By Jill Kurtz, Owner of Kurtz Digital Strategy

The best results on social media happen when your content is on target with the interests and current expectations of your target audience. It also helps to have your finger on the pulse of what is happening in your area of expertise.

You don’t have to become a research geek to get that kind of insight. Using one of the many social media monitoring tools available can keep you up-to-date with the latest. Just about every tool offers both free and paid versions. The right tool depends on your needs, so take a look at several before you make your selection.

Why You Should Add Social Media Monitoring

The social media tools available today have similar features. There are three key benefits that will save you time as you enhance your information gathering capabilities.

  • Monitor Conversations – Social media tools allow you to monitor conversations that involve your target audience, your field of expertise, and your competitors. You can designate words and phrases to follow and get a stream of relevant postings from one or more social media channels like Facebook and Twitter.
  • Schedule Posts – Most tools let you schedule you own routine communications. You can set up posts for a day, a week, or a month. This avoids having to break away from other work to make non-urgent posts.
  • Get Valuable Data – Social media tools all have some built in data that help you to get a snapshot of activity. Data can show you if there is an uptick in activity around one or more people or topics. It can show you who is most engaged in your community and what topics are trending.

Selecting the Right Social Media Monitoring Tool

There are many social media monitoring tools available. Most are internet based and do not require that you download any software. Some have mobile apps to make it easy to monitor from anywhere.

There is no one best tool for all needs. You need to try several to find the one that’s the best match for your goals.

Trying them out involves setting up an account. Try several to discover which tool or tools provides you with the best, most relevant information. You may find that some combination of tools provides the right mix for your needs.

The following tools have large user bases and are regarded to be among the best available.

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a free service provided by Google. You can enter any number of words or phrases to monitor. When there is relevant content anywhere on the web, Google will send you links to the email address you specify. You can set up to get notices as soon as content is found or in daily or weekly digests.


Hootsuite is a widely used platform that gives you a full range of tools. You can set up streams to monitor conversations, schedule your own posts, and generate reports to get an overview of data.

There are built in tools to tap into most major social media platforms plus an app directory to add integrations with other social media. Hootsuite also offers many training options to help users understand social media and get the most out of their tool.


Buffer is designed to allow you to schedule posts, track the performance of your content and manage all your social media accounts in one place. Buffer is highly regarded for its capacity to find relevant content across the internet.

You can schedule posts for all your social accounts and Buffer will publish them automatically, according to the posting schedule you put in place. Built in analytics make it easy to track interactions and posts.

Sprout Social

The Sprout Social “smart inbox” brings all your messages from all your profiles into a single, filterable stream. You can set up and track keywords, hashtags and locations on Twitter and Instagram. The dashboard shows real-time activity.

The tool also has full publishing features that let you draft, schedule, queue and post messages to Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn from one window. You can understand the impact of your content with post-level stats on clicks, reach and impressions and more in the built-in reporting.


Mention monitors blogs, news, forums and social media. It features real-time media monitoring, tools to find the people who are most engaged in your community and topics of focus and custom reporting.

Social Mention

Social Mention is a social media search and analysis platform that aggregates user generated content from across the internet into a single stream of information. Social Mention monitors more than 100 social media properties directly including Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Digg and Google

You track and measure what people are saying in real-time. There is an integrated social media search and analysis service. You can also set up daily alerts.

Set Up Monitoring Now  

Take time now to set up monitoring so you can stay ahead of the curve. Don’t wait until your competitor jumps on a trend you missed. Worse, don’t wait until you hear that someone has said something about you on social media that you know nothing about. With monitoring, you are poised to make the most of social networking.