Most Essential Social Media Tools
Join us at Entrepreneur magazine's Growth Conference, Dec. 15 in Long Beach, Calif. for a day of fresh ideas, business mentoring and networking. Register here for exclusive pricing, available only for a limited time.
In his book Tweet Naked, online marketing expert and Social Media Firm CEO Scott Levy provides the critical information entrepreneurs need to craft a social media strategy that will boost their brand and their business. In this edited excerpt, the author offers a quick look at the tools that can help you track your social media data.
There are tools that can help you track all possible social media data. Most are easy to use if you take the time to learn them, and many have both free and for-fee versions, the latter offering more detail.
The most useful tools are often those on the platforms themselves. For example, one of the simplest metrics that many businesses find extremely valuable is Facebook's PTAT (People Talking About This) score, which measures word-of-mouth marketing. It tracks the number of individual users or unique visitors who have interacted with the page. The number, which changes often, allows you to determine not only how many people are interacting with your pages but also whether that number is staying consistent, dropping or rising. For small-business owners who can't afford a 24/7 social media team, PTAT is a very helpful metric because it is a cost-effective manner of tracking content.
A slightly more complex factor to understand is EdgeRank. Even if Facebook users like a brand, they don't return to brand pages often, if at all. So many businesses look at the impact of showing up on users' news feeds, and EdgeRank is an algorithm designed to help brands increase their news feed visibility.
To understand the algorithm, it's important to first understand what "edge" means. Edge is a term for every possible Facebook action: updates, comments, likes, shares, etc. The algorithm takes into account each user's edges, and then measures the sum total of affinity, weight and time decay in conjunction with each action.
Affinity is the number of repeat interactions, including likes, sharing, commenting, etc., that a Facebook user has with a specific brand. The greater the interaction, the greater the relationship the user has with that brand.
Weight is a value system created by Facebook to measure the various interactions. For example, a "like" is very common and will have a lower value than a comment, where someone has taken the time to say something about the brand.
Time decay measures how long the edge has been on Facebook. A new posting of any type has a higher ranking than something that was posted days or weeks ago. This is included to increase the value of the latest news, or postings.
Facebook uses these factors to determine what shows up in people's news feeds. Having current, engaging content that prompts users to comment and share results in higher EdgeRank scores for the content. This will have your posts showing up more often on their news feeds, increasing your brand awareness significantly.
Tools provide anything from simple tracking systems to advanced data management from multiple social media accounts, and knowing your social media goals and objectives will help you decide which ones to use. Here are just a few:
Blitzmetrics. Lets you monitor content from Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, YouTube and other platforms. Checks news feed coverage and feedback rates, and helps determine which demographics are most responsive.
Bottlenose. Analyzes and provides data from real-time activities across numerous social networks.
Buffer. Provides free detailed analytics and analysis across social media platforms.
Carma. Lets you review and evaluate your social media image, brand recognition and message penetration through traditional and social media analysis.
Conversocial. Monitors comments and customer service issues on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Instagram. Comments are sorted into positive, neutral or negative categories, and can measure such data as customer satisfaction, agent response times and issue frequency.
Curalate. Applies advanced image analytics to social media conversations to help strengthen campaigns for Pinterest and Instagram.
Facebook Insights. Facebook's free built-in analytics tool provides metrics based on Facebook content.
Google Analytics. Provides web, social media, mobile content, conversion and advertising analytics and reports.
HootSuite. A social media management tool that tracks various social media platforms at one time with free analytic data. A pay version provides more detailed reports.
MediaVantage. Provides real-time traditional and social media monitoring in a single database to keep track of what's being discussed about your brand.
NetBase. Lets you monitor social media or specific platforms in real time to analyze your campaigns, consumers and competitors, and engage or react accordingly.
Pinterest Web Analytics. Pinterest's free analytics that provides users with data on reactions and responses to their pins.
Social Mention. Free aggregator that tracks user-generated content in a similar manner to Google Alerts, except the focus is on social media sites. Also provides email alerts on your brand, your competitors or your industry.
SocialOomph. Allows you to follow up on keywords, auto-follow new Twitter followers, track retweets or utilize the many functions for tracking your social media accounts.
Sprout Social. Web app that tracks content and conversations across social media platforms by demographic measures, monitors trends in social engagement, and tracks customer service response times.
Talkwalker. Monitors trends, your brand and products, and also identifies influencers.
Topsy. Lets you search by location or keywords and monitors tweets, retweets, websites and blogs. Also analyzes, indexes and ranks content and trends.
TweetDeck. A service that allows businesses, organizations and individuals to monitor, manage and schedule their social media marketing activity.
Viralheat. Aggregates your social media traffic into a single stream for easy access, and lets you sort using various filters.
YouTube Insight. Provides total views, their demographic and geographic breakdown and even how long people are watching your videos.