Picking a new social media monitoring service

Over the past month, I tasked myself with improving my employer’s monitoring and management of social media results and metrics. For the past year, we were with Radian6 and were happy, however we wanted more. The metrics that we were producing on our overall sentiment and equated net promoter score were great, problem was that they were in a vacuum. There was no benchmark against our competition and if we were going to expand our reports we’d have a number of hurdles to climb.

The biggest of these hurdles was adding a sentiment to the competitors was adding a sentiment to the posts. With Radian6, adding sentiment to posts, Tweets, videos, etc. is a very manual process that took a combined 10+ hours a week to do for monitoring our brand. So in a nutshell this was not scalable for our team to incorporate – which, at the end of the day, was the deal-breaker.

So instead of looking at tools in terms that the sales folks were tossing my way, I decided to let the tool run wild and then checked their results and sentiment against the results we were manually adjusting in Radian6.  At the end of the day we chose Scout Labs. Their mantra of working with clients to make the tool fit their needs, rolling release schedule and slick interface were too appealing to pass up.

So with that out of the way, here’s what I found from trying various tools (in no particular order). Hopefully my experience with them can help you make a decision if you are looking for a first-time tool or to change services.

Radian6Despite the fact that we were leaving the industry leader, I would be remiss to dismiss their product. There is a reason that they are at the front of the pack – they bring in the most results and offer a slew of tools that I will honestly miss. However, for what I need in terms of the sentiment they were just not where I needed them to be.

If you do decide upon them, know that they have an awesome team and an even better support network.

Price – Starts at $500/month and $100/user

Scout LabsAs mentioned earlier, these guys took home the account. Scout Labs has a ton of cool features and shows everything in a nice clean dashboard. They also have a “smart engine” that filters out spam content from searches.

The interface shows everything in one screen similar to Addict-O-Matic, but are actionable within the tool and it also has a cool quote tool to show what kinds of things are being said in a snapshot. This is perfect for sending quick hits to executives who are looking for a sense of what’s being said. With unlimited users, the tool can easily be shared with multiple parties including customer service, product marketing and the communications team.

Now in a sense of full disclosure, the tool does bring in fewer results than Radian6, but their sentiment is pretty close to what we were getting with our manual process.  They also have easy graphs that show conversation share.

Price – Starts at $199/month with unlimited users

SM2Amanda DeVito may be the hardest working sales rep that I have the good fortune of calling a friend for the past two years. The tool itself is very close to pulling the same results as Radian6, give or take a couple hundred results in either direction.

Their sentiment is one of the best in the space, but the interface is not the most user friendly and the graphs don’t show percentages when exported. The initial startup for any search also takes some time to populate with the proper information.

Pricing – Based on results, the pricing starts at

M|Buzz – This is the tool that is being promoted from Meltwater. Many of the flacks reading this should be familiar with the company.

Their tool is a white-labeled solution of SM2 and the only difference between the two is the price.

Pricing – $13,000/year with unlimited searches, existing customers get the same rate for 15 months

Nielsen Buzzmetrics – Now this tool was awesome when I sat in the demo. It was a total hands-off tool that had the good folks at Nielsen analyze what’s being said in the social space. They’ll give you reports quarterly or monthly.

I am a noted control freak and would want to be hands on, so the “we’ll handle it for you” approach didn’t work for me. It was also a costly service that put it out of my budget.

Pricing – $40,000/year

ViralHeatLooking for a tool that is dirt cheap and extends your buck? Well Viral Heat is for you. The tool is very basic, but shows a good snapshot of the viral aspect of your social circle and the conversation surrounding your brand.

I would not suggest it as a stand-alone product, but it is worth keeping for campaign tests and as a backup tool. I’m still pondering signing us up for this one for that reason.

Pricing – Starts at $9.99/month

Hopefully these reviews were helpful to you. Please let me know if you are using something different or think I am off-base on any of the reviews, I would be more than happy to discuss.

