Posted by Dan at 01th January 2013

Tools To Measure And Visualise Digital Footprints

Here are some tools to capture and visualise digital activity. With some tips and thoughts around how to use them.

I’m often asked to research and analyse digital activity for business owners who want to know how:

  • their brand is perceived on the social web – Who’s saying what, where and why
  • to create a social media report framework
  • to benchmark against the competition. What’s working for them, what’s not … and more.

It’s AMAZING what you can find out with some VERY simple to use free tools. 

So I thought I’d share a selection. I’ve included tools that have a ‘freemium’ element, offering enough data to create reports at no cost. All you have to do is pull the relevant data into a visualised doc, give it context et voila you’re a digital genius.

I haven’t included:

  • Google Analytics or any inbuilt analytics from platforms such as Facebook, Youtube etc. Assume you know about these but drop me a line if you want to chat through.
  • The purely paid for analytics dashboards such as Brandwatch, Radian6, Sysomos, but they will certainly add value if you have the budget. However, with so much available for free if you know how, my sense is that these high value products are going to struggle (unless they diversify or niche).

The Platforms and Dashboards

Click on the logos to visit the sites and at the end of this article I’ve given a few ideas of how to consider and manage the data.

Alexa - Research ToolFree, global website metrics

Global Rank, Traffic Stats, Search Analytics, Audience Demographics, Contact Info, Reviews, Related Links, Clickstream, Traffic Rank, Reach %Pageviews, User Bounce, Country Stats, Time on Site… Everything web. Highlight: Audience Demographics – Age, gender, education level, has kids etc.

Compete Traffic RankKnow where you stand on the web

Detailed Traffic Data, Compare Sites, Paid vs. Organic Traffic, Paid Search Keywords, Demographics, Incoming Traffic Sources, Outgoing Traffic Destinations, Industry Category Traffic, Behavioral Category Traffic. Highlight: visualised rank against the competition.

How Sociable - Social Media MetricsMeasure social magnitude

Scores brand oomph on each social media platform out of a score of 10. Baby stuff but required often. Highlight: Gives you core platforms for free. Simple metrics to get a feel.

KKPI

Kred, Klout and Peer Index all measure social impact and score out of 100. Simply connect your social platforms and tadaaa. Highlight: Well more of a top tip. As with all digital measurement, it has to be taken with a small handful of salt. So add and average theses scores to get a wet finger in the air impact score.

Mentionmapp

Visual map of tweets and Hashtags

Love this little visualiser. A virtual twitter neural pathway mapper. Small, cute, interesting. Highlight: Ability to click into nodes to explore connections and conversations.

Traackr

Find online influencers

Want to know who rocks your industry? Find the top 5 in multiple categories for free. Small payment for the top 50. Highlight: Measures reach, resonance and relevance for each influencer with direct links to sources.

Visually

Create infographics and visualisation

Templated infographics so you can connect a Facebook Page and get the public data visualised beautifully in one click (Free and paid for templates). Highlight: Amount of templates in multiple formats. ‘Twitter vs.’ is nice touch.

Simply Measured

Charts, visualisations and data representation

Like visual.ly but with a slightly different and more detailed spin. Highlight: Tip really. Play with all the visualisers (more below) to see which one(s) fit your needs.

Duedil

Company financial and people data

This platform is Companies House meets the company’s bank. Exceptionally detailed data on all things financial and people. Highlight: Executed beautifully, which is p’raps unusual for such a dry topic.

Analyse WordsAnalyse Twitter threads into moods

Emotional, thinking and social style. It’s a little throw away this one but a nice guide when used with other sentiment metrics. Highlight: Social Style ‘Valley Girl’ – Hahaha

Followerwonk

Search, compare, analyse and follow Twitter users

Who are your followers? Where are they located? When do they tweet? Find and connect with new influencers in your niche. Use super-actionable visualisations to compare your social graph to others. Highlight: Search Twitter Bio key words for free.

Social Mention

Real time social media analysis

A great starter for 10 when looking for analytical tools to tell you haw a brand or person is perceived online. Highlight: Free sentiment, reach, strength and passion indicators.

These are just SOME of the tools available to give you a feel for what’s out there. More come online every day while others die. Digital operates in dog years ;)

I could have listed more but I’d be here all year. Like: Netvibes, Listorious, SocialScope, Storify StumbleUpon, Twylah, Addictomatic, Clipboard, Fanmix, PostPost, Piktochart, Scoop.it, EngageSciences, Eloqua, Jugnoo, Raven, Reputation.com, SocialBro, SocMetrics, awe.sm, Awedience, TweetBeep.com, Twitterfall, Thismoment, Tracx, Twendz, uberVU, WeFollow, EdgeRank Checker, Nimble… and on. Google at your peril, if a geek like me you’ll get sucked into the web FOREVER ;)

Thoughts, tips and how to’s

I have listed maybe a quarter of the tools I would use for any digital analysis work and I personally blend the paid for tools with free. There are also speciality tools for specific subjects if you’re a good Googler.

