Online brand reputation or social media listening software - a review of 26 tools

One of the defining features of 2009 for me personally is the power of Twitter to share ideas and tools with others. This post is a great example of this. I hope you find it useful. Please share your comments on which of these tools you have found effective or let us know about others that aren’t on the list.

The other defining feature for me in 2009, in the digital marketing world, is the growth in interest by marketers in how to listen to the conversations that customers have about their brands, particularly in social networks, forums and blogs.

Although I have been cataloguing online reputation management tools for 3 or 4 years now, I was conscious of the tremendous growth in the category in 2009 which meant that the list was no longer up-to-date.

Step forward Michael Brewer of Clerestorey who has compiled a more comprehensive directory of the leading tools to support his work in advising clients on monitoring their brands in social media.

1. Competitive landscape for reputation management tools

Reputation management tools have been categorised in different ways, for example
  • Listening platforms (used by Forrester in their review of 10 tools earlier in 2009)
  • Reputation or online management tools (ORM)
  • Brand defence tools
  • Social Media Monitoring or buzz tracking software
  • Consumer Generated Media (CGM) tracking
Within these areas, Michael has defined 7 different product categories for brand reputation management and monitoring software which you can see in the 7 colour coded sections of the table.

Category 1 - Wide scope analytical and reporting tools for all aspects of monitoring customer opinions and campaign effectiveness

Category 2 - Blog based influence assessment tools, designed to gain access to influential customers/commentators

Category 3 - PR and media management tools for reputation management and assessing opinion forming influence

Category 4 - Social media tracking and intervention including free tools

Category 5 - Fraud protection, security and threat detection

Category 6 - News media tracking

Category 7 - Social media within sales management - for identifying B2B prospects

I have highlighted the most widely used tools in each category with an asterisk.
2. Key distinguishing features of competitors in 2009
  • Scope and range of searching - number of sites, etc, real time or delayed
  • Sophistication of analysis tools, especially for language analysis; statistical or semantic
  • Flexibility of data presentation, quality of text/charts, dashboard fixed or user configured
  • Communication tools for issuing alerts, collaborative working, via email, text, IM
  • Integration with other applications, primarily web data tracking and CRM systems
  • Option or requirement for ‘human intervention’ by user and/or supplier
  • Charging model and implications for total cost of use
3. Upcoming competitive features in 2010 and beyond
  • Capability for image tracking, video, logo, photos etc
  • Integration with workflow, ERP systems, etc
  • Range of report formats, styles, configured as ‘products’
  • Chart and analysis integration - mapping, 3D, tag clouds, visualisation techniques, etc
  • Actionability -direct intervention in dialogue, development of advertising, web campaigns, etc
4. Notes on compilation
  • Twitter-only search and tracking tools have been excluded (eg Twendz, Twitratr)
  • Some suppliers include agency/consulting services as standard - eg Nielsen Buzz Metrics; Cymfony; Reputrace
  • Typical billing models include annual/monthly subscription, number of profiles tracked, volume of data collected, number of users

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