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The Best Free And Paid Brand Monitoring Tools Reviewed

Mike Essex

by Mike Essex on 22nd January 2014

Video Transcript

In previous Koozai TV videos we’ve explained the reasons behind needing to monitor your brand and to identify all the times you’re mentioned online and on social media, whether that be positive or negative, as well as how to engage with those mentions. But what we haven’t looked at before are the best paid and free tools in order to actually see what people are saying about you and find those mentions in the first place. So today’s video is going to do just that. We’re going to go through four separate paid tools that we’ve tested internally, and five tools that won’t cost you anything, that do similar results. Then we’re going to compare the two.

First of all let’s have a look at Sprout Social. Sprout Social is the tool that we currently use internally at Koozai, after testing all of these. It’s the most cost effective. It only costs $99 a month and it allows you to set up dashboards of what people are saying about you. What is really interesting about Sprout Social is that it is set up more like a customer relationship management system. So you can keep track of all the things that people have said about you, but also what you’ve said to them. So if internally you want to know if you’ve responded to a particular inquiry or if you want to see the life time conversation you’ve had with that particular user, then you can do that in Sprout Social, and that’s really the key benefit that separates it from the other tools.

BrandsEye is what we used to use. BrandsEye actually has very good custom reporting as well. Allowing you to create dashboards and import them based on your own criteria. It also lets you set rules, so you can automatically mark specific mentions based on criteria or exclude other criteria if it is not relevant to your brand. Which is really good if you’ve got a generic type of brand name and you want to only see the ones that are actually talking about you and not the generic version of that word. The problem we had with BrandsEye is that it actually costs quite a lot to add extra mentions that you want to track. So if you’re only interested in your brand name then it’s fine, but if you want to track all different variations of your brand name and other properties that you own, then you may find the cost increases quite quickly.

Brandwatch is actually the most expensive of these tools, which cost £500 pound a month, but that actually is pretty much all you need when you use it. So you may actually find when you look at the rest of these, Brandwatch actually isn’t all that much more expensive. It also offers really good reporting for both Twitter and Facebook. I’d actually say that Brandwatch’s Facebook reporting is better than the reporting that’s built into Facebook. So it’s good from that point of view.

Trackur is the cheapest tool of the lot at only $97 a month, which isn’t a massive saving over Sprout Social, and also the problem with Trackur is that it is more of an out of the box solution. The way it works and the data it presents cannot really be customised or changed. And also we found the data collection was not as fast as the other tools. What is good about Trackur is merely that it allows you to track a lot of mentions for cheap and it’s really quick to set up. I mean if you want a low admin piece of software then Trackur is the one to go with. You can be set up in a matter of minutes. However, if you want to drill any deeper or if you want to keep track of what’s been said then the other options are better.

The best thing that I’d recommend is that all of these tools actually have free trials. I recommend signing up for each of them, giving yourself at least a week to try each one, because if you’re trying to do all of them at once it’s not enough time, and then just picking the once that’s best for you.

There’s also several free tools out there that don’t give you the same level of reporting as the paid tools, but are still good for day to day instant responses to conversations. For example, TweetDeck and HootSuite allow you to add columns to search for specific criteria. So you could add one of those for Twitter, let’s say, for your brand name and you get notified as soon as you are mentioned online on that platform. So instead of having to actually open up one of these pieces of software and then go in and check it each time, I also recommend that you combine that with TweetDeck or HootSuite and have that running in the background at all times. Then as soon as you are mentioned on one of those tools you can engage with it there and then. The good thing about these tools, like Sprout Social, is if you respond through TweetDeck or HootSuite, as long as it’s on your official account and it’s connected up to one of these tools, they will still keep track of the conversation and the fact that you’ve responded, which is fantastic because it means that you don’t always have to respond through one of [the paid] tools.

Talkwalker Alerts is a good way to monitor the web and see when you’re mentioned on a webpage, because some of these tools are great for social media, but not so great for actually checking when you’ve been mentioned on the wider web. The other good thing about Talkwalker is that it fills a gap that’s existed since Google Alerts just became worse and worse, and it’s just a great way to get a few updates every time you’re mentioned. It’s not going to do it all the time. It’s going to miss stuff. It’s not going to be as up to date, but it’s worth running in the background.

I’d also recommend that you do a search on Google every week, or every day, depending on your preference, and you go to search options and change it to show any time your brand was mentioned in the last 24 hours or in the last week. If you want the most up-to-date look at when your brand has been mentioned online, that is the best way to do it, and it’s totally free. So although it’s not real time reporting, as long as you make a note to check that regularly that’s one way to keep an eye on the wider web other than these tools.

TOPSY lets you search Twitter and it’s better than Twitter’s actual in built search, because it lets you go back further in time and it seems more accurate as well. So if you do want to just get a starting point and see how often were we mentioned during this time period, then TOPSY is the tool to use.

Last but not least, we have Followerwonk, which has a few in-built free features, such as being able to search Twitter bios, for various mentions. Good if you want to see if anyone is pretending to work for your company if they don’t or if they’ve said something about your company which is negative.

So I hope you found these tools useful. Like I say, set up a free trial of these to see how they can help and these ones you can get started on straight away. All you need to do in most cases is just add your company name and you get instant data on what’s being said about you online. I hope you found this video useful and remember to go back and check some of our other videos on how to monitor your brand and the types of things you can look for, for more information.

Thank you.

Mike Essex

Mike Essex

Mike Essex specialises in digital marketing and everything search. A recent project of Mike’s was featured on BBC News, Radio 5Live and the Times here in the UK, whilst also featuring on USA Today and ABC News in the US. He will be writing throughout the month about digital marketing and much more...

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