There are many reasons to search social media including monitoring for brand and reputation management purposes. Smart online marketers have also been using social search for other reasons including competitive research and opportunistic content marketing through social keyword trends.
Most advice on how companies should be listening to the social web with minimal cost involves monitoring individual services, which is inefficient. Premium social media monitoring services do this much more effectively but can be expensive. Here are 6 free social search tools that may help small businesses make their initial foray into searching the social web more productive while keeping costs to a minimum.
Delver is a “socially connected” search tool in alpha, that is based on your friends influence on content, i.e. drawing upon the “wisdom of crowds” to filter the universe of search content. You first identify your social profiles and can then add more specific information to then identify your own social graph. Facebook is emphasized. Search results are then influenced by your network. If Google ever buys Facebook then this service might be an attractive target.
WhosTalkin? not to be confused with “Who U Stalkin”, is a social media search tool by Joe Hall that allows users to search for conversations around topics of interest. Queries are performed against all sources but you can search on specific social services organized by: Blogs, News, Networks, Videos, Images, Forums and Tags. The list of practicing SEOs that beta tested this tool includes some genuine smarties so this one may be worth watching since saved searches, RSS feeds and other features found in the tools below are not yet rolled out.
Samepoint is a social conversation search engine that segments search by: Social Mentions, Discussion Points, Bookmarks, Wikis, Network,s B2B Networks, Groups, Life Casting, MicroBlogs, Reviews, Podcasts, Documents, Video, Images, News and Web or all. Each search result extracts sentinment and keywords as well. In fact, there’s a trending social search term page which I think is very interesting. The Discussion Points feature is interesting because it shows the most commented content in the search results according to your query and the number of sources.
socialmention allows you to search a term on specific categories of the social web including: Blogs, Microblogs, Bookmarks, Comments, Events, Images, News, Video or All. There’s also a Social Rank score based on the number of mentions every 4 weeks and you can subscribe to search results via RSS.
Serph, from ACS, has been around for several years and searches on blog search engines, social news and bookmarking websites such as Bloglines, Digg, Google Blog Search, YouTube, Topix, Sphere, Yahoo Answers, Flickr and Delicious. Serph is a bit slow but can be useful to cross check queries with other services and you can subscribe to search results via RSS.
OneRiot is a bit like Delver in that it uses your social network to influence the search universe for your query but takes heavy consideration of what’s currently popular within your network when sorting search results. Topics that are “emerging” or “surging” are indicated as such in the search results. OneRiot is alpha at the moment, but has promise.
Nearly all social media monitoring tools are keyword based and use some kind of crawler or data aggregator to harvest information and then various schemes to organize and sort as search results or monitoring reports. Each social search tool has unique features, whether it’s crawling the social web at large or filtering by your network. One or more of the 6 tools above might be right for you to start tracking conversations about your company, brands and even your competition.
From a marketing standpoint, social search tools like those above create additional content and marketing opportunity discovery options for real-time situations, that most standard search engines can’t compete with.
There have been numerous efforts made with tools like Custom Google Search Engines, Yahoo Pipes and home grown programming to create low cost or free social search tools, but what other free tools have you found to be effective at searching multiple sources of social content on the web?