, and monitors your competition as well as offers a host of other interesting features. Quite pricey in my book, but hey… if it does what you want it to, who am I to argue?

Cision Social Media: This little gem offers 24/7 buzz reporting, as well as daily alerts via email. They are a well established brand monitoring company that’s been around for decades, so no worries they don’t know WTH they’re talking about. And all told, they’re said to monitor over tens of thousands of online forums, 100 million blogs, and 450 top rich media sites. Whew… that’s a lot!

Tools That Won’t Cost You A Lick

Yep, that means free! This is a list of tools you entrepreneurial sleuths that can’t bear to part with a little green can use to help you keep your brand self-awareness high. All you have to do is set up an account and set your alerts and you’re ready to roll.

Adjust the frequency of receiving the results so you get optimum awareness every time. (Nothing like getting 50 alerts in the space of 5 minutes… ugg!)

BlogPulse Conversation Tracker: AC Nielsen brings entrepreneurs something to make them really happy with this one. Search for a company and you’ll instantly be furnished with a threaded view of the conversations that mention that company. (Hint: Type in your own company name!) Get data from blogs, news posts and other online content that include you in their agenda.

Jodange: Cornell University’s Jodange TOM (Top of Mind) helps you sort out through all the flack and bluster online so you can get down to what’s really important—the sentiment that consumers, competitors, suppliers and bystanders have about your brand. This saves you the trouble of having to decipher the message behind the 1000+ search hits you found. What’s the point in all that monitoring if you can’t get to the point already?

Twendz: Waggener Edstrom lets you search up to 70 tweets at a time to identify popular sub-topics and keywords mentioned in them. You get the sentiment from the tweets and use that to craft new strategies to up your game.

Google Alerts: Start getting to know what’s fueling online conversations by using Google Alert to notify you of certain names, words or phrases that are mentioned. Google will knock on your inbox and tell you the latest, no questions asked. Choose settings that suit you best: set up the alerts so you receive news on a weekly, daily or real-time basis.

You can also have a comprehensive search of the term you want as well as look into specific content only. (Like blogs, news, online videos or online groups.) Highly customizable and to the point, Google Alerts is one of the greatest free apps ever to be applied to brand monitoring.

Oodle: Okay, here’s one super beautiful tool that lets you take a sneak peek into enemy camp. Get reliable intel about your competitors’ plans for the future by monitoring the types of jobs they post online. Set up RSS feeds to help you keep up with their current job vacancies… info that can tell you a lot about where a company is headed!

Google Video: Sort of like Google Alerts, only now your target is the tags or names included in online videos. Hint: Find out if you’re included.

Lexicon: How do you solve a problem like trending? You monitor it and find out how many times X number of people mention your specific search term on their walls. This Facebook app lets you know how your brand is doing in the bustling FB community.

BoardTracker: Search forums and discussion boards and get intel straight from the many people who actually talk about your brand “out loud”. Tweak it to set up alerts that will tell you when and how often people mention your particular search term.

Knowem: Find out if your brand has been hijacked on other social networks, and if it’s available, register it all across the board so that no one can ever claim to be you!

Monitter: It’s a wonderful play on the words monitor and Twitter. What it does is to search for three different terms at the same time and give you real-time results, and basically monitors the Twitterverse for all things you.

BlogPulse Trend Search: Another cool tool you just can’t do without is this Trend Searcher that allows you to create graphs that show you buzz trends for specific phrases, key words or links, so you have a visual idea of how you’re actually doing online. Plus, you can mix and match these search fields to compare and contrast the results for whatever purposes suit your fancy.

Seeking Alpha: Search for your company name or keywords using a technology that transcribes the conference calls of public companies. Not something I need per se, but hey… different strokes for different folks, remember?

Trendrr: Track and compare trends from social networks, blogs, and online video views and downloads with no fuss. Afterwards, you can share your favourite trends with friends or co-workers and discover new trends you might have missed out on that other people are already tracking.

Webtrends: This is a suite of tools broken into four sub-groups. Listen, engage, measure, and decide, respectively. You get to analyze buzz, monitor blogs and video sharing sites in real-time, figure what content is making the biggest splash, and find out who your customer influencers are. And that’s just to name a few! Check it out for yourself, and let me know what you think of it.

OK, so this is a relatively short list of handy brand monitoring tools. You should know that the bus doesn’t just stop here.

There are likely hundreds of tools out there—and more coming out on a regular basis—to help entrepreneurs and companies discover and decipher online conversations and monitor their brand.

So as with anything, try them out, test, test, test, and figure out what works for you.

And remember that whichever tools you use… USE them. USE the data. Don’t let the intel stagnate and become useless. Gather, analyze, and create a plan to kick your branding strategy into even higher gear.

And in the mean time, have questions? Know of other cool tools not listed here? Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comment box below.

Oh and please bookmark, share, and love this post like your great grandma Edith. Tyvm.

Warm regards,

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