Social Media Monitoring Tools have become a mainstay in the range of Online Marketing Tools. Due to the large number of providers, it is often difficult for companies to gain on overview of the market and find the appropriate tool for their needs. Once again, Goldbach Interactive has set itself the goal of identifying the top tools of 2013 and shedding some light on this heavily competed market.
Compared to the previous year, the growth-rate of the monitoring tool market has slowed down. The top tools have further established themselves, but competition in the market remains heavy. Tools are being bought up, retired, or completely overhauled – and new tools are constantly pushing their way into the market.
Of more than 300 identified Social Media Monitoring tools, the Top 5 tools were filtered out over the course of a several step process:
- The most important criterion for placement on our longlist is a complete coverage of sources (monitoring online news, blogs, forums, and social networks).
- A questionnaire with further criteria leads to the shortlist (i.e. monitoring as the primary focus of the tool, international source coverage,e-mail alerts, etc.)
- The Top 15 are selected through a detailed tool evaluation by Goldbach Interactive based on webinars, an additional questionnaire, and live tests (simultaneous access to demo-accounts, for which every provider must perform under the same predefined queries) .
- The tools with the best rating amongst all criteria are classified as Top 5.
The Top 5 Tools
Five tools were especially convincing. The following monitoring providers (ordered alphabetically) can hold their own in a head to head comparison, and offer impressive features in addition to wide source coverage and a range of analysis options.
Engagor: Community Management und Monitoring in one fell swoop
It’s all in the name: In the area of engagement and CRM, this tool scored the best. With a multitude of workflow functionalities, community management is an efficient task. Engagor also convinces with its source coverage in Eastern Europe (an increasingly important market in the monitoring space, which was taken as a sample for this report’s evaluation). A clear shortcoming: navigation is a bit confusing. The trial account of the tool was very convincing in terms of speed and actually makes real time monitoring possible.
Heartbeat (Sysomos/Markedwired): Established Analytics Tool
The tool offers excellent analytics capabilities and engagement functionalities. While the source coverage in Central Europe is very strong, the results from the Eastern Europe sample could be improved. Additional advantages lie in the easy usability and comprehensive, advanced functionalities. Heartbeat is one of the few tools that simultaneously offers language and country filters. The only weakness: As an established player in the market, development of the platform has noticeably slowed.
Radarly (Linkfluence): Hot Newcomer
Radarly is THE new kid on the block: impressing through a good user interface, simple filter options, speed, and comprehensive owned media statistics, the tool is attracting a lot of positive attention. The overall impression is complemented by a wide range of engagement functionalities and good service. The only possible weakness lies in Radarly’s narrower source coverage compared to the average for Top 5 Tools.
Synthesio: Easy Navigation
The ease of use and intuitive nature of Synthesio stand out in the tool. While integration in CRM is possible, engagement functionalities are neglected. Strengths lie in source coverage of Eastern Europe, the use of new KPI’s and interesting source categorization (through predefined categories). An additional advantage: the option to have the sentiment of posts manually rated by the provider.
Talkwalker (Trendiction): Data Quality
The second positive surprise: Talkwalker shows well developed analysis functionalities and is definitely ahead in the area of service. Especially the source coverage in the Eastern European space (random sample) was especially convincing. Through a proprietary crawler, Trendiction ensures an excellent standard in terms of data quality and even serves as a data provider for many other monitoring providers. Only in the area of engagement does the tool still show room for improvement. Especially exciting are the comprehensive filter and reporting possibilities.
Top 15 Tools
In addition to the top tools, several providers shine through individual functionalities.
Brandwatch narrowly missed the Top 5 and is especially compelling with the ability to customize individual dashboard tabs. At the time of rating, the owned media analysis “Channels” which has now been integrated with their latest release, could unfortunately not yet be tested. A promising update Update
, which could make Brandwatch a favorite tool.
Not easy to rate: Radian6. A high profile on the market and worldwide presences clearly justify consideration. Information was provided by Cision distribution partner for Radian6. Radian6 continues to convince users with versatile functionalities and analytical possibilities. The mature engagement console is a strong equal to the Top 5 providers in terms of interaction capabilities, but the tool is demanding in terms of usability.
UMT Delta stood out with integration possibilities for the monitoring of radio, TV and print media, while Simplify360 caught our attention with its versatile engagement and workflow functionalities. Their source coverage for Europe, however, is still lacking.
Meltwater Buzz was again also a top contender this year, with sophisticated Social CRM possibilities. Also worth mentioning are SoDash and Buzzcapture which shine through innovative ideas like automatic answers to certain types of posts and new reporting capabilities.
Several full-service providers were already identified in 2012. These solutions place importance on customer needs, account setup, support and data processing instead of just providing a software license. Over the course of the last months this segment has changed: several providers parked their services or were not reachable.(Ethority and Cogia, however, contacted us after publishing the German version of this report and confirmed that their service is still active.) Synthesio, on the other hand, no longer only focuses on a full service offering, but has moved into a license driven business model.
bc.lab is a provider with a compelling full-service offering. The platform is well laid out and offers precise sentiment analysis through manual screening of posts, in addition to a high standard of data quality. This makes the tool especially suited for the monitoring of difficult terms.