40 Responses to Picking a new social media monitoring service
  1. uberVU - social comments
    March 29, 2010 | 8:44 am

    Social comments and analytics for this post…

    This post was mentioned on Twitter by jeffespo: Picking a new social media monitoring service http://goo.gl/fb/qzsB [new post]…

  2. Mark Evans
    March 29, 2010 | 3:35 pm

    Jeff,

    You should take a look at Sysomos' social media services: Heartbeat (monitoring and measurement) and MAP (analytics and in-depth reporting). More information on both services can be found here: http://www.sysomos.com/products.

    cheers, Mark

    Mark Evans
    Director of Communications
    Sysomos Inc.

  3. Justin Wyman
    March 29, 2010 | 3:38 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    Good post. If next time you conduct a review, feel free to reach out to me (justin @ collectiveintellect.com) for a look at our services in reporting and monitoring (self service & managed). Beyond scoring automated sentiment at the snippet level, we analyze buzz for considerations such as economic, environmental, and quality to name a few. – Justin

  4. LizaSperling
    March 29, 2010 | 3:51 pm

    “Adding sentiment to posts, Tweets, videos, etc. is a very manual process that took a combined 10+ hours a week to do for monitoring our brand. So in a nutshell this was not scalable for our team to incorporate – which, at the end of the day, was the deal-breaker.” – Music to my ears!

    Jeff,
    Scout Labs is built for teams on the premise that “brands are protected in packs”, so it is great to hear how important this was to your decision. Thank you for writing a balanced comparison and walking us through your decision making process.

    We are happy to have you on board & look forward to hearing more about your team's needs!

    Liza Sperling
    Scout Labs

  5. jeffespo
    March 29, 2010 | 3:59 pm

    Thanks Justin. I will let you know in the future.

  6. Joseph Fiore
    March 29, 2010 | 4:07 pm

    Jeff,

    I'd like to suggest our RepuTrack™ service which includes sentiment scoring and human review in all categories of service.

    Thanks!

    Joseph | RepuMetrix Inc.
    @RepuTrack

  7. themaria
    March 29, 2010 | 5:48 pm

    Jeff,

    This is a detailed and very helpful review for someone evaluating various solutions in the space.

    I think you checked out Biz360 Community as well, I remember chatting with you, although I don't think we ever did a demo. If any of your colleagues and peers are looking for a solution that automates sentiment, please let us know if we can be of service. Our chief sentiment engineer actually wrote up a fairly in-depth piece on our blog, re: our approach to sentiment: http://blog.biz360.com/2010/03/inside-automated

    Cheers!

    Maria Ogneva
    @themaria @biz360

  8. jeffespo
    March 29, 2010 | 6:38 pm

    Hi Maria,

    We never checked out your product. There was some communication breakdown and at the end of the day, our decision was made so it didn't make sense rescheduling.

    Will check out the blog post as well.

  9. jeffespo
    March 29, 2010 | 6:39 pm

    Looking forward to it Liza

  10. jeffespo
    March 30, 2010 | 12:00 am

    Joseph – would be interested in giving a look for review's sake. Not in a purchasing mindset, but would be more than happy to give it a look/honest review.

  11. Teresa Basich
    March 30, 2010 | 12:12 am

    Hey there Jeff,

    First, thank you for the kind review despite your concerns about auto sentiment. We do actually have an automated sentiment engine that establishes sentiment at the sentence level, and there are widgets you can pull through our dashboard that directly break out sentiment. As you've seen, you can manually adjust the sentiment of posts, too, and configure additional sentiment subjects at the front-end of your topic profile build.

    Please feel free to get in touch if you have any questions about that feature of our platform, or if you'd like to give us some additional feedback.

    Cheers,
    Teresa

    Teresa Basich
    Content Marketing Manager
    Radian6
    http://www.radian6.com
    @TransitionalTee

  12. jeffespo
    March 30, 2010 | 12:19 am

    Hi Teresa,
    No problem, I was very happy with the tool and the widgets are awesome. They are some of the things that I will miss the most. However the one thing that I was looking for was the sentiment to be more automated. I had similar discussions with some of the folks on your tech side and would be more than happy to discuss with you if you'd like.

