Though most brands prefer to leave the handling of their social media function to expert agencies, there are still quite a few tools available for managers who want to take a more hands-on approach.
exchange4media lists six useful free tools that address several different facets of social media marketing. Many of the tools in the list will have overlaps, but each has certain unique characteristics as well.
HootSuite is a content management platform that allows users to handle multiple profiles across websites such as Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Foursquare, MySpace, WordPress, TrendSpottr and Mixi. The premium version gives more functionality, though the free version has enough features to make it to this list. This tool helps you schedule updates, assign tasks to your company’s social media managers and post and reply to content when it’s most convenient for you. You can also set up multiple tabs to track trending topics and hashtags. The free version also includes some basic analytics, including URL click stats and profile overviews. Another similar management tool is TweetDeck, which was recently bought by Twitter itself. It offers most of the functionalities of HootSuite, though it only supports Twitter and has no analytics built in.
Probably one of the most powerful free tools available online, Social Mention is a social media search engine that monitors over 100 social media sites. With a simple interface, users just need to type in the name of the brand they want to track and will be able to see all mentions and posts related to that brand. The level of analysis of the data is also impressive for a free app. It assigns every comment or mention with a positive, neutral or negative rating. Social Mention also provides you analysis across four areas – reach, strength (number of times the brand is mentioned), sentiment, passion (based on the unique and repeat advocates).
Another social search engine, Topsy is dedicated to those interested in only what people are talking about their brand on Twitter. It comes with a cleaner interface than Social Mention and provides a comparison feature that can be used to compare activity level of up to three different brand handles, hashtags or keywords. Users can also search for links, photos and influencers.
Like HootSuite, brand impact calculator HowSociable is available in a free version that allows you to track 12 social sites, including Tumblr and WordPress. The catch is that access to Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, along with 21 more platforms, requires a pro account. Still, it grants a unique perspective to a brand’s activity online. What HowSociable does well is that it allows brand managers to figure out the level of activity on each platform. So, for example, if Jet Airways has a HowSociable score of 1.0 on LinkedIn, out of a total possible of 10, the brand will know it has to improve on that particular platform. HowSociable also provides information on “High Impact” mentions and gives an overall “magnitude” score (out of 10 again) based on the brand’s overall performance across all platforms.
This search engine solely focuses on hashtags. Tagboard searches through Twitter, Instagram, Vine, etc., and is a useful tool if you want to determine the effectiveness of your hashtag campaign. It also allows the manager to directly interact with a user or retweet, comment or share a post from the “board” itself. With hashtag marketing an increasingly common phenomenon, Tagboard’s specialised focus is a welcome addition to any marketer’s toolbox.
Klout was the first major social influence measurement tool on the internet and though it has its share of critiques and detractors, it does a decent job of giving a bird’s eye view of your social standing. Klout uses Twitter, Facebook, Google+, LinkedIn, Foursquare, Wikipedia, and Instagram data to create Klout user profiles that are assigned a unique ‘Klout Score’. This Klout Score is a number between one and100, with the higher the score, the more influential the user. A user’s influence is based on a number of factors, including Twitter following count, follower count, retweets, list memberships, spam/ dead accounts following the user, the influence level of people who retweet or mention the user and unique mentions. This information is blended with data from a number of other social network followings and interactions to come up with the Klout Score. Apart from Klout, there are a couple of other influence measurement tools that a manager can try like PeerIndex and Kred. Just remember that each has its limitations, so don’t think everything that the score might tell you is gospel.