I’m a bit of a data nut, and I enjoy looking for new and interesting ways to find and visualize information. This is especially true for finding new ways to monitor the various conversations happening across social media web sites. There are new monitoring tools appearing every day, more than I could ever hope to have time to evaluate. I’ve written about monitoring solutions many times on this blog with posts about monitoring online conversations, monitoring dashboards, monitoring real-time information on Twitter, and more. I thought that it would be a good time for another post to highlight a few more tools for monitoring online conversations. I recently found Ken Burbary’s Wiki of Social Media Monitoring Solutions, which has almost 100 social media monitoring tools listed, so I thought that I would evaluate a few of the solutions on his list to find a couple that provide interesting information. Most of the tools available do a pretty good job of finding the posts that match your search terms, so I focused on a couple of the solutions that provide some additional value or analysis of the results.
We recently made a couple of announcements about an upcoming event called Ignite Portland, so I decided to use it as my test case for these monitoring solutions. It’s a good test case because we’ve been doing the event for a couple of years, so it has plenty of history and the recent announcement generated some buzz this week, but the volume is fairly manageable.
This service is yet another Twitter monitoring solution. While twazzup shows the obvious information (tweets mentioning your search terms), it also has sections on the page for most popular links, contributors, a tag cloud and suggested users. I found the results to be very accurate and relevant, but it’s the little touches that make this site so interesting. You can mouse over avatars and links to get more relevant information. For example, if you mouse over a user link, it gives you a list of tweets about your topic from that user, along with number of followers, location, bio and other information, as well as a “follow” button in case you want to follow that user. If you mouse over a link, it shows you a list of users who posted the link to Twitter.
The downside is that the Twitter search results are currently limited to around nine days, so it is great for monitoring recent information, but it would not be a good solution for low-volume searches or for looking over longer periods of time. However, this is a limitation of Twitter itself, which services like this one have to live with.
Social Mention is a more comprehensive search that looks across blogs, Twitter, images, video, and more. Pay special attention to the links right above the search box on your results page. By default, searches return results from blogs, but you can also hit the links to return results from microblogs (Twitter, etc.), images, etc. Data junkies like me will probably want to select the “all” link. The best thing about Social Mention is all of the analysis that it provides about the data. You can see sentiment (positive, neutral, negative), top keywords, top users, top hashtags and more. Even better than just being able to see the information on the web site is that they give you several cuts of the data as CSV download files that you can save for later.
The biggest downside to Social Mention is that it still has a few issues to iron out with how some search engines handle special operators, like “OR”. While my OR search worked fine in certain parts of the site, it resulted in a large number of false positives in other areas. If you spend a few minutes tweaking your search and are careful not to use any complex searches, you should be able to work around these types of issues. It also appears have the same Twitter limitations as twazzup, and I noticed some other intermittent flakiness, but was willing to live with it, since the results were so interesting.
What are your favorite monitoring solutions?
Photo credit: stock.xcnhg user hamma