Social media has revolutionised the ways in which the game of marketing, advertising and promotion is played. Almost every brand that exists is now roaring out loud on social media. But there is a lot of skepticism over what makes an impact and what goes unheard. To let brands gauge the impact of their efforts and the direction in which they should focus, social media tools were introduced to make managing and analyzing the data that emanated from overflowing conversations easier.
Now, with so many tools cluttering the space, it’s an ordeal to decide what might work for you. If you’re just starting out in social media and looking for something to make running and measuring your campaigns a bit easier, here are a few of the most widely used and effective social media management and analytics tools available:
This tool helps website owners in tracing what viewers are doing once they click on your website. It offers four sub-tools to carry out the same, however the more useful ones are:
- Heatmap — This is one of the most popular ones, which gives a clear picture of where people clicked on your site. It helps in analyzing what’s ‘hot’, so that one can tweak the content and its placement to proliferate conversions.
- Scrollmap — The output from this tool reveals shows how far down the page people hitting the site are scrolling and at point are they stopping the process. This helps in determining placement of content and deciding what all needs to be above the fold.
This service by Google is the most widely used website statistics service. GA tracks visitors from all platforms that refer your site, including search engines, display advertising, pay-per-click networks, e-mail marketing and digital collaterals. The data is available both in in-depth and dashboard-type casual format. It is implemented with “page tags”, called the Google Analytics Tracking Code, which run in the client browser when the page is being browsed and collects visitor data, which includes information such as whether the visitor has been to the site before, the timestamp of the current visit, and the referrer site that directed the visitor to the page.
However, the service is of no use in situations where users delete their cookies or have turned off java script. Google Analytics for Mobile package allows GA to be applied to mobile websites. Also, the Google Analytics API allows third parties to build custom applications like reporting tools.
Pagelever is one of the most popular analytics tools for measuring a brand’s presence on Facebook. Since it requires access to your Facebook page, it carries the ability to lure out information about data that went unnoticed earlier on, as detailed as being able to point out the actions that might lead to fans un-liking your page. It brings together first-party and third-party data with publishing tools, optimizing the entire social marketing lifecycle. It enables one to see the data in almost real time and lets you plan for the moment. For example, if a post is getting popular and garnering likes, and you intend to maximize its reach, quick insights this will let you plan for promoted posts.
Piwik is an open source web analytics software and a free substitute for Google Analytics. It is gradually gaining popularity as it offers more privacy and better control and ownership on all visitor interaction data.
Radian 6 is a monitoring tool for all the mentions of your brand across the social media landscape. The two attributes that make the tool really efficient are its coverage and the ability to integrate. It gathers data for analysis from blogs, the Facebook API, Twitter, etc.
It can also be easily integrated with applications like Salesforce.com and analytics services like Webtrends, Omniture and Google Analytics. It is a kind of complete package for brands involved in corporate marketing. Some of Radian 6’s services include insights, an engagement console, summary dashboard, social hub and marketing cloud. All of the data captured is in real time.
Bitly is one of the most popular URL shortening and social media bookmarking tools worldwide. Apart from shortening URLs and allowing the creation of custom short URLs, the service also lets you view statistics related to users that click on generated links. Additionally, it can also generate QR codes and provides an expanded access to its data archive.
This tool aggregates user generated content from across the networks into a compact repository of useful information. It allows brands to easily keep track of what people are saying about the brand or its new product, in real-time, including data from more than a 100 platforms.
It employs Yahoo’s BOSS search platform to carry out the same, distinguishing the results on the basis of their source. Another valuable feature is “hot conversations”, which lists trending discussions, but doesn’t categorize it. The advent of this tool has made the concept of keywords and tags really valuable.
This is not a tool, but a company that not just helps in creating a real-time valuation of brand mentions but goes a step ahead to identify the reasons that led to the mentions. It also manages to bring forth the key influencers. Another of its products, Sysomos Heartbeat, offers monitoring and engagement insights to communication professionals. It makes use of contextual text analytics and data mining technology.
Wildfire is a complete social media marketing suite and a global leader. The suite includes best-of-breed social promotion software, robust mobile and desktop page management, messaging and sophisticated real-time analytics in one complete platform. It lets its clients manage ads, pages and messages, and helps monitor and analyze promotions. The distinguishing factor that makes this tool most powerful is the fact that it is in discussions with Facebook already. Facebook itself, in fact, is an investor in Wildfire through its fbFund.
Hootsuite is one of the most popular tools with a comprehensive dashboard that supports integration of all major social networks. It allows scheduling of updates, collaboration and RSS integration. Customized analytics and scheduled reports are few of its strongest points. Further, it is available in the form of mobile apps as well.
There are a few downsides though: the free version allows access to only limited features and reports (if you want more, you have to pay and go Pro) and there have been some reports that posts made using the tool have been known to have lower Facebook edge rank, thus lower visibility. You’re also bound to using ow.ly and ht.ly URLs unless you add a custom domain.