PRNewswire Enters Social Media Monitoring Space

by Jason Falls |
Jason Falls
Jason Falls

The social media monitoring space keeps getting more and more crowded as early startup success stories like Radian6 and K.D. Paine and Partners have been joined by both newcomer startups and established PR-related companies who have broadened their offerings. The latest to throw its hat into the ring is PRNewswire with its Social Media Metrics tool set. Like the other monitoring services, the product promises to allow you to listen to conversations about your organization, target the most influential social media sources for outreach, engage and analyze the buzz and ultimately report it all in a neat package for the executives.

I took a test drive of the new offering and have to say, it’s one of the better debuts I’ve seen in a while, rivaling Scout Labs, which I thought was impressive in its bar-raising splash back in February. PRNewswire has taken the best ideas from the other services, including a bit of the work flow management piece that sets Radian6 apart, and built a nice tool at a competitive price point.

According to Annette Falvo, the product demo specialist I met with, the tool looks at 20 million “active” blogs and weeds out those that haven’t been updated recently. The indexing includes about five million forums, publicly available sections of MySpace and Facebook, Twitter and 30,000 online news sites. In essence, it covers the same general stuff everyone else does.

The reports and tools are generally the same as well, with the requisite pretty charts and graphs for the C-level folks who tend to not care or understand the different between a visit and a pageview. It does include automated sentiment and tone scoring at what they claim is an 80% accuracy level. And like other tools, you can manually change a sentiment score should you feel the natural language processors didn’t quite get the gist of the post.

The differentiators seem to be a version of the work flow management tool that Radian6 has that most others don’t. But PRNewswire’s version does not track a conversation history between you and the respective media members or bloggers you’ve reached out to. Radian6’s tool does and a new offering from BuzzStream actually offers that type of contact management system which could be useful when used along side other monitoring tools.

PRNewswire’s offering does include a “Top Mentions” display which shows meme-type activity around a given story or topic that I found intriguing. Think of it as the ability to track syndication of releases or spin-offs of influential blogger posts that get picked up by others. It also has the ability to see sentiment scores broken down day-by-day; regional demographics; gender differentiation so long as the source provides that information (pretty useful to see how women react to your brand as opposed to men); age filters and comparison tracking of keywords and sentiment around the keywords, a multiplier I haven’t quite seen yet.

The reporting functionality allows you to select the specific charts you want to use for a specific search term and date range, add notes to said charts like captions, then complies them all into a nifty PDF for distribution or publishing.

Like most other monitoring services, it has email alerts, but PRNewswire allows you to break those down by sentiment so you only get emailed the bad if that’s all you want. The service is set up to monitor several different languages already, a feature that is often an afterthought and in subsequent versions of other monitoring packages.

Perhaps the most convenient feature of PRNewswire’s offering: You can manually add a website for the tool to index if it’s not showing up in your results without having to call customer service or get technical support. You can also block an entire website from the dashboard to eliminate results from your own site or other communities not relevant to your metrics.

The pricing model for PRNewswire’s product is set around number of users and search strings. One user with up to three search strings runs $450 per month with a price break for annual commitments. Prices escalate from there. The only real problem I see with the pricing is that you would have to add search strings, thus cost, to do a good job of monitoring your competitors, assuming you have more than two.

Overall, it’s a very useful tool with some neat features. It’s not as powerful as Radian6, priced higher than Scout Labs, which delivers almost as much value for more than a few dollars less, but certainly offers enough pieces of what everyone else has to be a legitimate contender for some marketshare in the space.

Learn more about the Social Media Monitoring offering from PRNewswire from their social media release found here. You can also see the previous social media monitoring and measurement tools we’ve discussed and reviewed here on Social Media Explorer:

If you’ve used it, jump in the comments and let us know what you like and dislike. If you haven’t, then send me a message on Twitter with your guess as to which competitor jumps in the comments to “join the conversation” about their product first. Heh.

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About the Author

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).