Four methods and 40 free tools for listening… continued

There are hundreds of tools you *could* use to monitor social media sites for discussions about your stuff. So how do you choose?

In this and a previous post, I’ve rounded up 40 of the best free tools, and suggested that, despite the bewildering choice, there are only four ways of putting those tools together in a listening strategy.

Part one covered 20 free tools and two methods: quick searches and email alerts. So I owe you 20 more tools and the other two methods, which are dashboards and aggregators. I’ll end with a list of essential RSS feeds (including, in case you don’t read that far, this little gem).

Method 3: ‘Start page’ dashboards

What is it? A single page showing mentions of your topic from across the web, arranged in a grid, updated in real time.
Advantages: Provides a fast, at-a-glance view; ideal for busy execs or non tech-savvy people; can be fine-tuned with laser accuracy.
Disadvantages: By far the most time-consuming option to build; easy to miss something important if not checked frequently.

Tools I use:

Others worth trying:

Know of a better way? Got good or bad experiences of rolling out dashboards in your organisation? Let me know via comments.

Method 4: RSS Readers/aggregators

What is it? Desktop or web-based software that allows you to combine an unlimited amount of web content in a single location.
Hugely scalable; allows you to mark items as ‘read’ like email, ensuring you miss nothing; easy categorisation of content.
Disadvantages: Can overwhelm less technical users; harder to share than a dashboard, with one notable exception…

Tools I use:

Others worth trying:

So that’s it: the four methods, listed in order from novice to pro. Do you agree with them? Are there any others? How do YOU do it?

Must-have RSS feeds

Before I go, here is my pick of the must have RSS feeds to plug into any dashboard, email alert or aggregator you may be building.

Run a search and grab the feed:

Harder to find:

No feed? No problem:

Too much information?

Finally, some commercial options I’ve stumbled across while researching this piece:

Further reading

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A really thorough and well thought out series of posts Neil. I like how you’ve broken them down into 4 methods. Thanks for including Radian6 on your commercial product list. Would love to have your feedback on our platform sometime if you are up for it. Let me know. Cheers. David

With our free version of SM2 you essentially get everything you’ve mentioned in one resource- check it out:

Hi Neil, this is a great outline! We just launched an advanced solution for online media monitoring, measurement and analytics. Yes we have a high quality sentiment engine and comprehensive geo/demographics but more importantly, we understand sematics and context which helps users understand what is being said. Also, ours is a totally interactive, instantaneous solution. The is a a free version with tens of thousands of regular users from all over the world.

Anyway, please check out our web site and if you are interested in seeing more, we’d love to show it too you.
Steve Dodd

Glad that you’re enjoying the social media firehose. Please send me any feedback you have!

Well, full kudos to the service providers for finding this post to drop by and comment so quickly. This is a pretty strong evidence that you’re listening, and that your tools work. Thanks to those who have contacted me outside of comments too. I enjoyed writing this post and hope it’s useful to people.

@Kingsley – seriously, nothing but praise to give you.

We also provide ssocial network monitoring, but we focus more on small and medium-sized businesses. We monitor, measure, and get involved in relevant online conversations for companies that don’t have the time or knowledge to do it themselves.


Thanks for your post and for your mention about iMente.

Thank you the list of RSS feeds is extremely helpful much appreciated :)

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