The market for social media marketing tools includes the dominant leaders, such as Google Insights, HootSuite and Radian6, as well as niche services that have small but loyal users, such as Pipes, Trackur, Viral Heat ... well, you get the idea. It's a crowded field, and new tools are being introduced regularly.
Here are a few that may be worth a look as alternatives to help monitor particular channels and manage certain tasks.
• Crowdtap. Introduced this spring, Crowdtap is a social marketing platform that allows marketers to engage targeted customers and tap into their enthusiasm for real-time idea generation. The platform uses content, such as market research and even parties and gift cards, to encourage this type of engagement.
You might think of Crowdtap as a marketing-themed social game that allows participants to gain status, not unlike Foursquare, and earn rewards and offers. The platform also analyzes participants' Facebook pages to determine possible interest in other marketing programs.
• InboxQ. Twitter is an intriguing tool, but many businesses are still trying to figure out how to use it to communicate with customers. InboxQ is a new service that streams Twitter-posted questions about a company or brand to the marketing or customer service department.
InboxQ performs searches for questions on Twitter by keyword and other factors. Businesses thus can receive a stream of questions being asked, in real time, on specific criteria, then engage with the puzzled parties directly via Twitter. If the marketer doesn't know the answer, a “Share” feature sends the question to other Twitter users for follow-up.
• EngageSciences. Another startup, EngageSciences focuses on “social nurturing.” Rather than just mining for “likes” or fans, the EngageSciences platform collects everything being said about a company, product or brand into a single stream, which then can be streamed into multiple advertising display units on a company's own or other sites, as well as Twitter and Facebook.
Imagine gathering all the kudos, great customer quotes and recommendations into one place for savvy distribution. For b2b companies, the platform also allows for the downloading of white papers, webinar promotion and newsletter registrations.
• Social Media Monitor. A product of voice-of-the-customer company OpinionLab, Social Media Monitor helps capture and analyze consumers' social media conversations, using the same technology that offers feedback on website behaviors.
An interesting wrinkle is the depth of its research capabilities. Social Media Monitor is based on a proprietary “warehouse” of more than 9 billion social media mentions, blog entries, tweets, posts and conversations, providing an historical view of consumer conversations. Consider it a sort of super customer forum of interests and preferences. Tools automatically analyze and report on sentiment scoring in 16 languages.
• BitDefender safego. This Facebook App helps keep computers safe by guarding employees' Facebook accounts. Why a safety feature for social media? Because unfettered social exchanges can be subject to phishing schemes and malware just as readily as email or other Internet interactions.
Safego offers automatic scanning, to give users a snapshot of their Facebook security status, and users are warned when they should modify their Facebook privacy settings so personal information isn't exposed. There's also a feature that enables users to warn their friends about infected links in their Facebook accounts.