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Social media tools that marketers shouldn't miss

Social media tools that marketers shouldn't miss Lori Dicker

In many ways, 2009 was the year of the "a-ha!" moment for social media marketing. While many people long-involved with social media and word-of-mouth marketing knew it was only a matter of time for the masses to embrace this type of marketing, others were just starting to get their arms around the importance of establishing and leveraging their social footprint to build engagement, dialogue, and awareness.

As more companies, brands, and individuals are building their social media presences, the universe of online tools -- which used to be somewhat more limited -- continues to expand on a daily basis. Not only do we have more choices in how we place content and measure social media, but the tools available to us also change and improve just as frequently.

To provide a little background on me: I run a social media marketing agency (KARMA Media Labs) that helps organizations and individuals connect with their target audiences and build word of mouth in the communities where they live. In order to find these audiences and strike a chord, it's important to be armed with the right tools to listen to what is being said, find the right influencers, communicate with your audience in a way that is relevant, and provide content that is likely to be shared.

The following is a list of some my favorite tools and sites -- some free, some paid -- that have been worth their weight in gold in not only finding that desired audience and key influencers, but also putting the right content in front of them to build conversation and word of mouth.

For honing in on conversations

Tool: Social Mention
As mentioned earlier, one of the critical components of a successful social media campaign is listening to your audience. One of my favorite free tools to monitor conversation and buzz across social media is Social Mention, which gives a great snapshot of blog, forum, and microblog buzz, sentiment, and keywords. It also tracks video, image, comment, and social bookmarking tags and mentions. While somewhat rudimentary in its search capabilities, my work colleagues and I are big fans of Social Mention and use it on a daily basis to not only find the places where people are engaged in dialogue, but also in reporting buzz to our clients.

For taking a social snapshot

Tool: Addict-O-Matic
As an alternative to Social Mention, when we want a quick, visual picture of brand, personality, or meme buzz across the most popular social spaces, we use Addict-O-Matic's social search engine. This free tool shows real-time placements in social networks, communities, and blogs.

For weighing sentiments

Tools: Radian6 and/or SM2 
If more drilled-down and specific data are needed for a social listening initiative, two paid tools dominate our usage: Radian6 and Alterian's SM2. Both offer great analytical tools, easy-to-use interfaces, powerful data retrieval (and good coverage), agency administration, graphing capabilities, workflow control, and dashboard and exporting functionality. And all at a very reasonable price. The main difference between the two systems is the intervention of actual human beings in the filtering of search results for SM2 and slightly different (and we think better) sentiment scoring for SM2. But the full control of search management and backend from Radian6 amply compensates.

For finding influencers

Tool: Alltop.com
When building a social media marketing strategy, it's important to not only find your audience, but also the tastemakers who influence your audience -- from bloggers to forum moderators. A great free tool for finding communities and influencers related to your audiences' interests is Alltop.com. With Alltop, you discover some of the most relevant sites for not only reaching influencers, but also getting your content in front of the right people who are likely to engage with it.

For assessing site value

Tools: Quantcast and Compete
When identifying target communities, sites, and blogs for a social media campaign, it's important to assess the traffic and demographics of readership. Quantcast and Compete are both free tools with for-pay premium functionality. Both are great sources to get basic Web 1.0 metrics such as site/blog traffic, user demographics, page views, and unique visitors. They also include relevant information on the site appeal and any related subdomains.

For disseminating video

Tools: TubeMogul and Vidmetrix 
A video marketing campaign can generate massive amounts of buzz and enhance branding strategies in a very short period of time, as well as generate large amounts of word of mouth and pass-along. Our favorite tool for automated mass upload of video content is TubeMogul, which also has powerful analytics for the uploaded videos. With 27 UGC sites supported, it covers all relevant mainstream and slightly off-mainstream UGC sites. Vidmetrix is a good runner-up to TubeMogul and offers similar functionality.

For keeping up with Facebook

Tools: Facebook Developer Wiki and/or Inside Facebook
Any marketer who has built a presence on Facebook knows that one thing is certain: Facebook constantly keeps everyone administering Pages or Groups on their toes with changes, improvements, and guidelines. To help plan our strategies for a Facebook presence, we keep our eye on upcoming changes by subscribing to the Facebook Developer Wiki. This platform was developed as a community for developers, but it also gives a glimpse into what's coming in the future.

