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Social marketing gems: Tools to make sense of chaos

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The health of social media marketing is underscored by the number of startups offering handy tools to monitor, manage, promote and respond to social media activity. Here are a handful you may have missed:
  • Amplicate. Sentiment analysis tracks online opinions and (among other things) provides a sense of what's hot and what's not. Amplicate does that in a simple way with social comments, collecting customer opinions posted on social sites, analyzing and comparing them, and determining what's “loved” and what's “hated.” You can search by company, product or category. Amplicate works best when there's lot of opinion out there. For example, in the category of networking vendors, with more than 4,800 opinions logged, the most loved companies over the past 30 days, in order, were IBM Corp., Cisco Systems and Hewlett-Packard Co., while the most hated were AT&T Inc., followed by Microsoft Corp. and (weirdly) Cisco's Linksys. However, in the less-followed category of networked attached storage, with just 28 tracked opinions, Netgear is both the most loved and the most hated vendor. With this caveat in mind, and observing the actual comments box, Amplicate may be useful as a rough analysis tool for b-to-b buyers.
  • Awareness. Social campaign management isn't easy. Otherwise, as the saying goes, everybody would do it. The Awareness Social Marketing Hub helps, with its new Facebook Campaign Manager tool, which offers a set of templates for such frequently used promotional elements as welcome tabs, coupon offerings and YouTube channel integration. The Hub goes beyond Facebook. It also provides reports that consolidate the performance of content posted by various departments on different sites, as well as offering control of campaigns on Facebook, Flickr, Foursquare, Twitter, YouTube and Wordpress. Awareness' services and products are at the upper end of this “gems” lineup, and is priced beginning at $500. While this brief features list is far from a review, the company's various products may be worth a peek.
  • CrowdBooster. You're active on Facebook and Twitter, and regularly post new content. But how do you know how that content is doing out there, which messages are being shared, what time of day they're most popular and other factors that help gauge social performance? Take a look at CrowdBooster, which tracks the tweets that have performed best for you, the social influencers who are following you (and with whom you may want to engage) and those who have retweeted you. CrowdBooster also can track the times of day you're getting the best response. You can schedule automatic tweet postings using Buffer, another cool tool. (A tip of the hat to Kimberly Castleberry, whose Just Ask Kim marketing blog first alerted me to CrowdBooster.)
  • InboxQ. You want to be more active on Twitter, but you're unsure of whom to follow based on your business interests. Following everyone, even heavy influencers, can be unwieldy. Besides, your own needs may change and you may want to refine whom you follow based on that. Enter InboxQ, which profiles Twitter users for their expertise in various knowledge areas, and stores that information on its site. Say you want to follow and know more from experts on paid search advertising. In a manner similar to search engine Ask.com, users can enter a question in InboxQ—for example, “Who's expert on pay-per-click advertising?”—and the service will list Twitter users who appear to be strong PPC people. (Presumably this also works if you just want to know about hotels in San Francisco or the best recipe for a mojito cocktail.) InboxQ also serves as a self-promotional tool. Twitter users can “claim” their InboxQ page to customize the content that others see. Christopher Hosford is east coast bureau chief at BtoB. He can be reached at chosford@crain.com.
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