The 3 Types of Social Media Monitoring Tools

I often get asked which social media monitoring tools I would recommend for particular businesses. Picking a solution isn’t easy and I would recommend going through an in-depth review of your requirements before spending any money. That said, I often suggest to clients that there are three types of monitoring solution on the market, and although they all cross over in different ways, it’s a useful starting point.

Research & Data Monitoring Tools

Some of the best social media monitoring tools are focused on providing data for research and planning. They enable you to capture huge amounts of (often very) reliable data to monitor and review industry trends. These tools tend to be less feature-rich than some of the more mainstream tools, but boast more reliable data, more sources and a longer retained history. Examples include: Nielsen Buzzmetrics, Linkfluence and Brandwatch.

Monitoring & Reporting Tools

Many of the most popular monitoring tools are focused on real-time monitoring, primarily for PR or marketing purposes, so they tend to offer more user-friendly features for tracking conversations and producing reports. Many are also starting to offer customer engagement and social CRM features.  The downside is, they often don’t retain a long history of data and are sometimes criticised for their data quality and range of sources. Examples include Radian6, Meltwater Buzz and Synthesio.

Monitoring & Engagement Tools

Some monitoring tools are primarily focused on engagement – i.e. enabling your Community Manager, PR Execs or Customer Services team to listen and respond to social media issues in real-time. With an emphasis on the dashboard and team-working features, these solutions don’t offer the range of sources or quality of data as Research or Reporting tools, but they do provide a user-friendly way of engaging on the leading networks, typically Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and YouTube. Examples include: HootSuite, MarketMeSuite and Conversocial.

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  • 40deuce

    This is a great breakdown of three different approaches to social media monitoring and analytics tools. I’m really proud to say that after reading the breakdown for each category I can say that through Sysomos’ two different platforms, MAP and Heartbeat, we have all three categories covered!
    We have a wide variety of customers who use us for all three things you have listed. Agencies tend to favour our MAP tool for research as it’s able to capture large amounts of data going back at least two years. We then have clients that use our Heartbeat software for everyday monitoring and engagement as well as reporting on a smaller and more focused scale.
    Reading this article made me happy to know that we’re set up to handle most people’s needs for social media monitoring and analytic tools. Thanks for posting this.

    Sheldon, community manager for Sysomos (

  • Dominick Soar

    Thanks for including us in the Research & Data Monitoring section!

    I think the way you can divide up the services out there will keep changing as the market fluctuates, and I’d say currently the first two aren’t always so easy to separate.

    Providers become a lot better at things when they specialise in certain areas rather than trying to cover everything. However tempting it is to try and answer every client demand, it takes a lot to master any one of these three categories and spreading focus over them all can seriously risk diluting what your speciality was in the first place.

    Just my thoughts anyway!



  • Luke Brynley-Jones

    Thanks Dominick. I’ve been enjoying your recent blog post – so nice to see you here. 

    It’s definitely getting harder to draw lines between “types” of monitoring services, but I do find it helps explain the landscape to clients. Brandwatch’s history as a Government-backed project, for example, resulted in the kind of data rigour that large companies desire. You’ve had to work hard on the UI though.

  • Luke Brynley-Jones

    Hi Sheldon. Yes, a lot of the leading companies cover many of the bases now, but I still find different vendors have specific USPs that are often connected to the visions of the founders. For example, I’m sure Nick’s vision is still impacting on Sysomos’ direction.

  • Jessica Butcher

    Great list! I notice Visible Technologies isn’t included here. If you’d like to sign up to request a free demo you can do so here We’d love to know what you think!

  • Luke Brynley-Jones

    Hi Jessica – I’ve used Visible in the past. I’d put it in the first of my categories (with the caveats mentioned below). 

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