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  • The Social Media Monitoring Lighthouse – A Guide on What and How to Monitor

Social media monitoring lighthouseDo you realize how valuable it is to monitor and track conversations online?

Are you monitoring the trends related to conversations about your brand? Is all that social media activity paying off?

What are people saying that is negative or positive about you or your business?

There are many things to consider when looking for monitoring tools but the most important thing is that you are monitoring conversations!

In this guide, we go through what you need to be monitoring and how to do it.

You may also be monitored!!

secret service monitoring
Who is monitoring you?


89% of marketers found listening to be effective but only 37% listened -Saleforce 2015 state of marketing reportClick To Tweet

 The Social Media Monitoring Lighthouse

The main purpose of a lighthouse is to serve as a navigational aid and to warn of danger.  The same can be said for monitoring tools.  They are very useful to monitor conversations online and deal with any issues (positive or negative) as they occur.  You beam your light on what’s relevant to you to avoid the noise.

We have broken down the functionality that is likely to be found in monitoring tools.  Most tools don’t have all of the functionality so you need to figure out what is most important to you.

social media monitoring lighthouse


Note:  We reached out to get feedback about the lighthouse before we published this post and this made the Lighthouse so much better because of the great feedback.  Thanks to: Christin Jones Kardos, Mike Alton, Todd Davis, Sean Nolan, Chris Hennkens, Joanne Sweeney-Burke, Kevin Mullet, Dan Purvis, Peter Nieforth, Dilyan Grigorov, Andrew Jenkins, Lilach Bullock, Mindy Iannelli, Mick Griffin, Stephen Dudley, John Koestsier, Carol Faughnan.

Conversation Tracking

As well as monitoring specific keywords, you’ll also want to monitor conversations that happen online.  This is initiated through a message that’s shared but there’s also benefit in tracking the responses to this message.

Keyword/Topic Monitoring

Every monitoring tool will provide you some capability of monitoring specific keywords (in isolation, as part of a URL, as a hashtag etc.).

You may also need to monitor particular topics, which may have conversations around groups of different keywords.

People mention what they are doing on social media channels and they also look for advice.  They could be talking about buying a relevant product or service or asking questions about it.

They could also be talking about their feedback on a product or service they have purchased, which is important to monitor from a customer service perspective.

Real-time Insights

At times, you want to monitor what is happening right now.  You could be running an event and you want to track real-time mentions so you can respond to and track them.

Campaign Analysis

When you create a specific campaign, you’ll want to isolate activity based on this campaign and report on everything within the campaign.  There’s no perfect solution for tracking all activity for a campaign but you can do it based on a combination of a number of factors, for example:

  • Hashtag – Hashtags will not be used for all mentions and for all platforms but it’s a great way of isolating traffic
  • Link tracking – You can add additional parameters to your links so you can track activity on those links
  • Tag Lines/Campaign names – There may be specific words that you can track that are used quite a lot with the campaign.

Influencer Monitoring

Relevant Influencers drive conversation and action so they are an important part of social media.  Your monitoring tool should help track a variety of things in this area:

  • The partner influencer – You may actively work with influencers to promote your campaigns on a paid/unpaid capacity.  You’ll want to measure the impact they are having as part of the campaign.
  • The participating influencer –  You may not have a relationship with the influencer but you may still want to track mentions they make.  They could be saying something positive or negative about your company.  You may want to track and respond.
  • The sleeping influencer – There may be influencers who are not involved in the conversation but you want them to be! You’ll need to track their conversations so you can start to encourage them to participate.

Here is an example of a clothing retailer who wanted to track influencers for a specific campaign using Brandwatch.

They had a campaign involving influencers such as David Beckham (footballer) and Beyonce (singer).  They wanted to figure out which influencer was driving the most impact.

Using Brandwatch, they created a category and then sub categories.  The category was the influencer and the sub categories were actions they wanted to track.


You define categories and sub categories to filter out relevant conversations


One of the actions was ‘Intent to purchase’.  To track the intent to purchase, they would set up a rule that looks something like this.  It looks complex but is not that bad!!

brandwatch rule
Define the rules for the categories


Based on this, they could identify tweets like this where there was purchase intent and Beyonce is mentioned.

A filtered tweet with purchase intent mentioning Beyonce


Competitor Monitoring

Monitoring competitors will lead to opportunities for business, thanks to learning more about their product and service and more.

