A comparison of entry level low cost social media monitoring tools. An evaluation of features and usability for an sme setup with a limited marketing staff.
Tools involved Raven, uberVU, Engagor and Brandwatch.
Social Media Monitoring – a Shortlist of Low Cost Tools
This shortlist is based on the following criteria.
- Annual fee below USD 10,000
- At least 3 user seats
- Intuitive interface and good usability
- Focus on monitoring and according engagement options
- Automated sentiment analysis in English, German and French
- Free trial access
- Monitoring options for Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Google+, RSS
- Detailed search options (Filtering news channels)
Raven – Social Media and Internet Marketing Monitoring
Raven is a bit of a different animal among this shortlist since it originally covered SEO keywords, SEM adwords, campaign tracking functionality. In recent months it started a cooperation with uberVU in order to add social monitoring functionality to its offering. That makes Raven an intriguingly attractive tool for online marketing departments. Obviously it offers less functionality than uberVU’s native tool, but Raven could still be a low cost entry tool for smaller shops.
The 30 day free trial version is very helpful compared to the other tools‘ offerings of 7 or 10 days. As a social media manager you never have enough time to handle all tasks at hand, therefore a longer trial period makes sense. What’s more, as a small site your social media key metrics may vary wildly from week to week, hence a 7 day trial is too short. Here I used stats from my employer’s websites www.jobwinner.ch and www.alpha.ch.
Raven runs a comprehensive blog with plenty of suggestions on how to use the tool and what to monitor, e.g. the Facebook brand pages as they sport the timeline sind 31 March 2012.
I’m not going into much detail for Raven since it relies on uberVU functionality. Raven is already a commendable tool for SEO matters, adding basic social monitoring features makes it only more appealing!
uberVU – Intelligent Social Media Dashboard (Acquired by HootSuite
uberVU customer reps insist in walking you through an online demo before handing over their trial account. This seems a bit cumbersome but it comes across as being professionally interested in having satisfied customers. In my case the customer rep followed up repeatedly asking whether I needed any help. Good job, thanks Roman!
Introduction: How to use UberVu (now HootSuite).
Same as Engagor, uberVU offers live help support on the website. The obvious functionality, i.e. monitor a Twitter account’s mentions or interact with a Facebook timeline (no Google+ yet) is straightforward in terms of adding tags or tasks.
But when you reshare via Twitter the tweet will be posted in the Twitter account you’re currently logged into. When maintaining multiple brands or Twitter channels this is not convenient since you may want to share on one of the other channels of yours.
Also, I’m not sure whether it’s possible to sort of store the desired date range as does Google analytics across different queries. In uberVU I had to reselect my desired date range again and again.
I also had trouble finding the functionality demonstrated in above video. I may not be the smartest user around, but still…
uberVU’s blog is updated a bit less frequently than the others but it still offers valuable background information.
Engagor – Intelligent Social Media Management
Engagor must have a very strong social media monitoring tool. They were the first ones to react to my first post on sm monitoring and then they also quickly discovered a comment of mine on the same topic at SEOmoz.com. Impressive indeed!
While hanging out on Engagor’s website during my evaluation a pop-up showed up offering live help support. My 10 day free trial was immediately prolonged and we agreed on an online demo on the spot. Wow, Engagor’s functionality is awesome!
The sales rep talked for an hour (!) showing new and interesting functionality. I was blown away. Probably Engagor offers the most comprehensive functionality in this comparison report.
Besides the usual dashboard visualizations as shown above you quickly talk sophisticated advanced features. E.g. it’s possible to reply from different accounts, which is especially important when running different channels and different brands.
When adding tags you may want to go for the „smart tag“ option…
After having identified key influencers in your market niche you also want to monitor and rank their postings.
The keyword search can be tailored to any exotic need in advanced mode. The preview pane will show whether you configured your criteria properly.
There are countless other features such as alerts when key metrics differ significantly from previous standards and many more. Thanks Lien for the demo ;-)
Brandwatch – Social Media Monitoring Tools
Of the tools surveyed Brandwatch was the most difficult to use. I needed to go via the user guide in order to understand their usability concept.
