Comparing social media monitoring tools

SDL is a popular choice among social media monitoring tools, but how do its competitors stack up?

Among paid-for social media monitoring technologies, SDL looms large. As companies plunge into social analytics to improve their marketing efforts, for many, SDL provides the perfect blend of features for the right price, with an integrated suite of full social media capabilities, campaign management and marketing analytics.

Built on the already extensive Alterian platform, SDL is out in front of quite a few competitors, many of which are nipping at its heels. So, how do these competitors measure up?

Hootsuite is the most well-known social media monitoring tool; it's a cross-industry tool and a platform for all kinds of businesses, from startups to enterprises. It has an advantage over SDL in its cloud platform (SDL makes desktop apps) and its software as a service deployment. But Hootsuite is limited to being a marketing and sales utility, where SDL is an all-department business tool.

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Social Mention is also well-known in the market, and has a broader in-house reach than HootSuite. Like SDL, it crosses intrabusiness boundaries in its offerings, rather than being limited to marketing and sales departments. It's a great tool for brand management in particular and offers an application programming interface (API), allowing programmatic interaction with the Social Mention site: Real-time results can be streamed from the site into in-house applications. One big drawback: It isn't particularly reliable; it drops offline. And its filters are not as sophisticated as those in other social media monitoring suites.

What about the popular Radian6? Like HootSuite, it has an advantage over SDL by living in the cloud; but as a Salesforce.com tool, it's geared to big businesses and doesn't match SDL's small business friendliness.

Attensity is good at everything SDL is not: It offers a wide range of content publishing features that SDL doesn't, is more easily customized than SDL and provides custom search streams. But it lacks the listening range of SDL (which includes video and image hosts and a growing online news domain), and almost all of SDL's powerful analytics features.

Finally, there's Crimson Hexagon, which many businesses may not have encountered. It's similar to SDL in its features: a desktop app, standalone with no cloud presence, cross-business capable and friendly to businesses of all sizes. Its strength is sentiment analysis, offering insight not just into positive and negative customer sentiment, but also into the drivers behind them.

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