Looking for an easy way to create a cool graphical email signature with trackable interactive buttons? Supplement your email list with your contacts’ social network info? Find out if the username or vanity URL you want is still available across dozens of social sites? Display a feed of brand-related comments from a variety of social networks on your website? Create video emails? Convert PowerPoint presentations to Flash, or into YouTube videos? Search for a brand name or keyword across all of the most popular social networks at once? Monitor social media discussions of your company or product in real time? Create animations? Promote events through social media? Gather competitive intelligence?
Economic conditions may have been tough in 2010, but there was no shortage of online innovation. Discover how to accomplish all of the tasks above and more using some of the coolest free and modestly priced social media and web tools released in the past year or so.
Cool Social Media Tools
A slick tool with free and fee-based options for creating graphical email signatures, adding interactive buttons and even tracking click-throughs from the different elements of your email signature.
A handy way to supplement your email contact list with information about those prospects from the most popular social networks.
Check dozens of popular social networking and social bookmarking websites to see if the username or vanity url you want to use is still available.
Don’t want to follow Twitterers who aren’t following you? This tool makes unfollowing non-followers easy.
A free tool for finding the relative influence of any Twitter user. For those accustomed to getting stratospheric scores on standardized tests, Klout can seem a bit harsh. If you need more of an ego boost, try TwitterGrader.
Create your own online newspaper from Twitter and Facebook updates based on any topic or group of contributors. Your custom paper is updated daily and easy to share.
***** 5 Stars
Display a feed of brand-related comments from a variety of social networks on your website. Highlight the best comments, selectively hide comments (e.g. that are irrelevant or profane), and enable site visitors to share comments back to their social networks without leaving your website.
A free service for setting up, promoting and hosting Twitter chats.
Social and Alternative Search Engines
A realtime social search engine that pulls current and recent results for any term from Twitter, Facebook, Google Buzz, Digg and Delicious. Searches can also be filtered by platform.
A different kind of search engine, Qwiki (currently in alpha) delivers a combination of audio, images and text in response to searches on an expanding variety of topics. In the site’s words, “Think of asking your favorite teacher about Leonardo Da Vinci, or your most well-traveled friend about Buenos Aires: this is the experience Qwiki will eventually deliver, on demand, wherever you are in the world… on whatever device you’re using.”
A powerful people search tool. Find long-lost acquaintances, extended family members, or a future love interest. Discover what information is available about a potential future boss or employee. Interesting, though the “Who’s searching for you” feature appears to be more a spammy sales tool than a functional offer.
Blekko’s Tools Give Search Marketers Google Alternative by MediaPost Online Media Daily
Granted, the web is littered with “Google killer” alternative search engines, but Blekko, created by Rich Skrenta and Mike Markson, is really cool. It enables users to perform slashtag searches, so for example, rather than just searching for “social media marketing” and getting a zillion results of all types, you can search for “social media marketing /blogs” to see only results from blogs. Or use /forums too see only results from discussion forums, /date to sort results by recency, or even create your own slashtags.
Social Media Monitoring Tools
A feature-rich, realtime social media monitoring and engagement tool. In addition to customizable search and sentiment monitoring, the Buzz Tracking feature provides realtime “metrics around how much buzz is out there, how much of it is yours, how much of it is your competitors’, and what’s buzzing industry-wide.” Lithium also includes response assignment and reporting tools. A free trial is available.
A slick, easy to use social media monitoring and alerts tool. Create an account or try it out by setting up a free alert in just seconds.
A social media monitoring tool that tracks your brand and keyword searches across Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, Google Buzz, Blogs, and News, and reports results hourly. Actionly also includes Twitter account management and analytics tools.
A realtime social media monitoring tool featuring sentiment analysis, key influencer tracking, and the ability to sort/view results by geography and demographics. Sysomos has an impressive blue chip customer list and the company’s recent acquisition by Marketwire gives it solid brand and investment backing.
Measure your social media marketing performance with tracking tools for the major social media networks, keep tabs on competitors and compare your results to theirs, and get alerts about trends and social media activity. Wildfire is designed to enable organizations to easily create branded interactive campaigns (e.g. sweepstakes, contests and surveys) and publish them to multiple social networks and their own website. Pricing ranges from $30 to $150 per month.
