When I started my career in the social media industry five years ago, I remember thinking about how limited social media reporting functions were, especially when compared to the detailed analytics available for most websites. Aside from basic stats about name mentions and the size of your follower count, little data could be utilized for any real value.

Unfortunately, while several significant advancements have been made in the field, social media reporting is still not nearly at the level of detail and depth that most marketers would desire. So without the most advanced reporting tools, how do you make sure not to miss anything being said about your name or your brand? Below are three listening tools that I use every day to manage the social media presence of Best Rank and its clients to make sure nothing goes unnoticed or potentially becomes negative.

Basic Monitoring with Twitter Search

The most basic form of Twitter conversational monitoring can be performed by visiting search.twitter.com and performing basic searches for words and hashtags related to your brand. While effective, this requires the user to remain on the site for long periods of time or visit often to check for updates on a regular basis. Fortunately, Twitter’s API lets developers build apps that utilize the search functionality automatically so that you don’t have to. Below are some of the programs that can perform this type of monitoring:

To use any of these programs, you must login with your associated Twitter account and then create individual search queries for the desired mentions and hashtags you want to track. Remember that it is wise to track more than just your exact brand name by including potential misspells and variations.

Advanced Monitoring with Social Mention

If you have not setup Google alerts for your own name and/or your business’ name, go over to the Google Alerts site right now and do this. What these alerts do is email you any time that Google crawls a page that includes one of the terms you are tracking. This allows you to know when Google views something you might be interested in.

The thing with Google Alerts is that it is only tracking things Google views as important, meaning there are many other things happening on the web that might include your brand without Google noticing. To track these additional mentions, I recommend a tool called Social Mention. Social Mention tracks conversations across social networks, blogs, forums, chats, news sites, and other forms of social media. You can use social mention as a search engine for your brand and also have it send you regular alerts just like Google.

Premium Monitoring with Raven Tools

While tools like Google Alerts and Social Mention do an excellent job of tracking mentions, they do not do as great of a job as premium reporting tools. At the top level are monitoring tools powered by OpenAmplify, like Radian6. These tools monitor just about everything that goes on but cost thousands of dollars to use, making them too expensive for the average business owner.

At a more affordable level are tools from companies like Sprout Social, Visible Technologies and Raven Tools. My personal choice at the moment is Raven Tools because I prefer the simple, minimal interface and also like their Chrome toolbar that lets me quickly switch between various social media logins. Regardless of the service, the quality of social media monitoring increases dramatically when you start using premium pay tools.


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