    I still highly recommend you as a service. Let me know if you want to chat.
    Best ~ Jeff

  13. Leigh Fazzina
    March 30, 2010 | 2:32 pm

    I did some heavy investigating and found that Nielsen Buzz Metrics really appears to have the cleanest data and will give you a FULL view of what the landscape looks like, not a partial view. But the service does come with a heavy price tag that many budgets don't allow for. What does “clean data” mean? No junk. No ads. No garbage.

    In healthcare PR, when you work on medicines, we often see “junk” returned in the monitoring like ads/mentions for “cheap meds” or drugs in Canada, etc. So a lot of time is spent cleaning this crap up. If you are a healthcare PR person, really look hard into this.

    Also look into:
    Biz360 Community Insights
    Filtrbox
    Sysomos
    Scoutlabs (strictly social media)
    Social Mention
    Social 360 (daily email report)

    Best of luck to those looking!

    Leigh Fazzina
    Healthcare PR | Social Media Consultant
    @LeighFazzina

  14. jeffespo
    March 30, 2010 | 3:15 pm

    Thanks for the comment Leigh. Neilsen comes up with awesome results and will offer you a clean look of the landscape – helps when you've got them working on it. That price tag is something that I couldn't sign off on, but see how it could be extremely useful for your industry.

    I gave some of those ones a look and wound up going with Scout Labs. I am also going to look into some of the other services and doing in-depth reviews of them as well. Will let you know when I get them up and running.

  15. socialwebsiteanalyzer
    April 4, 2010 | 9:42 pm

    Hi Espo,

    Nice list, very detailed and almost complete 🙂 I recently built a social media monitoring tool myself. With this tool you can track and monitor in 1 click of a button, your website social media exposure on more than 20 top social media sites. Among the crawled social websites are; social news, bookmarking, networks, file / video sharing, review sites, etc.

    It would be great it you testdrived it. Please let me know your thoughts and opinion;

    http://www.socialwebsiteanalyzer.com

    Good luck and keep up the good work.
    Erwin

  16. Al
    April 6, 2010 | 9:12 pm

    Really interesting reviews, can I ask if there is a reason you didn't mention Visible Technologies? I'm looking at the TruVoice and TruPulse products – any opinions?

  17. jeffespo
    April 6, 2010 | 9:33 pm

    To be honest Al, as you see from the comments on here there is a new technology every day. My search did not incorporate everyone in the market. There are just too many technologies, so I reached out to folks working in the social media space and sampled the companies that were at the tops of everyone's lists in terms of reputation and quality of results.

    Never checked those guys and can't give feedback on them however, check out Jason Falls review here ~ http://www.socialmediaexplorer.com/2009/09/09/v

    So while I can't be more helpful with them, feel free to shoot me an email if you are interested in knowing more about the other services above.

  18. jeffespo
    April 6, 2010 | 9:35 pm

    Erwin, would be happy to check it out. Do you offer more than just the charts and back links?

  19. socialwebsiteanalyzer
    April 6, 2010 | 9:43 pm

    Hi Jeff, this is the first release and I am currently collecting thoughts and opinions for new features within a next release. So not yet any other functions but I am very keen to receive any tips for improvement.

    Thanks!

  20. jeffespo
    April 7, 2010 | 2:06 am

    Gotcha – shoot me an email at the one linked on this page if you could and give me an elevator pitch as to what you think makes you stand out and I will give you a look.

  21. […] Comparison of Social Media Monitoring Services – the pricing is wild: from $40,000 a year to $9.99 a month. Without having used the services I wonder whether there really is that great a difference in the quality of the offerings or whether the industry is so new offerings haven’t yet become commoditized (and thus compressed price divergence). […]

  22. Rachel Levy
    May 1, 2010 | 6:52 pm

    Great post Jeff, thanks. Adding to to delicious now so I can refer back.

