If you’re using Google Alerts or individual sites to monitor what’s being said in the social-media sphere about a company, product, person or topic, you’re probably wasting time. More importantly, though, you’re probably missing critical sentiment.
That’s because Google, even with recent social-media enhancements, isn’t as good as a site that focuses on social-media search. And searching every site is near impossible.
There are plenty of media-monitoring services that are great for keeping track of realtime social-media sentiment for B2B companies, such as Radian6. But if you don’t need that kind of serious automated capability, there are free sites that are actually quite good.
I recently tested a bunch for a PR agency, using the terms “Salesforce.com”, “Reed Hastings” and “software analytics”. You might think these sites would be more or less the same. They’re not.
Here are six that stood out, ranked from best to worst:
- Social Mention
The last two, Joongel and Surchur.com, offered little B2B value.
Joongel, “Internet, the easy way,” is a simple web application for searching and navigating through the most popular sources on the Internet in different categories. The service says its search method is based on the geographic location of the user and traffic-ranking analysis. Sources include every major one except Facebook and LinkedIn. After a test, nothing came up for “salesforce.com” or “Reed Hastings”. Plus, it seemed glitchy at times.
Surchur.com, which describes itself as “realtime discovery, realtime search and realtime social,” is catered to seeing what’s trending more than anything. For most B2B applications, it has limited results. But it could be powerful for consumer issues.
Now on to the good ones. The one site I’d recommend somewhat is 48ers. Bottom line: Wasn’t great, wasn’t bad.
48ers, “which was created to help you search for what’s happening right now,” says it trawls conversations from all the major social networks to bring back “nuggets of information” to help you:
- Discover what people are saying about your company or brand.
- Find out what other people think of the TV shows you’re watching.
- Be the first to find out about breaking news stories.
- Tap into the public mood about the latest sporting events.
Sources include Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz (no thanks!), Digg and Delicious.
The site ranks searches by time posted and displays them in a Google-like format. Searches on the three topics yielded somewhat relevant and timely results, but they weren’t as exact as I was hoping for.
As for usability, Twitter results, perhaps because of the sheer amount of content, vastly outrank other results on the first page, so you have to click the other sources to see them. That’s a bit cumbersome and not really practical.
There are better social media search sites, including…
Addict-o-matic, the coolest-looking site of the bunch, “searches the best live sites on the web for the latest news, blog posts, videos and images.” It’s the “perfect tool to keep up with the hottest topics, perform ego searches and feed your addiction for what’s up, what’s now or what other people are feeding on,” the site says.
Sources include Google Blogs, WordPress, Twitter, YouTube, Flickr, Wikio, Ask.com, Friendfeed and more…but no Facebook or LinkedIn. It also searches regular engines such as Google News.
My observations? WordPress results are old and seem to have no ranking logic. Google Blogs results, however, are up to date and seem comprehensive. Twitter also seems up to date—latest post was 8 minutes old.
Usability was strong. It’s visually appealing and intuitive with its modular design. You can select which sources to use and can bookmark search terms and settings. It’s a bit annoying that the results contain so few words—you have to actually click the link to get a real view on what’s being said. It’s particularly nice, however, to come back to the site to have the results waiting for you.
Upsides? Segmented results, tremendous flexibility in searching, strong search capabilities, and a fun user experience.
The downsides? No LinkedIn or Facebook and having to click onto the actual sites.
Who’sTalkin.com is a social media search tool that allows users to search for conversations surrounding the topics they care about most, “whether it be your favorite sport, favorite food, celebrity, or your company’s brand name.”
Sources include 60 sites, including Facebook and LinkedIn.
WhosTalkin.com breaks searches down by category, like Social Mention, which is analyzed below, and you can also search by source. Twitter results were only 10 seconds old. Facebook results all seemed timely and relevant. The LinkedIn search was also solid. (I must say that in the weeks following this analysis, search results have occasionally taken a long time).
As for usability, it doesn’t look impressive, but this site is the only one reviewed that delivered consistent results for all major networks. However, subsequent uses have yielded painfully slow results.
Upsides would be that its sources include Facebook and LinkedIn.
Downsides would be that you can’t create alerts, it’s slow sometimes, and is just an average user experience.
Social Mention is the clear winner here, although I also like Addict-o-matic and WhosTalkin.com. Social Mention describes itself as a “social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the universe into a single stream of information. It allows you to easily track and measure what people are saying about you, your company, a new product, or any topic across the web’s social media landscape in real-time.”
Sources seem to include every major social site, including Facebook and LinkedIn. Plus it offers basic sentiment analysis capability (you should check it out), daily social media alerts and a buzz widget.
On a search for “salesforce.com”, with a parameter of the last 24 hours, it brought up 97 Twitter results, 26 Stumbleupon results, three for Bing, one for Facebook and one for Google Blogs. However, another search did not deliver any Facebook results and a subsequent search brought up 19.
The sentiment analysis section is impressive looking, but it would take repeated use to determine how accurate it really is. It can tell you how many results appear to be negative, neutral or positive. Given recent bad publicity around Netflix, the sentiment analysis for its CEO, Reed Hastings, seems as if it would be pretty accurate.
Rather than separating by source, Social Mention lets users search by category, such as blogs and networks, which actually makes sense. If you want, you can click the individual source after a search.
For some reason, Facebook results were glitchy. Sometimes they showed up. Other times they didn’t. But that could very well be an anomaly. I can deal with this, though.
Another great feature of Social Mention are alerts, which are like Google Alerts, but they are, as of this writing, not available.
As with anything free, no site is perfect. The site with the most power, functionality and context is Social Mention. The site that has the best Facebook and LinkedIn results, at least during this testing, was WhosTalkin.com. The best user experience, especially if you want instant results automatically, is Addict-o-matic…but it has limited sources and is the distant runner-up.
For those who want just basic social-media monitoring, would like some sentiment analysis, and don’t mind a little manual effort, your search should end at Social Mention.