Tools that are Worth Paying for. 

So, you want to get social? You realize your business cannot live without it. Kudos to you for having a strategy and a plan and for not just putting up Facebook and Twitter pages. But now you realize how time-consuming it will be to drive real, measurable success. So let me tell you how we can determine the right tools to help us operate our social media practice. 

First, think about your core operations. Most probably, it could be three prime objectives: disseminating content (both owned and curated media), identifying influencers (to yield earned press), and capturing performance metrics.   


It makes sense to start with a communications strategy and to address content tools. Content is core to your social endeavors. It is the vehicle to get your story out and to engage with your target audience. Consider having a blog–a place to seed your owned media so that you can use other social channels to direct people to your story. I use Blogger. It is intuitive, and it starts at no cost. I recommend this content management system for its simplicity and versatility. Another good one is WordPress.  

Blogs aren’t the only platforms for disseminating content. 

Blogs aren’t the only platforms for disseminating content. Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, SlideShare, Pinterest, and Twitter are all leading platforms for content sharing. With all these free options, it’s not likely you’ll choose to pay for another option–though ONEsite, Jive, and Lithium allow you to own all functionality and data, unlike Facebook and Google+. 

And once you have your content platforms determined, I suggest you use a social media publishing tool. Examples are Awareness, Shoutlet, and HootSuite, just to name a few. These publishing tools allow you to schedule posts across many social channels, manage responses, and view metrics on impressions and reach. They are accommodating; not only do they manage the workflow of posting and responding, but they also fine-tune your communications to optimize sharing and engagement. 



Next, you will need a social media monitoring tool. There is no perfect monitoring tool, but I highly recommend you use one. When deciding which one is best for you, it is crucial to understand how each device collects data. Does it receive everything out there or just a representative sample? Also, determine how you are going to use the data. Are you merely recording measurable results to assess your success and judge your social implementations over time, or are you looking to monitor conversations to drive actionable interaction? 

Success in social media means optimizing the sharing of your brand. So when you think about getting your brand and content shared, where do you get the biggest bang? This is an old marketing question; it’s one that caused powerful PR agencies to emerge a while back. But in the digital world, things are a bit different. A noncelebrity, nonpower journalist can have much influence. You need a tool to identify power users. The most popular ones are Klout and PeerIndex. But I think these are not as great as their hype. Here’s why. Take a most influential social media personality–Robert Scoble. His KloutPeerIndex, and Kred scores are 84, 75, and 954, respectively. All are incredibly high relative to the scale for each platform. But what if you are a brand in the fashion, healthy eating, or consumer packaged goods categories? Scoble has little influence in these verticals. To address the impact that looks at importance as a typical query, I suggest looking into Appinions and Kred. 



There is one other bit of information that I often need to know: What is the number of unique visitors to a specific site? Both Quantcast and Compete give you a good bit of free information in this regard. Granted, it is not as accurate and detailed as comScore, but it is free. 

And last but not least is the tool I need but do not have. That would be an open social media dashboard. It will come, but it is not available yet. It is crucial to be able to tell executives how things are performing in one report, one screenshot. Today, we do this by gluing together data from several sources–many of them were mentioned earlier. This requires a decent amount of manual effort. As social media matures, I expect to see a platform that can take disparate data, correlate it, and produce one meaningful report.  

Social Media Monitoring and Metrics 

Alterian Appinions Brandwatch Collective Intellect Compete comScore Crowd Factory eCairn InsideView Klout Kred Meltwater PeerIndex Quantcast Radian6 Social Radar Sysomos Vitrue Wildfire 

Content Dissemination 

Awareness Buddy Media Disqus Facebook HootSuite HubSpot Instagram Involver Jive LinkedIn Lithium Meetup North Social ONEsite Shoutlet Telligent Twitter Twitpic YouTube 

Other Social Tools 

Bitly Enterprise Facebook Reach Generator Gigya StumbleUpon Ustream 





$100/month for user account 

$500/month for standard topic profile containing up to 10,000 items/month 

$1,000/month for topic profile containing up to 25,000 items/month 

Note: A topic profile is a collection of keywords and phrases you determine to search the breadth and depth of a brand or subject of interest. One topic profile is ideal for each company being monitored. Items per month refer to the number of search results obtained. 

Ideal User 

Large companies with in-depth social media monitoring and reporting needs, and extensive conversations online surrounding brand and industry. 

Blog Coverage 

More than 100 million blog sites. 

Video Coverage 

YouTube, Google Video, Metacafe, Revver, Veoh, Dailymotion, Bebo, Grouper, BrightCove and many more. 

Photo Coverage 


Mainstream Media Coverage 

Mainstream media coverage from more than 20,000 online sources. 

Social Media Coverage 

Twitter, Google Buzz, LinkedIn, Facebook fan pages, public discussion forums, and opinion sites. 


Multiple languages are supported, including; English, French, Italian, German, simple Chinese, Korean, and Japanese. 

Result Email Alerts 

The ability for users to get an email or Jabber compatible IM notifications for specific topic profiles at intervals they select. 

Number of Keywords 

No limit to keywords when setting up topic profiles. It includes keyword combinations, negative keywords. 

Number of Search Results Retrieved 

Based on plan selection 


Data is captured in real-time as discovered and delivered to dashboard analysis widgets. Includes text, pictures, and video inside the dashboard. 


Uncover the influencers online by topic, based on user-determined formula weightings. 


Numerous analysis widgets are up to analyze within a date range or for pre-set days, including 

Conversation Cloud (pulls the 50 most common words associated with your mentions), 

Topic Analysis (breaks the remarks down by the terms within them) and Trending Analysis (shows how social mentions change over time). 

Graphs & Data 

Clickable graphs allow for more available data analysis; from trends and influencer analysis to social media metrics and data segmentation, there is an abundance of ways you can graph your data. 

Sentiment Ratings 

Automatically determines whether a post is positive or negative; however, users can override ranking. 


Free training/support. All users are required to take a training session before use. 

Workflow Management 

Can assign tasks to people, manage task lists, categorize posts based on priority or type of posts, add notes, pull source information, raw export data, and set alerts. 

Sorting Capabilities 

Can sort posts by influence, publish date, comment count, unique commenters, and calculated engagement. Results can also be filtered by country and by media type.  

Ease of Use 

Can quickly and easily slice and dice data to find that which is most applicable to your brand; 30 days of immediate historical data is available with each topic profile, while active profiles have an extensive archive at no additional cost. 

Reporting Capabilities 

Some reports available include: 

weekly post volume (shows the overall chatter about your company and brand),  

positive and negative sentiment spikes,  

engagement statistics (percentage of the total post volume you engage with and respond to), sales leads,  

industry discussions and share of conversation among competitors.