  23. jeffespo
    May 2, 2010 | 12:56 pm

    Glad to help Rachel

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  26. Cathy Harrison
    May 31, 2010 | 11:53 pm

    I'd be interested in getting your opinion of Crimson Hexagon versus these other tools. If you have a chance to check it out, write a Part II blog. This was very helpful – thanks!

  27. jeffespo
    June 2, 2010 | 2:17 am

    Hey there Cathy, while I am not looking for a purchase, I would be interested in taking a look for the purposes of this blog. Let me know.

    Thanks.

    Jeff

  28. Vladimir Oane
    July 20, 2010 | 9:58 am

    You should check uberVU as well: http://www.ubervu.com. Would love to get an honest review.

  29. jeffespo
    July 20, 2010 | 11:13 am

    Hi Vladimir,

    Would be happy to check it out. Would you set me up with a trial account?

  30. Vladimir Oane
    July 20, 2010 | 12:20 pm

    Wonderful. What's your email? You can email it to me at vladimir [at] ubervu [dot] com if you don't want to post it here 🙂

  31. jeffespo
    July 20, 2010 | 1:14 pm
  32. Mike Anderson
    July 20, 2010 | 4:47 pm

    Hi Jeff,

    Nice to see a review of the leading Buzz monitoring tools.

    You’re absolutely right, as part of the Meltwater Group, (leaders in the realm of online NEWS monitoring) we were excited to get into the social media space about 18 months ago. Therefore, M¦ Buzz entered into the social media monitoring market via a partnership with Techrigy SM2 in April 2009.

    I’m very excited to inform you that as of 1st April 2010 (3 days after you originally wrote the blog) we actually launched our own service, based on an acquisition of Buzzgain, and subsequent development based on feedback from our client base, by our team in San Francisco and Bangalore.

    We’re focussing Meltwater Buzz 2.0 on speed, volume and quality of results, usability, meta-data, analytics, advanced sentiment and a lot more.

    If you would like to run through a demo, please feel free to get in touch 🙂

    All the best

    Mike Anderson

    Director – Meltwater Buzz – U.K.
    http://www.meltwater.com
    @mikeander / @meltwaterbuzz
    mike.anderson(at)meltwater.com

  33. jeffespo
    July 20, 2010 | 4:59 pm

    Thanks for letting me know Mike. I heard whisperings while demoing, as I would have liked to test it. I would be interested in checking it out, but would be more of an educational benefit and to offer you feedback as we're set with our current offering.

  34. Shahzeb
    August 13, 2010 | 5:20 am

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    However, at the office, hoaxing encompassing teams amongst divergent happenings disciplines creates situations anywhere there are anti opinions almost how to carryout a follower’s goal.
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  35. SamAbs77
    August 26, 2010 | 6:28 pm

    Try out Actionly -Social Media Monitoring dashboard and listening platform. Offer a FREE account too! On Actionly you can monitor what people on various social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Blogs, Flickr, Youtube, News and Google Buzz.
    Thanks!
    -Sam (http://www.actionly.com)

  36. […] Deshalb habe ich begonnen, mir verschiedene Social Media Monitoring Tools näher anzusehen. Hier eine nette Liste von Social Media Monitoring Tools. […]

  37. LyraComm
    May 26, 2011 | 11:43 am

    This is a great blog post – still useful more than a year on. I called Lithium (Scout Labs) because of this post and suspect that I’ll end up saving my client a lot of time and money. Thank you Jeff!

    Kim McLaughlin

    http://www.lyracommunications.com

  38. jeffespo
    May 26, 2011 | 12:08 pm

    @LyraComm Glad to hear! Yeah the name changed , but they are still just as awesome.

  39. hopandant
    November 22, 2011 | 4:07 pm

    I’m using http://www.socialwatching.com and I really like it. Have you test it?

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