Any business owner or marketing executive knows that a business can be made or broken today by rumors, news and attacks made through social media. Social media monitoring tools can track online conversations taking place online through social media outlets such as Twitter or Friendfeed, but each monitoring tool is different. The following top 25 social monitoring tools are all different, and they may all be worth trying to see what fits your needs.

The following list is in alphabetical order. While some tools are free to use, others may offer a free trial period and then a fee for usage. The latter group is marked by a dollar sign ($) after the description.

  1. Social NetworkAddict-o-matic: “Inhale the Web” by instantly creating a custom page with the latest buzz on any topic. Type in keywords and receive information as recorded by such entities as Bing News, Google Blog, Twitter Search, Friendfeed and many more. Good tool for an instant update for materials that date back several months.
  2. Alterian: The Alterian platform combines campaign management , Web content management, email and social media monitoring tools. Their Social Media Engagement Solutions can enable you to measure the impact of online conversations and become active and essential members of these communities. $
  3. Attensity: This company recently acquired Biz360, intensifying the social media monitoring with other tools that can help clients market brands across the Web. Automatically discover, listen, analyze, relate and act on Twitter, online communities, blogs or via more traditional support channels like email and call centers. $
  4. Attentio: The standard edition of this monitoring tool allows you to start analyzing the buzz around your brands or products, giving you access to visualize buzz trends, multi-language sentiment and event detection. In addition, you can analyze the information by source, topic, country and language. $
  5. Awareness Social Marketing Hub: This tool provides marketers with information to measure success and direct future marketing investment. One simple view provides activity across social marketing campaigns to show how a particular piece of content is consumed, shared, commented upon and ‘favorited.’ $
  6. BlogPulse Conversation Tracker: This tool provides a missing element to the blog world: a tool for assembling snapshots of Weblog “conversations.” It creates a threaded view of the conversation by performing a depth-first traversal of the conversation graph, starting from the seed post and visiting each node only once.
  7. BoardTracker: Sometimes the best resource for news is on boards. This Pidgin Technologies property is a forum search engine, message tracking and instant alerts system designed to provide relevant information quickly and efficiently while ensuring you never miss an important forum thread no matter where or when it is posted.
  8. Brandwatch: This tool began as a Web crawler for the UK government, and now is one of the world’s leading tools for monitoring and capturing social media. Their complex system gathers data, cleans it, analyzes it and presents it in a user interface and database. $
  9. Metcalfe's LawCollective Intellect: This company supplies an automated, real-time text mining and analytics software that provides rapid insight and enables quick and focused action. You can enable open-ended analysis by identifying key themes and terms to capture the “true voice” of your customers. $
  10. Copernic Tracker: This tool automatically looks for new content on Web pages, as often as you like. When a change is detected, their Web site tracking software can notify you by sending an email, including a copy of the Web page with the changes highlighted, or by displaying a desktop alert.
  11. DNA 13: Dna13′s MediaVantage solution delivers immediate and cost-effective results with real-time insight into your reputation, market trends and competitive activities. You gain access to unlimited on-demand searching and customization, and you can monitor print and television as well as social media and the Web. $
  12. Google Alerts: Monitor the Web, blogs, microblogs, images and video through a simple keyword or multiple keyword search. You can get results by email or through an RSS feed. You’ll be able to keep tabs on branding, competitors and news and receive comprehensive results (perhaps more than you need sometimes) for free.
  13. HotGrinds: HotGrinds allows users to uncover consumers’ emotional connection to brands and products, providing actionable feedback for improving reputation, refining product or marketing strategies, retaining loyal customers and identifying new opportunities. So, you learn what people are saying and also how they feel. $
  14. Lithium Social Media Monitoring: This system works in real-time and finds the best stuff from millions of social media sources. It also separates the signal from the noise, tells you what your social customers care about, gives you insight into their opinions, reveals where they congregate and tells you who’s the most passionate. $
  15. Page2RSS: This handy service helps you monitor Web sites that do not publish feeds. After you add a button to your brower’s bookmarks toolbar, you can check any web page for updates and deliver them to your favorite RSS reader. Page2RSS also can post page updates directly to your Twitter account.
  16. Pipes: This is a powerful composition tool that you can create to aggregate, manipulate and mashup content from around the Web. Simple commands allow users to geocode favorite feeds and browse items in an interactive map, as well as grab the output of any Pipes as RSS, JSON, KML and other formats.
  17. PostRank: This tool delivers objective, real-time data and analysis on any topic, trend or interest relevant to you and/or your business. They offer data services, analytics and a variety of free tools for publishers and online information consumers to discover the best blogs, news and articles by topic. Tools are free and $
  18. Radian6: Ridian6 scans 150M+ blogs, 90+ million Tweets, 25k+ online mainstream news sites, 420+ video and image sharing sites, hundreds of thousands of discussions boards, Facebook, Friendfeed, and LinkedIn Answer to get real-time, relevant results pushed right to your dashboard. $
  19. SocialMention: Get real-time social media search and analysis and receive free daily email alerts of your brand, company, CEO or marketing campaign. Results let you break down search results according to where your keyword or keywords are mentioned: blog posts, images, videos, news items and more.
  20. Spiral 16: Spiral16 monitors, measures and analyzes digital content, seeking the most relevant online information related to specific areas of interest for their clients. Use this tool to generate leads, close new business, monitor identity, increase customer loyalty, manage crises and customer service and more. $
  21. Sysomos Heartbeat: This is a cost-effective, real-time social media monitoring and measurement tool that provides constantly updated snapshots of online conversations, including a variety of user-friendly and informative graphics. Gain insight about the buzz and sentiment (positive, negative or neutral), and engage with key influencers. $
  22. Trackur: This tool now comes with a free version that allows one saved search, unlimited results. Trackur monitors mainstream media and social media such as blogs, social networks, images and video. New items are found in almost real-time. In fact, most new items are never more than 30 minutes old. Free and $
  23. Citizen mediaTrendrr: This is a top-rated B2B resource that was built to move past the current marketplace standard deploying best-in-class processing, visualization and business logic. Trendrr tracks all major data services: microblogs, blogs, news, search, commerce, video sites, social networks, location-based services and more. $
  24. Tribe Monitor: Track over 14 different data sources, with more added every week, for free. Use tools such as a geomap of followers, clear weekly, monthly and yearly stats and generate PDF reports. You need to sign up to be accepted for the private beta testing, but it seems like a social monitoring tool worth trying.
  25. Workstreamer: Workstreamer is for business professionals who realize that access to timely and relevant business information can create a competitive advantage. Collect data across the Web, analyze it for relevance and priority and receive updates as they happen or how you need them.

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