20 free tools to evaluate social media
One of the first resources we created when starting Rabbit in early 2010 was a list of 20 free social media evaluation tools. Not measurement, evaluation. Tools that will give you some form of meaningful data that you can use in reports. And ones that don’t cost anything.
Fast forward almost two years and a lot of that list is out of date, with many of the originals no longer being around or having ‘upgraded’ to full paid for services. As a result, it’s time for a refresh.
This is by no means an extensive list, there are other tools around in addition to these, but even a few of them together will provide you with meaningful intelligence. The 20 are as follows:
1 – Alexa.com
Gives you stats on websites, including global rank, country rank, number of sites linking in, and good basic audience data including demographics.
2 – Amplicate
Like a lot of services, Amplicate operates a fremium model. A quick search, which will give you a ‘hate’ vs ‘love’ snapshot for a brand is free. Pay $19 and you get a year’s worth of data. And for $199 you can download various industry reports.
Amplicate also has a blog with various useful bits of information (for example, apparently half of online chatter about Foursquare in 2011 was negative ).
3 – Board Reader
Board Reader will search for mentions across forums (including sites like Quora) and will also churn out a chart based on mentions over time.
4 – Blogscope
One of the giants in professional sentiment analysis alongside the likes of Radian6 and Lithium is Canadian research firm Sysomos. Sysomos originated from University of Toronto research and in fact, some of that is still live on Blogscope.
We’ve had periodic problems connecting to the site, but when its live, it is good for a free service. The charts it produces aren’t pretty, but they are useful.
5 – Facebook Insights
This should be standard for anyone who works in social media. Free to access for any Page admin, this provides an in-depth picture of fans’ interactions with your page.
This allows you to post content at the most optimum time, to identify the type of content your fans engage with the most and gives a pretty accurate demographic breakdown. Knowing where your fans come from and what they do on your page when they get there allows you to tailor your strategy more effectively.
6 – Follower Wonk
Follower Wonk makes sense of yours, or someone else’s Twitter feed. You start with 150 credits, with every search costing 30-40 credits (the idea being that after that you pay).
Follower Wonk is useful in giving you the equivalent of the Facebook ‘friends of friends’ metric, you can dissect a Twitter feed to see what type of users they reach in terms of followers and influence.
7 – Feed Compare
A lot of blogs run their RSS feeds through the Google-owned Feedburner. If they do, you can run them through Feed Compare to look at subscriber numbers – arguably a more useful metric than visitors as this measures engaged users who subscribe to a blog via a feed.
8 – Google Insights
One that is easily overlooked is Google’s Insights tool. This is not only useful in tracking brands, but also sector specific areas and how they work across different regions.
For example, Google News – cheese vs milk vs butter in the UK
9 – How Sociable
Though as with many of these services, the idea is to get you to subscribe (starting at $19 a month), a free search will give you a range of influence metrics across different social networks. Useful if you track over time, or are doing a quick competitive search.
In addition to running a blog and news search engine, Ice Rocket has a trends tool. This allows you to compare a number of search terms, giving you a basic graph of how they compare in share of voice.
The three main sentiment scoring systems, Klout is trying to establish itself as the de facto industry standard, while Kred is the newest entrant and one that shows a lot of promise.
Services like Klout do have flaws (we’ve explored these more in our Rabbit Feed on influence), but both Klout and Peerindex are useful for the ability to create lists which can be public or private. Essentially you can set up a league table of brands across a certain industry sector and track their scores over time.
12 – Mention Map
A great visual tool, Mention Map tells you who an Twitter user speaks to the most. Good for tracking the influencers of influencers.
13 – Social Mention
An excellent free social search engine with basic analytics including sentiment and top keywords. Recommended.
14 – Statbrain
Very often you will want to estimate the traffic of a site where you’ve been featured. Statbrain will give you an approximation of how many weekly visitors any site gets.
With Instagram breaking into the ranks of top tier social networks, there will be more of a need to analyse Instagram activity. Statigram is a free service with a number of different elements. You can view Instagram images via your browser, and set up a custom URL to direct people to (e.g. http://statigr.am/bmibaby).
You can manage your followers, and you can also get useful data about the type of engagement your posts are getting, your most committed followers and the times of day to post.
When is the best time to tweet to hit the optimum number of followers? Timely gives you the answer. A more sophisticated service also looking at Facebook and giving you data on influencers is Crowd Booster http://crowdbooster.com/, which comes in at $20 a month for 10 accounts.
17 – Twitter Counter
Another free service with premium (paid for) features, this tracks your Twitter follower count over time. To get data on retweets and mentions, prices start at $15 a month.
18 – Tweetreach
As the name says, Tweetreach will tell you how far a tweet has gone in terms of reach (no of people who in theory saw it) and who the most influential tweeters of a certain term are. The first 50 results are free, making it useful to get a real-time snapshot of activity. If you want a more in-depth report, that will cost you $20
19 – Trendistic
Trendistic tracks Twitter trends over time. Input a search term to see how it’s performed. You can also embed a code to have a chart change dynamically on your site.
20 – Visual.ly
Visual.ly is a kind of DIY info graphics service. In Visual.ly labs there is a tool meant to be fun in which you compare your Twitter profile against someone else’s, but this can just as easily be used for brands.
Finally a word on consistency and tracking these tools over time. You will only get the best out of them if you use them regularly.
For example, whatever the benefits or otherwise of Klout, it does give you the ability to benchmark yourself against your peers and also track progress on a week by by week basis to see if you are improving or if things are getting worse. As a result, our advice would be to choose a handful of the above tools and stick with them.
We’ve saved this list as a Delicious Stack, you can access it here
- A guide to social media influence (liesdamnedliesstatistics.com)
- Would You Rather Have Klout… or Kred? (socialtimes.com)
- You Might Have Klout, But What’s Your Kred? (techcrunch.com)
- Social Media Digest:Kred launch, Heinz Facebook and Hacking (umpf.co.uk)