Monitoring brand mentions on twitter is as easy as choosing one of the few dozen (or so) free tools currently out there. And for the rest of the social web, it’s almost that simple. That is, except for Facebook.
The major hurdle of Facebook monitoring is its users’ preference for privacy (not to mention the limited historical data). In fact, none of the tools I listed below are able to overcome this hurdle. Instead, you are left with a limited snapshot representing users & pages that are using less restrictive privacy settings. It is, however, not a complete loss: the following free tools can still be helpful in developing metrics to track your online branding efforts through Facebook:
Lets get the obvious out of the way first. When you sign in to Facebook, type your brand name or search phrase into the top center search bar and hit enter. Then, on the results page, click on “posts by everyone” (last link on the left). What you’re left with is real time results for wall posts from all (public) profiles or pages on Facebook!
While this isn’t the most robust tool out there, it deserves to be on this list because it’s the direct-from-the-source data that all the rest of the tools are using. And while it’s simply search results (and nothing more) it can be helpful in getting a quick idea of how often people mention your brand as well as showing the most recent results in real time.
While 48ers is little more than just a search engine, and offers little in the way of usable metrics beyond that of Facebook’s search feature, the advantage of using this (or one of the few similar Facebook enabled search engines) is that it doesn’t require you to log-in to Facebook.
What makes 48ers stand out from other (similar) services is its simple layout. It renders nicely on just about any device, includes avatars next to each post and even incorporates a link back to the original post. If you’re just looking for a quick overview of brand mentions in Facebook but you can’t log on…this is the tool I recommend.
Social Mention is another simple search engine that includes results from Facebook. What takes this tool to the next level, however, is it breaks down the results into metrics and allows you to dig deeper into who’s talking about your business.
One of the nicer metrics this tool gives is “sentiment” – whether or not a post was positive or negative in nature. With this breakdown, you can further filter out results to show only positive or only negative mentions. This and a host of other refinements including: a breakdown of users, keywords, and stats (i.e. average time between mentions). Definitely one of my favorite facebook monitoring tools.
By far, the best feature of this tool is the ability to set up email alerts of search terms. If you read this list looking for the ability to set up email alerts for brand mentions on Facebook…I highly recommend this one.
Trackur is a “White labeled, unlimited everything, social media monitoring dashboard” from Andy Beal & company. While the “unlimited” version of this tool isn’t free, there is a trial version that is limits users to a single saved search.
This tool works very similar to social mention in that you can enter a single search phrase and return results from Facebook (using the advanced search filters). The tool also includes sentiment estimates and a few more nice features to make it more useful for online marketers. What makes this tool stand out, however, is the ability to save a search (free version is limited to one) and receive updates as mentions are published (via RSS feed or email). If you were looking for a free tool that can turn Facebook mentions of your brand name into cleverly convenient RSS alerts…this is it.
Alterian SM2 (formerly Techringy)
SM2 by Alterian is a robust, feature rich tool that’s much more than just a Facebook monitoring tool. The free version limits users to 5 searches and 1000 results – which are cached until you delete them. If you plan on using the free version of this tool for Facebook only, however, the 1000 results can fill up quickly. The reason is: the free version doesn’t include pre-search filters. Instead, you fetch results from the entire web, then set filters (like showing results exclusively from Facebook) after the fact. In other words, once you set your search string, you have until 1000 online mentions(not just Facebook) of that search before the tool stops fetching results.
Despite this limit, however, this tool comes an array of advanced features like: the ability to set up multiple RSS feeds, a variety of demographic break-downs, and an array of advanced reporting tools you usually only get with expensive paid services. Small to medium sized businesses can use the free version as a wonderful brand monitoring tool, but may consider a subscription if/when 1000 results are not enough.
Did I miss any? What tools do you use? Share them in the comments!