In the past year our review of the most important tools for social media monitoring has been met with great interest. For this reason we’re happy to put together a new edition and broaden our scope: we’ve covered eleven new tools and a plethora of extensions and updates in our testing.
Social media monitoring is important as a preparatory step for a social media strategy. It is used extensively in identifying relevant platforms, topics, and influencers
. Additionally, social media monitoring can be used for reputation management
and in opening dialogue
with interested target groups, putting together topical analyses such as implemented campaigns or strategies, and for social CRM purposes
. Which tool is appropriate for which challenge? Using concrete results gathered from client projects, we tested the most important platforms once again.
Leader from 2011 still better, exciting newcomer rising
The leading social media monitoring systems Sysomos Heartbeat
have further improved their offerings and have continued to differentiate themselves through extensive focusing of their offers. Salesforce has purchased Radian6 and is developing the tool further in the direction of a social CRM. Sysomos is showing a promising tendency of developing in the realms of social media measurements and analytics.
Finally the lower price segments in the market have seen the development of some useful tools.
One shortcoming is common among all of the test platforms: The source coverage is never complete.
- uberVU and Viralheat are now suited for use in Europe and offer a very good price/performance ratio in regards to simple monitoring and basic analytics.
- BrandWatch is the biggest surprise of the year. The excellent UI and solid engineering of the tool already drew our attention last year, however it was eliminated due to the lack of workflow capabilities. BrandWatch took this input and has integrated a very good solution to this issue.
- Another discovery is Engagor: Thanks to a clear UI and practical analyses, this is also one of our favorites.
Nevertheless, all of the tools deliver a significant advantage over third party platform and aggregators. Since each system brings its own strengths to the table, it makes sense for firms interested in social media monitoring to take a close look at the different tools and to choose one that best fits their needs.
We’ve expanded our shortlist from 2010 with a number of new offerings and other discoveries. This culminated in a list of 31 tools which were filtered through a number of qualification criteria
. An important factor to us, for example, was that the tool developers were purely a software group, and not a market research organisation delivering half manually created, non-transparent analyses. Agencies and organisations should be able to independently execute set-up and run day to day operations, as well as make changes to the system in an uncomplicated manner. Tools must meet one of a series of basic criteria, including capabilities for filtering by country, integrated workflow processes or complete source coverage
(news, blogs, forums, Twitter, Facebook, YouTube). Based on these stringent criteria, the following social media monitoring tools were dropped from our testing process
Arvato online services, Attensity Respond, bc.lab, Beevolve, Brandchats, Brandmonitor.Position2, Buzzient Enterprise, Buzzom, Cision, Custom Scoop, Dialogix, Ethority, Infegy, Jive, Lithium, Mutual Mind, Netbreeze, Netvibes, Spiral 16, Sprout Social, Synthesio, trackur, Visible und Vocus.
These tools certainly have their strengths
, however we were not convinced by their overall offer
Unfortunately, we were unable to evaluate Alterian
since we were not offered test-access after numerous enquiries. Meltwater Buzz
has been evaluated at a later time, since Meltwater Group improved its product in the meantime with an importantrelease. However, the updated and improved version of Meltwater Buzz persuaded us with a neat combination of monitoring and engagement possibilities
and is by far more than a solid solution for companies that don’t want to track classic news sites with a social media monitoring tool.
Social media management tools like BuddyMedia, Wildfire and Shoutlet
were not included
in our analysis since moderation of Twitter and Facebook presences is the priority among these tools. Monitoring tools, on the other hand, are focused on external platforms like blogs, forums, and other external content on the (social) web.
Top 2: Best of ClassThe price of 1000 CHF or more per month may be high with Sysomos Heartbeat and Radian6, but in comparison with the competition, the results of these providers are by far the most competitive.
Sysomos Heartbeat: Unbeatable usability, European orientation
This tool was already one of our two favourites last year, especially because of the well-executed, completely self-explanatory user interfaces. Pro: The tool automatically assembles Social Profiles, which can be manually expanded and serve as a foundation for filter options. A detailed user analysis is thereby easily done. The source coverage may not be perfect, but it is leading in our target countries, especially Germany, Austria, Switzerland, and Eastern Europe. Sysomos is especially strong in covering blogs, forums, and traditional news portals. Additionally, the tool has first class country and language filtering options. Sentiment recognition is still missing from the most important European languages (so far limited to English), however according to Sysomos, the launch of this feature is imminent. We’re looking forward to it.
Sysomos has shown strong progress in developing capabilities (partially at our request) and eliminating weaknesses. E-mail reports, notifications, and workflow capabilities are significantly better, with additional improvements planned. Tweets can be published and Facebook walls moderated directly through the tool, and recently it has become possible to perform detailed analyses on competitors’ Facebook profiles. Sysomos also introduced us to some exciting new features relating to social media measurement which are planned for release by the end of the year.