Another great site we visit almost daily to monitor developments on Facebook is Inside Facebook. Built for developers, agencies, and marketers, this useful site helps administrators understand the benefits and challenges of building a presence on Facebook by providing reports, metrics, and insights on campaigns being deployed. It also provides updates on the ever-changing rules of the Facebook game, ranging from new promotions guidelines to design features.

For tracking Twitter

Tools: Twitalyzer, Twitter Grader, and Klout
Thanks to Twitter's open API, when it comes to tools for Twitter presence measurement, management, and identification of top influencers, there is an embarrassment of riches, all of them free. It's hard to pick a favorite in this area. For measurement and tracking of a Twitter presence our favorites include Twitalyzer and Twitter Grader, two great free tools that help get an idea of how influential a Twitter profile is. Twitalyzer is especially sophisticated in its approach to what constitutes true influence in the Twitterverse.

Another free tool that is fast becoming a favorite is Klout, which includes a "Twitter List" engine that identifies and ranks the top 25 influencers for any topic of interest. It scores someone's authority by the number of clicks driven through their links on Twitter.

For messaging

Tool: Sendible
Although social media marketing is about dialogue and two-way communication, we like Sendible to communicate our clients' messages through SMS, social network messaging, and good old-fashioned email. There are price packages for all budget levels, and the interface makes it a breeze.

The world of Google tools

Tools: Google Alerts, Google Trends, and Google Analytics 
Rather than a set of tools with a specific function, this entry is composed of my favorite Google tools that help us plan, deploy, and measure social media campaigns. Not only are they easy to understand, they are free and get the job done. Beauty in simplicity couldn't be truer when it comes to these tools.

Google Alerts. In my opinion, anyone running a social media marketing campaign should be setting up Google Alerts. These notifications are instant email update alerts of the latest Google results -- whether it is a blog or site placement, news item, video, or tweet. You will sometimes have to experiment with Google Alerts for a few days before choosing one that delivers the most meaningful results for you. Google lets you create up to 1,000 alerts.

Google Trends. No list of tools would be complete without the mention of Google Trends. Google Trends can be used to monitor the popularity of certain search terms and enables marketers to gauge how top-of-mind their brand or message is. You can easily export Trends data to be opened with most spreadsheet applications.

Google Analytics. Many people we work with already have a social media presence or are in the process of developing one. The question becomes: Now that we've built it, is it working? For a simple and inexpensive way to track activity on a website or blog, it is difficult to beat Google Analytics. Easy to set up and use, and pretty self-explanatory, we recommend using this tool for many of our client campaigns.

Prediction: Favorite marketing tool of 2010

Tool: Foursquare
I'd be remiss if I didn't throw in my pick for the social network and marketing tool most likely to gain popularity in 2010: Foursquare. While already gaining popularity with iPhone and Android users, I think there is a great deal of marketing potential. To summarize, users check in when they visit locations and are awarded points for various activities. The opportunities for marketers are huge: from special offers at locations, to gaining valuable insights through consumer behaviors, to promotions. I'll definitely be keeping my eye on Foursquare and look forward to what's in store in 2010.

Lori Dicker is co-founder and CEO of KARMA Media Labs.

On Twitter? Follow Dicker at @LoriDicker. Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.


to leave comments.

Commenter: Tiffany Whitmore

2010, February 23

Very informative for marketers and businesses just beginning to create a presence in the social media realm.

Commenter: Andrew Syiek

2010, February 17

Most informative and useful set of tools! Thank you.

Commenter: Rich Krueger

2010, February 10

Lori - good round-up of social and traffic analytic tools. You should also check out Samepoint.com, which is similar to SocialMention, but more comprehensive in its indexing of different types of social media.

Commenter: Drew Rose

2010, February 09

Great post!

One research tool i use is the http://delicious.com search.

While it's great for bookmarking, the search is an amazing time-saver. Results are tagged, can be filtered, and have the amount of times bookmarked.

It's right to the gold-mine.

Commenter: Stephen Iacullo

2010, February 04

Another interesting thing to think about and consider is Twitter PPC.

