Sifting through the crowd
Participating in social media for brands is no longer a question of if, or even a how. Even the stuffiest of CEOs and their companies have joined the conversations, and they've hired social media experts and PR firms to advise them on how to build campaigns and engage customers. In fact, eMarketer's recent study "Social Media in the Marketing Mix: Budgeting for 2011" estimates that 80 percent of U.S. businesses with 100 or more employees will use social media marketing this year.
So now that we are all here, the questions shift. What now? And are we doing this right? There are scores of companies out there trying to help brands answer these questions. Just search Google or Quora for "social media analytics" and "social media monitoring," or check out OneForty. The results are enough to make anyone's head spin. There are literally hundreds of apps and websites that purport to do the best job of monitoring, tracking, and analyzing your social media presence. Consequently, this abundance causes confusion and frustration among companies trying to find the right solution.
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As a company, we have evaluated dozens of social media measurement applications and products, and we have found that currently no one has "the" solution for providing a comprehensive look at marketing campaigns across social media platforms. Every tool has its own strengths and weaknesses, its own way of tracking and reporting results, and its own pricing structure.
Rather than having you start from scratch when evaluating these tools, I'd like to give you a leg up by outlining the three paid and three free or low-cost social media measurement tools that we've found most interesting. And, for good measure, I'll include a few others for consideration that we are still in the process of evaluating.