Sentiment Analysis

Here’s the Wikipedia explanation of sentiment analysis:

Sentiment analysis (also known as opinion mining) refers to the use of natural language processing, text analysis and computational linguistics to identify and extract subjective information in source materials.”
Sentiment analysis has a bad name because it’s never 100% accurate.  That is because it’s impossible to be 100% accurate but it does give you an overall indication of the level of sentiment, e.g whether views are generally positive or negative, and it can identify trends.

Social Analytics

All tools need to provide some reporting capabilities.  Track your social media analytics in relation to what you monitor and produce reports.  Check out our social media analytics compass.

Social Media Compass

You’ll also want to measure the growth of your social circles and the level of social amplification from content shared, however, you’re drifting into the functionality of the analytics tools so you only want high level information here.

Reputation Management

Your reputation is so important online because both bad and good news spread quite quickly.  As part of your reputation, there are also online reviews, which are shared a lot and heavily influence search listings on sites such as Google.

Online reviews are increasingly important so monitoring tools need to be able to find, analyze and report on any review.

Historical Analysis

When you sign up for a monitoring tool, what about all the conversations that have happened over the past months or years?  You’ll want to learn from previous data so it’s important to be able to track this.

Emerging Trends

What about predicting what’s to come?  There are tools that will highlight a potential trend before it even happens.  For example, imagine being able to catch some negative press before it reaches the masses!  Trendspottr is one tool that finds trends before they go viral.



Media Monitoring

If you get some media attention it’s useful to isolate this out separately.  This could be because you want to identify the value of a PR campaign that you ran.

Sales Leads

You may also want to isolate any clicks through to your web site and leads generated.  This may require some integration with other tools so you can track everything from a mention to a click through to a lead or sale.

Share of Voice

You’ll want to own the conversation online related to your products and services in comparison to your competitors.  Monitoring tools can track the relevant conversation, compare it with your competitors, and work out the share of voice of that conversation.


You will need to produce visually appealing reports to give you a bird’s eye view of what’s happening.

Summary of Social Media Monitoring Tools

We have picked out a broad range of monitoring tools for you to review.


1. Brand24.net

We came across Brand24brand24aff about a year ago and starting testing out the tool.  We really liked it.

The results provided through the tool are very comprehensive and they provide visually appealing reports.

You can monitor mentions using a graph that shows activity over a period of time.  Then, you can filter those mentions based on the channel e.g. Facebook, Twitter, blogs etc.


Brand24 main dashboard


The influencer report is cool – you can view the top influencers who are sharing your content.


View more influential people sharing out your content


Brand24 has some great functionality and the results displayed are pretty impressive.

Price:  From $49 to $349 per month.


2. Mention

Mention provides a really good user interface with a very nice mobile app for monitoring mentions across many platforms.

It tracks mentions of your brand in 42 different languages.  There’s also good team functionality for assigning mentions for your team members to deal with.


Respond directly within Twitter


Price: From $29 to $299 + Enterprise pricing available on request.



Trackur is a social media monitoring tool that provides executive reporting, sentiment analysis and influence scoring.  It’s unusual to have sentiment analysis available for a monitoring tool with a relatively low starting price ($97 per month).



Price: From $97 to $447 per month.


4.  Ubervu

Ubervu was recently acquired by Hootsuite.  It analyzes over 100+ million data sources in 55 languages and provides real-time analytics.

Ubervu provides full demographic analysis, which helps you understand the audience that is sharing content related to what interests you.


5.  Talkwalker [Alerts are Free]

Talkwalker offers an enterprise-monitoring solution but it also has a free alerts application.

You cannot monitor Facebook, Twitter and other social networks but you can monitor forums, blogs etc.

You can set up multiple alerts for your brand name, keywords etc. and define how frequently you want to get the alerts.


TalkWater Alerts Settings
A better alternative to Google Alerts

Talkwalker will then send you an email with the alerts.  It’s not as comprehensive as a paid solution but still provides some very useful results.

Price: Alerts are free. We discuss the paid version later in this post.


6. Rival IQ

Rival IQ, which I mentioned above, is a competitor-intelligence platform with very useful monitoring capabilities.  You can track a group of your competitors to identify how they are performing in relation to SEO, social media etc.

One area of monitoring that is really useful is to get alerts when your competitors change some key content on their profiles and/or they have a break-out post.

We have shown an example of an alert where there is a break-out post.  This is when your competitor has shared a piece of content that has done extremely well.  This is always useful to monitor.