At WebPartner, we have created a process where we build a highly-targeted Twitter following that corresponds to a company's desired demographics using a set of data points and qualifiers (no auto-following etc.).

We then engage that audience with relevant content on behalf of the company. The content has trackable URLs (think bitly for example).

We use a PPC model and charge based on how many link clicks we get for our customers.

It works brilliantly and customers really love it as we can build (or add to) their Twitter presence and they only pay based on clicks (or our performance).

Stephen Iacullo
VP Sales and Marketing

Commenter: Kathy Clancy

2010, February 02

Terrific article. Thanks for sharing.

Commenter: Ray Nardo

2010, February 02

Hi Lori,
congratulations this one of best posts I have ever read about sm tools. some of them really new even for emarketing pro's. if you have a mailing list you can put my email in.
Thank you,

Commenter: David Rachlin

2010, January 26

Thank you Lori, for this really helpful collection and concise summary.

In the last millennium I was a FMCG Classical Marketer; then I got "focused" on General Management of start-ups, before Social Media had gathered much steam. Now that I'm studying Web 2.0 Marketing, I can't wait to test-drive all those cool tools before launching a new venture!

Per Juan Manuel's suggestion above (25th Jan), I checked out SocialMetrix.com SMX Echo. That looks like a really powerful tool for Social CRM, besides for Social Marketing. Juan, would you be able to provide a Demo for my Professor and our class on Marketing in the Internet Age? Please Tweet me @DavidRVT.

Thanks and kind regards, David

Commenter: Mark Evans

2010, January 26


If you're interested in other social media monitoring and analytics services, check out Sysomos, which offers two products - Heartbeat (monitoring/measurement) and MAP (in-depth analytics and reporting). Since we launched in late-2008, we've attracted a growing number of customers from around the world.

cheers, Mark

Mark Evans
Director of Communications
Sysomos Inc.

Commenter: Terri Andrews

2010, January 26

Great list of tools! I've been using some of them but a few are new to me. I'm excited about checking them out!

Commenter: Maria Ogneva

2010, January 25

Thanks for the great writeup, Lori! Adding to my delicious library!

Have you had a chance to check out Community Insights from Biz360? Let me know if you want to take a look at it / take it for a ride. We have very sophisticated automated sentiment scoring - on an article and entity level. We use NER & statistics based machine learning. And of course, there are dashboards, graphs, workflow tools, a system of alerts, oodles and oodles of data (from many sources) being indexed near real time, and a very easy to use UI.

Maria Ogneva
@themaria @biz360

Commenter: Lori Dicker

2010, January 25

Thanks all for the added tools and tips. Will definitely be checking them out!


Lori Dicker
KARMA Media Labs

Commenter: Juan Manuel Damia

2010, January 25

Hi Lori, let me recommend you to get in touch with SocialMetrix. It is a much sophisticated tool that the above mentioned. Actually it analyze the sentiment (positive, negative, objective) automatically and not manually with your own resources. Take a look at it and let me know your thoughts. Cheers!

Commenter: Bill Flitter

2010, January 25

Lori, great list. I have been doing buzz monitoring for years and haven't found one tool that catches them all. I aggregate as much as I can via RSS and pump the data into my RSS reader. For me, it is great way to organize all the data that comes on topics or buzz i am tracking.

Bill Flitter

Commenter: E.B. Moss

2010, January 25

Great summary, Lori. In an area that can be overwhelming with options, this was a good selection of tools with added rationale that was very helpful. Thank you. And you might also explore "Heartbeat" in the Radian6 and SM2 category.
Moss Appeal

Commenter: dominique lahaix

2010, January 25

Thanks for the list of tools,

As for community and influencer marketing:

Alltop is a great resource to find an initial list of influencers. If you want to go beyond that and

- build very deep list of influencers in you target community (100's to 1000's)
- efficiently buzz and reach out these influencer while measuring the impact of your message and the attention you get in that community

--- you should check us out: www.ecairn.com


Commenter: Jeff SanGeorge

2010, January 25

Great list of tools! Many I've used and some I just forgot about. I have to agree with you about foursquare, It's hot right now. It sees like I get a handful of invitations to connect there daily and most people are just beginning to understand it's potential.