Other Cool Web Tools
Proclaim Messenger enables you to easily combine pre-recorded or live video with PowerPoint presentations to produce video email campaigns (with full analytics), one-off video sales emails, or hold live one-to-one or small group video chats. Pricing ranges from $30 to $100 per month depending on features.
Runaware’s TestDrive® suite of services provides software developers with marketing tools and a hosted interactive online demo environment that allows customers to evaluate real software in their web browser, complete with tutorials and detailed usage reporting. Runaware’s Cloud Platform offerings enable clients to experiment and evaluate SaaS and PaaS using their own application without requiring any modifications.
An inexpensive tool for converting PowerPoint to Flash web files, ideal for creating online presentations, Flash banners, photo albums, e-cards and more. You can import other Flash files and audio as well as record narration. The output can be saved as a Flash file for the web, converted to a self-running executable, used to create an auto-run CD or sent as an email attachment.
Billing itself as a “keyword analysis and comparison engine,” Qirina is a simple but useful SEO evaluation tool that helps users understand a site’s position in the keyspace, assess the quality of the site’s on-site SEO, and identify competitors in search.
Reviews of More Cool Web Tools
Another Cool Tool To Optimize Your Site Loading Speed by Daily Blog Tips
Now that Google is taking site loading time into consideration as a ranking factor, webmasters are feeling the need for speed as never before. Here’s a quick review of WebPageTest, a handy tool for checking any site’s pre- and post-cache load times.
6 slick news aggregators you should try by iMedia Connection
Josh Rose reviews six “news aggregators (including Popurls, Netvibes and Alltop) that…are moving beyond the simple RSS reader. These are customizable tools that can be shaped into exactly the right resource for the most important information you need to know.”
PowerPoints That Turn Into YouTube Videos Create Instant Marketing Tool by MediaPost Search Blog
Laurie Sullivan provides an update on Brainshark, “a tool that turns PowerPoint decks into YouTube videos. The platform turns a presentation into a video slideshow (with voiceover/audio) formatted to upload onto YouTube with one click.”
6 Free Sites for Creating Your Own Animations by Mashable
6 Newfangled Social Media Tools Worth Discovering by Convince & Convert
Jay Baer shares his thoughts on a small collection of tools worth checking out, including Curate.Us, which is sort of a social media-friendly version of ClipMarks; Formulists, a slick tool for automatically creating lists of your Twitter followers based on criteria you select such as having a similar follower count or having retweeted you in the past month; and Wibiya, which lets you create a custom footer bar for your blog or website that enable users to easily translate a page, share it via their social networks, link to your YouTube channel or perform other actions.
12 Social Media Tools for B2B Pre-Event Marketing by Social Media B2B
***** 5 Stars
Adam Holden-Bache presents a dozen tools that can “help event organizers extend an event’s visibility, attendance and pre-event conversations,” from LinkedIn Events and Facebook Events to build attendance, to location-based services for event check-in, to Slideshare for leveraging presentation content after the event.
***** 5 Stars
The brilliant Adam Vincenzini reviews a collection of highly useful social media tools including Twoolr for Twitter statistics, MentionMap for analyzing “what a particular person is talking about on Twitter and who they are talking to,” TouchGraph for visualizing where your site is being mentioned, and Citrify, a simple yet effective web-based photo editing tool.
The Best Things In Life Are Free: 10 Tools For Digital Professionals That Don’t Cost A Dime by MediaPost Online Media Daily
A quick review of 10 free tools for online marketers, for tasks like keyword research, competitive intelligence gathering, social media monitoring, test marketing and presentations.
Most Popular Free Windows Downloads of 2010 by Lifehacker
***** 5 Stars
The most popular free Windows tools of 2010, including Soluto for speeding up slow PCs, Snow Transformation for those who want their Windows screen to look like a Mac, Freemake video converter and editor, and MultiBootOS— a true geek tool that lets you load multiple operating systems onto a USB drive and select between them at boot-up.
4 Social Media Predictions for 2011 by oneforty blog
Social media monitoring tools are predicted to get both more sophisticated and less expensive in 2011, and several interesting vendors are cited here including Argyle Social, viralheat, Beevolve and eCairn.