Buzz Monitoring: 26 Free Social Media Tracking Tools
There are a lot of companies that will happily relieve you of your dollars, in exchange for buzz monitoring services. While many large companies will enjoy the peace of mind that comes from having a company track their reputation for them, the rest of us need something a little less expensive–or better yet, free!
We’ve compiled a list of twenty six buzz monitoring tools that are free of charge. Use these tools to keep track of your company reputation or even spy on your competition! Take a look at Trackur.com if you need an all-in-one buzz monitoring tool.
1. Your Industry
If you simply don’t have time to track everything that specifically relates to your company–or your competition–you can still track news that relates to your industry. Moreover and Yahoo are just a couple of resources that offer RSS feeds for aggregated industry news.
2. Mainstream Media News
One of the best ways to track mainstream media mentions of your company is to use Google News. Enter your company name, sort the results by date published and then subscribe to the RSS feed. You’ll get instant RSS updates of any news items that mention your business. Example for “apple“.
3. News Buzz
It’s one thing to track any news that relates to your business, but what if you just want to know about the news that becomes popular? Sites such as Digg and Reddit will let you search for submitted stories that match your company name. Subscribe to the resulting RSS feed and you’ll know about any story on Digg that mentions your company–or your biggest rival.
4. Social Media News
By the time a hot news story gets picked-up by the mainstream media, it could have made the rounds for days in the blogosphere. You can capitalize on positive buzz and put out any reputation fires by tracking social media. Technorati is one of the best options for tracking social media sites. Custom RSS feeds let you get quick updates on any blog that utters your company name.
5. Blog Posts
If a blog happens to “ping” the blogosphere, the chances are that it will get on Google Blog Search. Even if the blog isn’t in Google news, or doesn’t make the main Google index, Google Blog Search might still find that story that mentions your CEO or your recent product launch. Get alerts to matching stories via email or RSS.
6. Blog Comments
Sometimes tracking a blog post doesn’t reveal the full conversation about your business. The blog post might be positive, but those leaving comments could attack your reputation. Services such as co.mments.com track the comments left on blogs. You can search for your brand and subscribe to the RSS feed for instant updates.
7. Blog Conversations
A negative blog post appears on a low-trafficked blog and there are no comments to track. End of story? Not quite, what if a very popular blogger picks up on the story? It could spread very quickly and catch you by surprise. Blogpulse’s conversation tracker will help you track who’s linking to that blog post about your company.
8. Blog Trends
How well is your competitor’s new product launch going? Blogpulse trends lets you track whether a keyword is getting growing blog mentions or not. Apple’s iPhone saw a 1000% jump in blog mentions leading up to its launch.
Remember the days when your customers would bookmark your site in IE and you never knew about it? Thanks to online bookmarking services such as del.icio.us more people are sharing their bookmarks online. RSS feeds make it easy to track whenever someone bookmarks a web page that includes mention of your company.
Did an employee release a top-secret photo of your new products? Did someone snap a photo of your CEO leaving a strip-club? The chances are high that they might upload it to image hosting sites such as Flickr. Luckily, you can subscribe to an RSS feed that will update you on any new image that matches your company name?or the name of your slimy CEO.
So what if your CEO was caught on video having a lap-dance? Ouch! Ok, less damaging, someone releases a video showing a negative product review. Google Video recently switched focus to index videos from many online hosting sites (such as YouTube and MetaCafe). Now you can keep track of videos that include your company.
Wouldn’t it be great if you could enter a keyword and see who used that word as a “tag” How much better would it be if you could see matching tags across more than a dozen sites? Keotag.com does just that, making it easy for you to track if someone tags a page using your company or product name.
13. Forum Posts
Sometimes the most important conversations don’t happen on blogs. Forums and message boards can host conversations about your company and you’d never know about it. Don’t panic! Sites such as Boardtracker.com will keep an eye on popular forums for you and alert you by RSS if your company is mentioned in a thread.
14. Changing Information
Wikipedia is one of the most trusted resources for information on the web. You might be interested in any updates to your company profile or maybe you want to know if your competitor is trying to remove links to your web site. Fortunately you can track change history for any Wikipedia page and have the changes sent to your RSS reader of choice.
15. Job Listings
If your competitor wants to start a new service or launch a new product, the chances are they’ll need to hire new staff to achieve this. Classifieds search engine Oodle scours many online job listings and aggregates the information in a central location. Set up RSS feeds for searches on your biggest competitors and you’ll know whenever they list a vacant position.
16. Financial Filings
You can get a good feel for the financial health of your publicly-traded competitors by keeping a close eye on their SEC filings. Use Edgar Online and you’ll know if they’re subject to an SEC investigation or if their CEO is dumping stock faster than Martha Stewart.
17. Conference Calls
Sticking with public companies, sometimes you can learn some competitive information by listening to the company’s conference calls. But who has time for that? SeekingAlpha lets you subscribe to the RSS feed of conference call transcripts. Open up the transcript and you can quickly get a snapshot of their financial health. You might even learn about a new product launch–one which you might want to think about for your business.
Keeping track of patent filings was notoriously difficult before Google Patent Search came along. Now you can keep any eye on patents filed that relate to your industry. Better yet, keep track of patents that might violate your company held patents.
Yahoo’s Upcoming lets you get RSS alerts on any new event that matches your selected keyword. You can keep track of conferences that you might want to attend, or sponsor. In addition, you could keep track of seminars or meeting being held by your competitors.
20. New Products
Let’s say you want to get some ideas of products that might be hot right now. Amazon.com lets you view product “tags” and then review similar tags. You can use this to get an idea of companion products that you might want to launch.
21. Search Query Trends
What search queries are popular at Google right now? Thanks to Google Trends you can get an idea of which keywords are most searched for. You can narrow your research to specific countries or cities–letting you know if a product has global or local appeal.
22. Keyword Referrals
Sure you could probably take an educated guess as to which sites might get the most traffic for a particular keyword, but it’s more fun to actually spy on your competitors. Compete’s Search Analytics allows you to enter a keyword and see which web sites are getting traffic for that keyword.
23. Site Referrals
Ok, so maybe you’re not sure which keywords you should target for your next SEM campaign. Compete’s Search Analytics will also let you enter any domain name and see which keywords are driving traffic to that site. Now you know which keywords your competitors are targeting.
24. Email Updates
If you’re not quite ready for all of that RSS reader nonsense, you can still keep track of the latest buzz via email. Google Alerts let you track web, blogs, news and groups for any phrase you want. Select daily, weekly or “as it happens” updates and you’ll get an email whenever your company name is mentioned.
25. The Untrackable
Some stuff just can’t be tracked that easily. If you want to track changes at a site–even if they don’t offer RSS or email updates–there are many tools that will do it for you. Our favorite is Copernic’s Tracker which, for $50, will let you keep an eye on any web site. Use it to monitor RipOffReport.com, forum threads, or even your competitor’s web site.
26. Anything You Want
You don’t have to be a developer in order to create your own custom buzz monitoring tool. Thanks to Yahoo Pipes, you can quickly set up your own RSS tracking, complete with filters. Want to track Twitter for mentions of your company? Not a problem with Yahoo Pipes.
Over to You
So, that should be enough buzz monitoring tools to get you going. Some are more useful than others, but all are FREE! What are your favorite buzz monitoring tools? Leave a comment or post to your own blog and ping us.
Like this post? Check out our FREE Beginners Guide to Online Reputation Management.