A disadvantage of the tool is the limited access to data on Facebook and Twitter. In the case of data intensive searches for global brands, the typical API-access does not suffice. At this point, firehose-level access would be necessary, which offers access to all of the data on the platform. Additionally, a Wildcard Search feature is missing, which searches for keywords in composite words such as “iPhone3GS”, “iPhone4”, or “#iPhone” and is often a feature among other tools.
Radian6: Practical engagement console, best results with Facebook and Twitter
The second place candidate also made significant improvements
to its already stellar performance in last year’s review. We were impressed by the tool’s flexibility
: it’s possible to freely configure dashboards through a selection of widgets
which can be set up quickly and encourage explorative analysis. The workflow capabilities have matured, allowing Tweets and blog comments to be addressed directly from the Radian6 dashboard
. Radian6 offers the most comprehensive range of capabilities. Community Managers, for example, will find the engagement console
addition to the typical Radian6 dashboard very practical. The console allows individual posts to be categorised and answered accordingly. We recommend this console set-up to all monitoring tool developers. Additionally, Radian6 achieves a high level of performance with good source coverage
The strengths of Radian6
are especially apparent with Twitter and Facebook
, thanks to firehose-level access
to platform data, an advantage that to our knowledge no other developer shares. Customer service is also very responsive
A big weakness for Radian6
is the cluttered layout caused by the numerous widgets
that can be pieced together, a price paid for the flexibility of the system. The flash based interface is a further technical weakness
. The fact that every Widget must be individually configured with keywords increases
the manual workload
, which furthermore can’t be accomplished without extensive training. The tool continues to the surprise of even our own team with hidden capabilities we didn’t even know existed.
This past year, Radian6 was purchased by Salesforce
and is now part of an even bigger company. The development in the direction of a CRM is inevitable, and matches both the process and the tool itself. We'll have to wait and see whether the high level of customer service will remain for mid-sized clients or if close cooperation will be prioritised towards bigger customers. We hope that Salesforce does not lose the market oriented perspective that has made the tool a success. If the problems in limiting by country are resolved, the tool would be a more than attractive alternative to Sysomos for Swiss firms.
The fact that Radian6 does not work through a social profile system brings about the shortcoming of not being able to sort posts by country or language. This makes Radian6 inappropriate for global brands that wish to operate with the tool on multiple local levels. The Flash issue has been recognised by the service provider, and an HTML based dashboard is under development.
Most Promising 2011BrandWatch unifies several advantages of Sysomos and Radian 6. It is as easy to use as Sysomos and delivers the best user interface of all tools reviewed, with flexible, well laid out dashboards the user can piece together through a Drag’n’Drop system. Workflows are now also really living up to their name as well. The fact that the decision already has to be made in the setup phase which languages one wishes to track is both an advantage and a disadvantage.
Engagor is a simple, markedly well laid out tool with reports that allow for quick and uncomplicated identification of points for the improvement of initiatives. This truly lightens the workload by simplifying an otherwise analysis intensive process.
We noticed BrandsEye due to the relevancy measurement system it uses. At the beginning of the process, the user categorises Mentions according to relevance, after which the tool quickly learns and expands. This categorisation process is cumbersome, but pays off in the long run. Several unique capabilities and a highly differentiated sentiment ranking system are further advantages. The interface is a bit “over engineered”, however the tool is worth taking a look at.
These tools are serious competition for the two best in the class, but all three must improve a few key areas before representing a truly competitive offer.
Supertools in the Value Category
Small, disruptive candidates are making their way into the market from the bottom up, much like Google Analytics did in its time. These Tools may not suffice for a strategic monitoring effort
, but are perfect for small to medium-sized businesses as an entry-level tool
at a fantastic price/performance ratio. Testing
through the Freemium subscriptions offered (basic functionality free, additional features at an upgrade price) is absolutely worth it
We tested this solid tool, even though it lacked workflow capabilities, due to its good collection of convincing features.
Companies looking to gain an overview of their position in the market through pure monitoring without a significant monetary investment
would be perfectly matched with this tool.
A very interesting and highly user friendly tool
, however source categorisation seems to be rather random. Why Twitter/Facebook and Blogs/Forums are being split remains unclear. An overall analysis is therefore unfortunately not possible. The interface, however, is great
There are several good tools, each with their own strengths and weaknesses, currently on the market. The perfect solution does not exist, but all tools greatly simplify monitoring work and result in significant knowledge gains for an organisation. Take the time to test different systems; the money and time investment are quickly made up in the long run. Goldbach Interactive is happy to support your organisation in selecting and implementing the appropriate tools for your social media strategy.
Mike Schwede is the Director of Social Media and Dominic Stöcklin Head of Social Media Monitoring at Goldbach Interactive. Together with the social media team, they develop strategies and campaigns for social media and oversee content, dialogue and communities.
Mike Schwede: E-Mail, Twitter
Dominic Stöcklin: E-Mail, Twitter