Given the increasing importance of reviews, not just for consumer brands but B2B offerings as well—plus backlinks, microinfluencers, and social media conversations—it’s vital to track online brand mentions.
Fortunately, you’ve got lots of options—not just for different monitoring tools, but for entirely different categories of tools. Before selecting a specific app, it’s best to think about a few questions that will help determine what type of tool to look for, such as:
- What’s your budget? (Obviously.)
- Do you just want to monitor brand mentions, or also competitors and possibly industry keyword phrases as well?
- What type of volume do you expect—-is it more like a few dozen results per month, or several thousand?
- Are you okay with just monitoring brand mentions on social media platforms, or do want to scan the entire web (news sites, forums, blogs, etc.)?
Here are four distinct categories of online brand monitoring tools, with several options in each group, to help you choose the best brand monitoring tool for your situation and needs.
UPDATE: This post was tweeted out mentioning each of the 22 tools below, by their Twitter handle, at least twice. Only four vendors responded: Social Searcher, Sendible, Brand24, and BrandMentions responded. Sadly, this doesn’t say much for the brand monitoring of (or at least by) the other tools.
Free Brand Monitoring Tools
No budget? No problem. These simple, free brand monitoring tools can help.
Google Alerts: Being the best free brand monitoring tool is kind of like being the highest mountain in Iowa. In online brand monitoring, you get what you pay for. Still, while this certainly won’t compete with the coverage of paid tools, Google Alerts are easy to set up and will (generally) catch more results than any other free alternative.
Social Searcher: You’re limited to searching the major social networks, 100 searches, and two email alerts daily, but within those limits, this is a solid free tool. Paid options provide greater capabilities and higher limits.
Tweetdeck: This is more of a management tool than a monitoring app, and it works only with Twitter—but within that realm, it’s a powerful free option.
SEMrush: Okay, you’re thinking “Wait, that’s not a free tool, why is this on the ‘free’ list?!” Here’s the deal: SEMrush is a very powerful SEO tool suite that starts at $99 per month. It’s hard to beat for SEO keyword research, rank tracking, and technical analysis.
It also has brand monitoring functionality, though compared to the rest of the tools in this suite, the monitoring is very limited: one brand, a handful of keywords, and limited coverage. You’d never pay for the brand monitoring functionality of SEMrush on its own. But, if you’re paying for the tool anyway for SEO use, the easy-to-use brand monitoring is a usable free feature.
Social Media Brand Monitoring Tools
Most of these tools are designed primarily for social media management (automating post updates across multiple platforms), but offer limited brand monitoring capabilities as well.
Union Metrics: Though limited to social networks, Union Metrics is a powerful tool for monitoring brand, competitor, and industry keyword mentions, combined with some nice analytics.
Hootsuite: This is primarily a social media management tool that enables individuals and teams to automatically schedule and post updates to multiple social networks. It does also provide limited social media brand monitoring capabilities.
Sprout Social: Another tool designed primarily for social media management, this also tracks brand, competitor, and keyword mentions across five of the most popular social networks.
Sendible: Sendible lets you post to multiple social accounts as well as monitor keywords, brands, and product names across social networks and blogs. Its social media listening tools help you prioritize replies by highlighting whether mentions are positive, negative or neutral.
Agorapulse: A toolset for social media listening, management, team collaboration, reporting, and influencer marketing.
SMB Brand Monitoring Tools
These tools monitor news sites, forums, job sites, .edu sites, and more in addition to social media platforms. And they are affordable for small to midsized organizations, with monthly pricing typically starting under $100.
Mention: Mention enables you to track brand, competitor, and keyword mentions across the most popular social networks plus news sites, blogs, and millions more.
Brand24: Pros: track your brand competitors across a broad range of sites; easy to use; excellent customer service. Cons: If your brand name is a generic word (e.g., Apple), filtering out irrelevant hits is challenging; also, no “undo” button.
BrandMentions: See Brand24. Seriously, all three tools in this category are so similar in terms of both their strengths and their shortcomings that it’s hard to pick a clear winner. Fortunately, all offer a free trial so you can compare them side-by-side, head-to-head for yourself and choose the best tool for your specific needs.
Enterprise Brand Monitoring Tools
These tools offer the most extensive coverage and sophisticated functionality, but their costs reflect it. Most don’t publish their prices, but monthly fees typically start at between $600 and $1,000, and—based on volume and other factors—can rise considerably from there.
LexisNexis Newsdesk (formerly Moreover): This is a premium, enterprise-grade tool, and its priced accordingly. But if you have the budget and need comprehensive coverage of sources around the globe, Newsdesk is very highly rated and hard to beat.
Cision: Per their website, Cision monitors “the largest collection of online, social, print and broadcast channels under one earned media cloud.” This is a worthy competitor for comparison with Newsdesk, particularly for public relations (PR) agencies and brands who invest significantly in PR.
Social Studio (formerly Radian6, now owned by Salesforce): Sort of a turbo-charged, enterprise-class version of the social brand monitoring tools above. If your organization is already using Salesforce, the tight integration makes it a no-brainer to at least evaluate this social media management and brand monitoring tool.
Talkwalker: Monitor brand mentions, analyze “share of voice” (how much is your audience talking about you compared to competitors?) and sentiment, determine the best times to post, identify influencers, even catch brand mentions within videos.
Socialbakers: An enterprise-grade social media monitoring and management tool, Socialbakers lets you track brand mentions across the top social networks, identify influencers, schedule and publish posts, analyze results, measure content performance, improve customer service, and measure brand sentiment.
CrowdTangle: Monitor brand mentions, competitor social media activity, and audience engagement with real-time dashboards. Owned by Facebook.
Netvibes: A social media dashboard tool for tracking brand mentions, analyzing competitors, and measuring audience sentiment and engagement. It also lets you import and compare external files and third-party data sets.
BrandWatch: A comprehensive brand monitoring toolset including brand management, content strategy planning, competitive analysis, customer experience tracking, influencer marketing, and crisis management capabilities.
Sysomos: A social research engine combined with influencer marketing tools, data analysis and visualization capabilities, post scheduling and publishing across social platforms, and audience engagement. Future direction remains to be seen as Sysomos is no longer an independent company.
Digimind: An AI-powered social media listening tool that helps measure marketing ROI, track brand mentions and reputation, and monitor competitors. It also includes a publishing module that automates the process of publishing information to users customized for their requirements.
Obviously, ignoring complaints and critiques can damage your brand over time. But failing to acknowledge and thank your brand advocates can also have a negative impact. Choose the right type of brand monitoring tool for your situation so you can respond quickly to negative comments and promote positive feedback.