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Free Social Media Spy Tools

How to gain a quick comparative snapshot and forecast your next campaign ROI

Social media monitoring and listening tools are key to understanding how your brand is resonating with your audience, but increasingly we want to know about our competitor's efforts. Maybe it's to sanity check post styles, or engagement levels. Sometimes it's to gain approvals for increased social budgets. Or maybe its for strategy development or presentations.

And yes, it is doable.

In terms of social media, understanding how you stack up against competitors is really handy and can assist in portioning your time and resources for marketing. But knowing exactly what you are after before the search will save you time. Some paid tools such as Semrush and Brand 24 have great comparative monitoring but these need to be set up and monitored over time.

If it’s competitor dollar spends in social media you're after, it will be hard to extract. How much is a social influencer contract worth? How valuable is a post made by a particular social influencer? While we’d all like to have access to this data, the digital space isn't that invasive yet. But a value score on the social influencer is, as is a value metric on individual posts they make in terms of views.

If it's a quick snapshot you're after, there are a couple of great tools around. And the better news is that some are free. Hootesuite which really is the leader in social listening and posting across networks, provides access to fantastic free resources on a regular basis including digital reports . If you aren't using them, or haven't visited their site before, you should.In the meantime, an overview of the better free comparative tools are below.

Fanpage Karma versus screen

Fanpage Karma versus screen

See who wins across a range of key metrics

See who wins across a range of key metrics

Fanpage Karma

Fanpage Karma has been around for a while and offers some great services including post analysis and fan insights, but it's also great for on-the-fly social media comparison.

Available under the ....More section of the top navigation in Fanpage Karma, this is a simple, quick and easy way to see how you compare in the Facebook world. It also shows you your strengths versus your competitors strengths. For better data analysis, log in using your facebook id but be ready to provide full details and agree to sign terms of agreement for data usage.

Great for those new to social media, likealyzer gives you a quick visual impact score without the need to log in or join, simply add your facebook page into the search panel. For free tips on how to improve your presence log in and access further detail. It also provides you with similar pages like yours so you can compare and grow by example.

As a competitive tool this site gives a simple visual reference to your competitors facebook environment and shows you their strengths and their weaknesses at a glance. Under the summary are headings with explanations of the scores and why/how you need to improve.

Brand 24

A great tool, and my favourite, this one needs you to log in either via facebook or an email address and allows you to access data on a company’s presence across facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, blogs, forums, news and general web articles. You can view all together or individually, by creating a project by client. Data is updated regularly and emailed to you. It even provides an influencer score for mentions.

What’s great about this tool? In short, the compare tool. By creating a project for each of the brands you want to view and track, there is a simple compare option. So if you’re client side you can compare a number of competitors or if you’re an agency you can compare a client against a competitor.

Of course there are paid extensions and the ability to export data in PDF, excel or create an infograph, but the ability to see how active someone is across all digital media formats for free is a great one.

One thing to note here - you get a free trial period so while you can sign up for free, you will be prompted to sign up to a plan.

Hootsuite ROI Calculator

Need to forecast return on investment from your campaigns? If you're not, you should be. Hootsuite have a great free tool to play around with to deliver the results you need.  Check it out . There's a great tool kit resource downloadable as well.

In summary, keeping an eye on competitor social media efforts is a great way to keep sharp in terms of your content relevance, activity and response to followers. It can give you the push you need to stay on top and assist with budgeting campaign time and resources. These tools are also a great way to sanity check you are driving the right responses for the investment.

Remember: If you're not driving the responses you need, do a social audit.  Review what social tools you're using and rationalise if needed.

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