When I was at the #IMS09 conference, I got into a discussion with a fellow PR colleague about free monitoring tools (beyond Google Alerts). He had mentioned that his office had very little resources and that it was difficult to find the budget for all of the things that needed to be done in both marketing and social media marketing. I offered him our Free Tools Matrix as a way that he could see what types of gratis resources there are on the Web to monitor the conversations and to see how to connect with key influencers.
When my agency, PFS Marketwyse, begins a PR or marketing program for a client we do an in-depth audit or discovery session. One part of this session is evaluating the technology that the client already has in place to monitor the social media landscape. If they have monitoring tools previously in use, then we evaluate whatever platform they are using, and offer suggestions as to where they can supplement their “listening” approach with some free resources. In many cases, we find that there are usually areas or communities that need closer monitoring beyond what their software allows. Below is an example that I’d like to share with you that illustrates an evaluation of the Dow Jones Insight and Factiva software platform compared to several free monitoring resources, as well as where we recommended some additional monitoring tools.
Please note that this matrix is work in progress. However, it will give you a good idea about many of the free resources that are available (especially if you do not have a proprietary software system in place to do your brand monitoring).
Comparison between Dow Jones and Factiva Platform and the Free Tools:
As you can see in this particular example, the Dow Jones Insight and Factiva platform provides a great deal of ways to monitor conversations and to get insight on overall trends by industry. However, you can perform this evaluation with any platform, just by substituting your software in the first column of the matrix and then comparing what it has to what the free tools monitor. You can also add in additional free tools that you’ve found into the matrix to make it more comprehensive for your brand.
I hope that this information is helpful and the matrix gives you a good idea of many of the free resources that are available. We’re in the process of updating the matrix so feel free to make suggestions, if you see something missing.