Another type of alert is when your competitor changes something on their profile on any of the social networks.  For example, if they change their Twitter profile description, you get alerted on what they had before and what they have changed it to.

This is really useful because a change is generally related to a shift in the positioning of their business, so it’s well worth tracking.

Price: Prices start at $199 a month.


7. TrendSpottr

Trendspottr predicts trends related to the content that is shared out on social media.  It then alerts you when trends happen.

Based on a complex set of algorithms, it will monitor for content shared online through social media and predict whether any of these posts are likely to trend.

Get email alerts for articles about to trend


You enter your keywords and then you will start to get notifications.

Imagine if something was about to trend that was really negative about your brand, I think you’d want to know about it!!

Price: Prices start at $199 a month.


8. BuzzSumo

BuzzSumo is a tool for competitor research.  It will analyze content based on keywords or a domain name and show the most shared content, the most linked-to content and it will give you details of any influencers who are sharing the content.

You can also set up four different types of alerts to get notified of certain things.  For example:

  1. If a keyword/domain name is mentioned in a piece of content shared more than a certain number of times.
  2. If someone links to your website.
  3. To get alerted when an author publishes a piece of content.
  4. To get alerted when any particular domain has a ‘break-out’ post (i.e. one that’s shared a lot).

Price: Prices start at $99 per month.


Larger Business Monitoring Tools

9. Brandwatch

Brandwatch is a social media monitoring platform that supports 27 languages and provides results from millions of social news and media sources across the web.


Nicely presented reports


Brandwatch has a really flexible query build that allows you to build up complex queries so you can filter only the most relevant results.  There’s a great feature where authors can be displayed, so you can track the most influential people.  They also have really good alerts.

Brandwatch provides direct integration with Spredfast, which is a nice feature because you need a management tool to work alongside a monitoring tool.

Price: Starting at $800 for up to 10k mentions.


10. Radian 6

Radian 6 is a well-established player in the listening category with over 3,000 clients. It is part of the Salesforce suite of products and has a broad range of functionality.

One of the dashboard views

Radian 6 covers over 150 million sources ranging from blogs, forums, Facebook public API, Twitter, and photo and video sharing sites.  It has a nice workflow and automation features to help track and respond to mentions.

Price: Starting price is $1000 per month, which includes 20,000 posts/month and unlimited users. For $3000 you get 250,000 posts/month. If you are an agency, you get 1 million posts/month for the same price.


11. Sysomos

Sysomos has two products: Heartbeat is a real-time monitoring tool and Map is a listening tool, where you can monitor conversations and track key influencers.

You can look up topics over specific periods and analyze them by demographic groups, geography and much more.

sysomos charts
Nicely presented charts with Sysomos4. Talkwalker

Price: MAP is $2,750 per month with unlimited queries and 1 seat license.


12. Cision

Visible Technologies (recently acquired by Cision) is a listening tool that provides comprehensive monitoring capabilities with a focus on actionable insights.  Here are some of the key areas of functionality:

  • Social media listening – Unlimited on-demand search and analytics, ability to track brand buzz, competitors, industry news, market events, sentiment and trending topics.
  • Global multi-language capabilities – A truly global solution with data from the major languages around the world.
  • Enriched data analytics – Understand consumer habits, preferences, unmet needs and how to maximize return on your marketing investment.
  • Customer engagement – Engage with the customer directly through the platform on Facebook or Twitter.

Price: Contact Cision for pricing, which depends on requirements.


13. Attensity [Now changed their business]

Attensity is a social analytics and engagement platform specifically designed for very large companies.  It uses natural language-processing techniques to analyze and identify the most important and relevant conversations.

An example of what Attensity Provides

There are four key areas to Attensity:

  • Analyze – Use Attensity natural language processing to analyze content in emails, social networks, call centre notes, CRM and other sources and produce actionable insights.
  • Pipeline – This is a real-time, semantically annotated social-media stream that uses text analytics and natural language processing to filter social conversations to find the most important and relevant conversations for your product, service or industry. Listening solutions will find conversations but Pipeline will filter these and remove the noise. For a large company, there is far too much to do this manually.
  • Respond – This uses natural language processing to uncover customer-generated insights, requests for information, and to identify complaints, and product issues. Then, through a business rules engine, these can be acted on and responded to accordingly.
  • Command Centre – This is a solution for monitoring online channels in relation to product launches and evaluating and predicting the success or failure of these products, based on detailed analysis.

