Optimizing Social Media: Are paid tools or free ones best?

Collaboration – November 11, 2011


To keep up with current trends and be competitive, we have tested  several paid and free Social Media-related tools. Among the paid tools, we evaluated Netvibes, Awareness, Radian6, and Vocus  platforms.

    • Netvibes lets us monitor, understand and analyze the results. With this tool we can monitor blogs, Twitter and Facebook on a daily basis but not LinkedIn. This tool is especially interesting, but the number of mentions vs. Price ratio is quite high compared to the competition.
    • Awareness allows us to control our publications on social media, centralize our strategy, interact directly with people on Twitter, Facebook and blogs, as well as tracking our success across various communication channels. The main differentiator of this tool is that it is a SCRM, or a union between social media and CRM. «A CRM unites different tools and technologies to capture, process, and analyze information about clients and prospects, with the goal of retaining them by providing the best possible service.»[i] The small disadvantage is that we have not seen an analysis component of this tool.
    • Radian6 enables us to survey various Social Media platforms and analyze results. We took advantage of a 7-day free trial period. With Radian6, we can monitor posts on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, blogs, and several other media, and then analyze the results. This platform is particularly interesting because it allows us to monitore the most pertinent social media.
    • Vocus offers a social media module that will definitely evolve, since it is fairly recent. Fundamentally, Vocus is a powerful media relations tool.

On the other hand, while these tools are very powerful, you must work with keywords to get a good list of key influencers. That takes a lot of trial and error and adjustments. In other words, a lot of research needs to be done. Otherwise, during our tests with these tools, we used research methodologies we developed in-house.

Among the free tools, we tested the keyword search functions of Google Adwords, monitoring with Tweedeck from Twitter, and blogs analysis using Blogdigger, BlogPulse (Nielsen) and Technorati.

Paid platforms, just like the free tools, give us the possibility of measuring performance indicators (interaction rates, traffic on the brand name or product name, search trends, and time spent).

The main difference between the two types of tools is that, with the free ones, we are able to monitor each type of social media only one at a time. While with the paid platforms, we gain the possibility of having all the forms of social media on the same page and analyzed at the same time.  This provides a much more integrated approach with a single dashboard.

Given that the research and analysis of influencers is quite subjective, we believe that a paid platform provides greater validity and reliability to the results we obtain. On the other hand, these free tools allow us to search  our selected themes rigorously and fairly. In fact, we can easily determine if the key word used on Twitter is the same one used by our client. The work of the analyst therefore becomes all the more important.

[i] JL Thomas  ERP et progiciels de gestion intégrés, les Bases du SCM et du CRM, Edit Dunod , Paris 2002


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