So you’ve got all this information at your finger tips, now what?

It obviously depends on what you want to get across and who the audience of the report is, but the core types of report I imagine you’ll be building will cover: social media monthly reports, digital benchmarking, competitor analysis, or brand/people profiling etc. Any others?

  • Keep reports simple and commercially relevant.
  • Its not just numbers. 1000s of followers or Likes means nothing without interaction, engagement and a subsequent action.
  • Visualise data, we eat with our eyes. Where you can’t get a graph or image directly from the platform or dashboard just drop the figures into Excel and chart it. There are also plenty of online tools:
  1. Vizify – Great if you have access to multiple social media accounts for the same brand
  2. iCharts – A little more grown up stuff
  3. Google Charts – Kind of ok for simple charts
  4. visual.ly – My favourite infographic creation tool. Free templates, super easy to use
  5. infogram – Sexy Excel style charts and infographics. Very nice, easy to use but limited
  • Most platforms have their own analytics i.e. Facebook, Youtube, Google etc. I haven’t listed those but assume if you’re using them, you already know!
  • If appraising your own company’s digital foorprint, track hard and soft objectives (Quant and qual) rated and silo’d against your vision, values and objectives to give the results context. Measure monthly.
  • When benchmarking against the competition. Ensure you use a level playing field and in the right contexts e.g. Only use platforms that don’t need the comp brand’s login (Unless you have them?!).
  • Aggregate feedback from similar tools, don’t rely on one. They can lie.
  • Track online back to ‘real world’ where possible. Connect with in-store activity, or a voucher, telephone number i.e. Contextually it’s commercial outcome you want to measure, not digital numbers.

A personal side

Social media will soon just be media. I really sense that it’s coming home, to be absorbed into the very fabric of business operations, int/ext messaging and sales. I hope so, as it’s a facilitator, a toolkit, not a function that should sit on its own. Then we can get rid of the plethora of expert ninjas like me, lean back into realistic expectations of what these amazing platforms can offer, dispelling empty promises.

Anyhoo… I hope this list at least gives you some idea of what data you can grab, where and what to do with it. If you need help, email me.

9 Comments

  1. Hi Dan,

    Great advice here, and this: “Social media will soon just be media” is very true!

    I have to disagree with you about enterprise tools though – although they are more expensive, they do offer a breadth of coverage and features that free tools just can’t deliver. That is not to say, of course, that there aren’t many, many great free tools out there and that for many people these will offer enough.

    I do, however, think that the monitoring market will change – it’s never stopped evolving, really, and is still a very young industry, so it will be interesting to see how things develop. As you say, new tools are cropping up all the time, as others die out.

    Interesting piece, thanks :)

    Jasmine
    Community Manager, Brandwatch

    1. Hi Jasmine. I use a blend of tools and agree that ‘paid for’ currently has a place. It’s merely a degree of relevance and context.

      2 quick points – there is so much data available for free that for many, the paid for tools are already redundant.
      My second concern is that there is little left to evolve technically in real terms. The efficiency and efficacy of these tools is already of such a high standard.

      These two points would raise warning flags for me if I was an investor ;) With little space to manoeuvre, cheap and simple products springing up everywhere and an already contested market place… Well…

      That said. I figure the next steps for the industry will be aggregation and niching. Then see what products fall out of that.

      Maybe I’ll eat my words…

      1. Thanks for your reply Dan.

        I agree that for many, free tools will provide enough.

        I have to disagree that there’s not much left to technically evolve, though I do think that the evolution will mean more aggregation and more ‘all round’ tools or, as you say, more niche ones. Although the tools are at a high standard, there is plenty more that can be added and improved upon, especially as the web continues to change (we at Brandwatch, of course, are continuously working on new things, as are our competitors).

        Over the past year or so there has been a clear division between the market leaders and the ‘lesser’ tools – many tools cropped up at the same time, and gradually some have moved ahead of the pack, whilst others have faded away.

        It will be interesting to see how it all pans out in the coming years, and to see what the different tools come up with. It’s an exciting time ;)

        1. I will debate this with you forever ;) Love this subject and kind of hope you’re right.

          I know this is a tough ask but what step evolution is left in the measurement of digital do you think? You’re on the inside track.

          I accept the refinement factor, and I’m sure they’ll be prettier and more accurate BUT in revolution terms, what’s left to measure?

  2. Hey Dan – Thanks for the uberVU shout out! You’ve pulled together a really solid list here, and I’ll definitely check out the tools you’ve suggested for creating infographics. If I can answer any questions about uberVU for you in the future, don’t hesitate to reach out.

    Best,
    Elisabeth, Community Manager at uberVU

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