The usual profile visualization is available, but we didn’t find killer criteria that made up for the somewhat cumbersome usability.
The sentiment analysis is not available in German, therefore it doesn’t apply in this case.
Update 6.4.2012: Joel from Brandwatch gave me a hint that they actually do offer sentiment analysis in German. This makes the tool attractive for the German, Swiss and Austrian marketplace. If automated German sentiment analysis is important in your case you should look into this.
The monitoring visualization of jobwinner.ch’s Twitter channels is interesting. It can be used to gain market intelligence from a different angle, i.e. how many jobs were posted in the field of SAP or Microsoft, etc.
Also Brandwatch’s blog is maintained on a regular basis.
User Roles and Access Rights
uberVU has a sophisticated, yet easy to use page for user role administration. Admins obviously have the complete access, users can be restricted to folders, streams or profiles.
But also Engagor offers comprehensive and customizable options regarding user access rights.
Raven has two offerings: $99 per month for a pro setup and $249 per month for agencies.
uberVU offers three price levels, $499 per month for a starter package, $999 per month for a professional or agency license and an enterprise offering on demand.
Engagor has four price levels on offer: Basic $350 per month, Standard $650, Professional $1’400, Enterprise $2’400 per month.
Brandwatch differentiates pro needs for $600 per month and enterprise needs for $2’500 per month.
All price plans come with different limitations concerning the number of users, searches or channels you can connect.
So besides from the price and functionality you need to make sure that you can cover your exact needs with a given pricing plan. That’s obviously a bit hard when you only start out monitoring social media but then again before you buy a tool you should have made some experience with free tools such as TwitterWatch, Seesmic, Metricly.com or HootSuite.
And, since last Monday, you may also want to look at the latest developments around PostRank, a service that Google recently acquired and integrated into their free Analytics offering.
A glimpse of the potential future importance of PostRank is visible when Google tests new visualizations of their search engine result page…
I will publish this post during European and U.S. business hours and not immediately promote it via social media. Wonder which supplier will react first to this. If any at all, for that matter…
Update: As with my first post about social media monitoring it’s Engagor again who reacts first. It took them just an hour to discover my post and tweet about it. You guys rock!
— Engagor (@engagor) April 3, 2012
Findings and Recommendations for Small Online Marketing Departments
I recommend starting small. Get a feeling of the relevant topics, things to measure (what are your relevant key indicators?), amount of data published around your niche.
Identify key influencers in your market. Follow and monitor their streams. Try to get them to post about you and monitor the buzz.
Use free tools to start monitoring. I use the browser add-on TwitterWatch several times a day. It has helped me react timely to relevant mentions on several occasions.
Go with Raven (uberVU) if you need to monitor your SEO/SEM rankings and you want to take first steps in social media monitoring.
Go with Engagor if you’re serious about starting social media monitoring.
Thanks for the tweets!
— Jurriaan Persyn (@oemebamo) April 3, 2012
— Folke Lemaitre (@Folke) April 3, 2012
— Lien Brusselmans (@LBrusselmans) April 3, 2012
Engagor offers the most comprehensive functionality in this comparison report http://t.co/irYg7WkG We zijn niet voor niets partner geworden!
— All The Way (@all_tw) April 4, 2012
— Dimitri Callens (@calldimi) April 18, 2012
— Birger Hartung (@birger_h) April 18, 2012
Update 18.4.2012: Today Engagor announced their new version 3.0.
Update 29.5.2012: 100 items you could measure in social media
Update 4.7.2012: Philipp Gysling, president at the Swiss Canadian Chamber of Commerce Ontario and Quebec, had this social media monitoring tool review published in their June/July issue (as of page 20) of info suisse. Thanks for having me!
— Mike Schwede (@mikeschwede) September 20, 2012
Eine schöne Zusammenstellung kostenloser Tools findet sich im 3C Blog.