Additional tools, which could not be rated according to the predetermined categories, but still offer interesting solutions are: Attensity Analyze, ARGUSAvenue and Adobe Social.
Accurate Sentiment Analysis
With roots in text analysis, Attensity Analyze positions itself as Social Media intelligence and analytics tool. The provider especially focuses on the qualitative analysis of discovered posts and less on the quantitative criteria of Social Media conversations. The tool provides the possibility of comparing individual topics about products via an innovative, automatic sentiment analyses. The sentiment is determined based on sentence structure and won us over with its high success rate. The less than modern interface is a bit deterring, on the other hand.
The Swiss Market
After Swiss tool provider Netbreeze was bought up this past year by Microsoft, Argus der Presse has built out its classic media monitoring offering with a Social Media solution. ARGUSAvenue focuses on the Swiss market, monitoring a range of local sources except forums. In addition to the possibility of determining sentiment in a general sense, and also in relation to the company, Argus offers the compelling option of an editorial service. In terms of analytics capabilities, the service still has room for improvement. With its local focus, Argus could be an interesting alternative for Swiss clients.
Social Media marketing as a holistic approach
Adobe offers a marketing suite, Adobe Social, which is composed of a diverse set of components including a Social Media monitoring solution. The strengths of the monitoring tool are apparent in the area of workflow, the measurement of campaigns, and through the good integration possibilities with other Adobe software. This makes the tool especially suited to steer several online marketing activities with one tool. Areas that could use improvement include the earned media monitoring space.
Top Trends this Year
Three trends became apparent during the performance of this analysis, in addition to the continued development of the tools: the individualization of dashboards (all the way up to modular composition of entire tools), sophisticated reporting functionalities, and broader coverage of sources.
The 2012 report already included several tools with dashboards or graphics that could be individualized. In the last 12 months, many tools have made progress in this area. Radian6 was a pioneer in 2011, with widget based data visualization. Brandwatch has also built out the possibility of customizing every tab in the dashboard with individually selected components. SM2 and Engagor modulare Dashboards an. Insbesondere Synthesio und Radarly also recently began offering modular dashboards.
E-mail alerts and automatic, standardized reports have been considered basic functionalities of monitoring tools since some time. Now certain providers are going one step further and offer sophisticated, individual reporting options: Buzzcapture allows users to create a report by “Drag and Drop”, which can be reached via an individual URL and is automatically updated. UMT Delta, Engagor and Synthesio also have the ability to put together individual reports. With Talkwalkerit’s even possible to export reports into a custom PowerPoint presentation template.
Broader Source Coverage
The top tools of the report already draw on a very extensive base of sources (next to the classic earned media channels, also allowing the monitoring of connected owned media profiles). Since the last report, a clear building out of the source basis is noticeable. Tools like Talkwalker, UMT Delta and ARGUSAvenue allow the integration of radio, TV, and print media. By now it is standard practice that client wishes for specific sources can be taken into account. SM2, Radian6 and Radarly go one step further and even allow users to add sources themselves. New social media platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, or Foursquare are already being searched by most monitoring crawlers. Engagoris a pioneer in this space, and has shown quick reaction in the past years integrating new platforms.
Results from the Live Test
This year’s Social Media Monitoring Tool Report is topped off through a live monitoring test. Each provider was challenged with the same search queries, to search the social web from the 13. – 19. of May. The infographic shows, which providers were set up with a demo account and took part in the live test.
The following results were observed through the test:
- Not one query resulted in two tools finding the same number of posts.
- Tool features and functions strongly vary.
- Few tools offer the possibility to set a language and country filter at the same time.
- The discovery speed for finding posts turned out varying results: the fastest tool needed 15 seconds, the slowest made «Realtime Monitoring» impossible with a 40 minute delay.
- In regards to the speed of loading graphical analyses and switching between individual tabs, performance leaves a lot to be wished for in some cases. Results ranged from real time navigation to load times of several minutes.
There are discrepancies between the indications of the provider and the results of the live test (i.e. in the source coverage), which resulted in a reclassification of the Top 5 favorites after the live test.
Testing a tool is the best way to find the appropriate solution
All of the tested platforms can be considered Social Media monitoring tools, but the results could not be more varied. Every tool offers individual functionalities and differs in focus and approach from other monitoring solutions. While the focus of some is more on engagement and workflow, others are betting on developed analytics and reporting functions. This makes the search for an appropriate tool more difficult.
Organizations must therefore first look inwards and analyze their own needs. Based on this, favorites can be selected to find out with which tool the demands are best addressed, optimally through testing.
Development of the tool market
It is interesting to observe how the tool landscape has changed within one year. Two trends can be identified here: on one hand, well known providers are establishing themselves further with their tools and developing functions and features for breadth. On the other hand, small and specialized tools are appearing which are compelling with their clear focus on specific functions.
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