My Favorite FREE Social Media Analytics Tools
Have I mentioned how much fun I had presenting at OpenCamp 2010? Such an amazing group of content creators and site builders. I’m even more ecstatic that this conference was held in the Dallas area - really highlighted the great scene we have here for Web & Social Media.
While I was there, I had the idea to do a BoF (that’s "birds of a feather") session on free social media analytics tools, which turned out to be very popular - so much so that I worked them into my main presentation right after! As promised then, here’s all the links I showed, with my take on each. Enjoy!
General Social Media Tools
SocialMention -This one’s a great place to start for any study, because it gives a good general overview across social networks. Most of the “scores” it gives are just basic math, but they give you some idea of the strength or passion of the conversation around your given topic. I really like to focus on the top related keywords and top authors (aka voices) - those can give you a good idea of the main themes of the conversation.
Alterian Techrigy SM2 - If you could use the same tools as the big boys for FREE, why wouldn’t you? Alterian SM2 (formerly Techrigy) is normally a paid platform, but they do offer a limited free account. The good news is that they don’t limit any of your reports, so you can slice ‘n’ dice the data in tons of great and interesting ways. The free account does have two limits: it will only pull up to 1,000 results for any given search, and you’re only allowed up to 5 keyword/phrase searches.
RowFeeder - These guys are pretty new to the space, but I’m really interested in where they’re going with social media analytics. They provide a similar keyword/phrase mining service like many other solutions, but they will output directly into Excel or Google Docs spreadsheets - a medium many marketers are already familiar with. And since its in Excel, you can easily run your own custom reports - counts, graphs and searches are all very easy from that start. They have a Freemium version as well, and it also caps out at 1,000 results for a given search. I don’t think they have a limit on the number of searches you can have running, though.
Important sidenote: For all of these Freemium solutions, you need to be really careful with your searches since you only have 1,000 results to work with. Make sure to filter out ANYTHING you’re not looking for - especially:
- Non-English results (if you’re not interested in other languages)
- Negative keywords - terms that if present in a result will cause that one to NOT be included in the database
- Spam domains - as best you can filter these out. Removing spam from a social media monitoring tool can be like a digital game of Whack-a-Mole.
Trendistic (formerly known as Twist) - Twitter’s got a ton of one-trick ponies in free analytics, and they have more free tools than any other platform because it’s an open network with an easy-to-build-on API. Trendistic is a perfect example - it will show you a chronological trend graph for any given keyword or user on Twitter. Nothing more, nothing less.
BackTweets - Easily my favorite of the Twitter one-trick-ponies, this one will show you any tweets linking to a given URL (in my presentation I said it would only work for domains, but it turns out I was incorrect on that - it’ll search URLs, but if you have parameters, it has trouble finding those links, and most Facebook URLs use parameters heavily). The best part is that it will run down any bit.ly or otherwise shortened links, which baffles many larger search engines.
Twitter StreamGraphs - Jeff Clark of Neoformix does a ton of great work in dynamic infographics, but this one is my favorite. Visualizing the data like this can often give you better insights than just your usual bar/pie/line graph.
Official Facebook Statistics Page - Sometimes, the simplest tools are the best. Facebook keeps this page updated, and even swaps out some of these stats from time to time. My favorite stat from here is that more than 30 billion pieces of content (web links, news stories, blog posts, notes, photo albums, etc.) shared each month.
AllFacebook.com - These guys are the Mashable of Facebook - they’ve easily been one of the most on-top-of-it sources I’ve found for Facebook stories both important and trivial. And while the news is great, I’m really most interested in…
AllFacebook’s Statistics Tools - Great tools here for measuring fan counts on Pages, or users on Applications, with growth/decline trends and charts for both. Running a comparison among competitors for a client’s Facebook page gives them an idea of where they stand against the competition, and how big the overall audience is for their vertical.
Yahoo Pipes - I’m assuming everyone’s already heard of Google Alerts, which is a fantastic tool for monitoring your brand or competitors. The problem I’ve had is that the more feeds you set up, the more sorting you have to do to pull out the signal from the noise. Rather than wade through thousands of hits myself, I’d rather let a computer do it - and Yahoo Pipes is how I get that done. Pipes is essentially a tool for collating, filtering and organizing multiple RSS feeds into One Feed to Rule Them All. My favorite techniques in Pipes include:
- Using the Regex module to insert a category or tag name in the title of specific results
- Filtering out unwanted keywords or domains (again, a Whack-a-Mole game)
- Renaming titles or altering links based on unique keyword scenarios
PostRank - Once you’ve got your SuperFeeds built, you can use the PostRank Firefox extension for Google Reader to rank those items coming in by social engagement. I use this alongside an unranked view to look at the hottest stuff first, then skim through the rest.
Check out this list of 195 Social Media Measurement Tools to find out more about the many other solutions (free and paid) available to you!
As they say about the Craftsman department at my local Sears - that’s a lot of tools. Please drop a comment here or contact me if you have any questions about using them. Enjoy!
Image courtesy of Geek and Poke