Price: Each client of Attensity is large so it uses custom pricing, depending on requirements.


14. Talkwalker [Paid version]

We already mentioned a free alerts application provided by Talkwalker but their main application is an enterprise social-media monitoring tool.

  • Coverage in 187 languages.
  • Extensive filters available to help you identify the most relevant data.
  • Real-time data plus access to historic data.
  • Benchmark your brand against industry peers.

Price: Prices start at $700 a month.


15.  Bottlenose

Bottlenose is primarily a trending-analysis platform that monitors trends on social media.  Here is its main functionality:

  • Automated trend alerts – It monitors over 3 billion messages every hour to find emerging people, content and topics.
  • Live dashboard – You can monitor a real-time dashboard to keep an eye on trends.
  • Real-time search and discovery – You can search for relevant conversations in real time.

Price: Contact Bottlenose for pricing.


16.  Digimind

Digimind is a nicely designed monitoring and analytics platform.  When you are monitoring content, you can filter it by:

  • What: The most mentioned topics related to your conversation.
  • When: A trending graph showing mentions over a period of time.
  • Where: A breakdown by channel.
  • Who: A table showing the influential people who are sharing content.
  • How: Sentiment analysis on the mentions.
  • Mentions: The content found across each of the platforms (Twitter, Web, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram).

Price: One price, $499 per month.


17. Meltwater Buzz

Meltwater is a general monitoring solution that also has social media management capability.  It also provides the ability to create customized Facebook applications.

Meltwater monitoring
  • Monitoring solution – Tracks Twitter, Facebook, over 200 million blogs, forums, and more. Their access to Twitter is via Topsy and GNIP. They do not have direct access to the Twitter firehose.
  • Media monitoring – This is a separate product (not built from the same source code), which focuses purely on monitoring news sites and is ideal for a PR team. They have 230k news sites in their index. You can create a basic query or create a very advanced boolean query to return relevant results.
  • Social media management – There is a management component that currently only supports Facebook and Twitter.
  • Facebook connect – This is a suite of customizable applications for polls, surveys, contact forms and a promotion builder for building applications such as contests on Facebook.

Price: Prices are available on request.


18. Nuvi

Nuvi is a real-time social media monitoring tool that provides full social media coverage across Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Tumblr, Flickr, Instagram, Google+, Delicious, Reddit and over 5 million RSS feeds.

Nuvi dashboards provide instant feedback on campaigns and allow you to monitor trending concepts in real time.

Price:  From $500 to $2500, which includes a dedicated support manager.


19. Crimson Hexagon

Crimson Hexagon is suitable for large enterprises that need to analyze large volumes of data, using intelligent algorithms to make sense of it.

Conversations are monitored, categorized, analyzed and presented in a form suitable for digestion.  There is advanced topic-analysis functionality to track and analyze topics within topics.

For example, if you were tracking a hashtag you could automatically track the topics within the hashtag.

Topic wheels shows the grouping of conversations related to a topic.

Their ‘ForSight’ product is a very advanced social media research tool that goes beyond monitoring and sentiment analysis.


20. Synthesio

Synthesio monitors across 50 languages in 200 countries through social media and traditional media outlets.  Data is aggregated and presented in a suitable form.

SynthesioRank will rank websites and users to help you identify the most relevant and important conversations.

Synthesio SRS (social reputation score) provides a benchmark, comparing you with your competitors so you can understand how you are performing in relation to them, e.g. sentiment score, SWOT analysis and crisis monitoring.

Monitoring is available across 50 languages in 200 countries.


21. ViralHeat (part of Cision Social Suite)

ViralHeat was originally a social media monitoring tool, which added on social media management functionality.

Monitor conversations across Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, YouTube, Google+, Tumblr, FourSquare,  Yelp and others.

Competitive analysis features are available so you can track and compare your performance with your competitors.

22. Tailwind Professional

Tailwind professional edition has excellent functionality for monitoring Pinterest and Instagram.  You can monitor content and conversations.  It even has pixel tracking so you can track images shared from your website to Pinterest.



Monitoring is a really important part of managing your social media presence.  By monitoring, you will learn so much about your customers, competitors and your industry.

Which social media monitoring tools do you use, or will you use, after reading this post?

What have I missed from the social media monitoring lighthouse?

I’d love to hear from you.


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