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Social Media Monitoring tool helps businesses track who's winning on Facebook in 2011

By Guest Blogger, Donna DeClemente, Donna's Promo Talk

As we begin the first working week of 2011 we all have a tendency to look back on what we have accomplished during the past year, what were the top stories in the media and what we hope and predict the new year will bring.

Time Facebook's Mark Zuckerberg Person of the Year 2010 was definitely the year of Facebook. The social network dominated the media towards the end of the year. Facebook's CEO Mark Zuckerberg was named Time Magazine's 2010 Person of the Year which has spurred some controversy. This announcement came out just shortly after 60 minutes interviewed him and gave Facebook a great amount of publicity as the company announced it's new profile updates. Plus, the movie The Social Network was released which is based on Facebook and it's founder, and has now gone on to receive six Golden Globe nominations including one for Best Picture of the Year.

So what does this mean for 2011? This recent article is interesting: Does Facebook need to build it's own Search Engine? The media has started to define Facebook as it's own Internet. That is a really pretty scary statement. One of the first big news stories reported so far for 2011 is that Goldman Sachs and other investors infused the company with $500 million. So the big question of the year is if and when will they file for their IPO?

As an independent marketing consultant I find it imperative to try and keep up on the latest new tools and products that Facebook releases along with updates to Facebook's promotional guidelines. That has been no easy task and staying current during 2011 I assume will continue to be a challenge.

Social_Sweeps_Logo_WebOne new application I started using during the past year has been Wildfire which is a social media platform that allows businesses to run promotions such as sweepstakes and contests on their Facebook page. It also can integrate Twitter and link to websites and blogs. I have specifically written and spoken at conferences about the Wildfire Application and what I call Social SweepsTM  marketing, the combination of social media and promotional marketing. For 2011 I have become a Preferred Partner of Wildfire which means I can offer my clients creative and cost-effective ways they can promote their businesses on social media utilizing the application.

Facebook_small.thumbnail So what should us marketers and business owners be doing with Facebook in 2011? There's no doubt we should be paying big attention to it along with what our competitors are doing on the social network. To help us do that Wildfire just released this new, free tool to help keep us up to date on how a business compares to their competition on Facebook. It's called the Social Media Monitor and in a nutshell it's like Compete.com but for social media not websites.

The Social Media Monitor enables companies to evaluate their performance on Facebook and Twitter and compare it against competitors (or any companies, brands, or products of interest). Users can sign up for weekly email updates to easily keep track of performance trends over time for the social objects they've compared. Currently users can evaluate performance in terms of fan and follower growth but coming very soon they say they'll also enable comparisons of Places check-ins and overall fan & follower engagement.

The initial release of the Social Media Monitor is intended to make finding and comparing social properties as easy as possible, so the interface includes features like auto-suggest, providing instant suggestions of pages and accounts as soon as users start typing. Weekly email alerts enable users stay on top of what's happening after they’ve created a comparison. The Monitor is also equipped with a host of sharing features: users can email a link to the comparison, Like it on Facebook, Tweet about it, or even embed the growth chart on a blog or website. Existing comparisons can be quickly edited to create new, custom ones.

Social-Media-Monitor
The image above shows an example Wildfire shared when they the used the Social Media Monitor to highlight trends within the U.S. retail market, between Walmart and Target. According to these statistics Target overtook its larger competitor, Walmart, in terms of captive Facebook audience this summer. This chart shows that Target has been able to extend its lead with a particularly strong run-up around Black Friday and the holiday shopping season by over 600,000 fans.

The monitor doesn't have to be used just for business either. Interesting findings can be uncovered in all sorts of domains. For instance, here's a comparison that was done for the College Football Bowl season that looked at how the Top 5 BCS-ranked teams were doing in the social space: Auburn vs Oregon vs TCU vs Stanford vs Wisconsin. If you take a look at the chart the Monitor created if shows the Badgers were #1 when it came to Facebook fans, but Oregon was on their trail, doubling their fan count in the last two months!

I have already shared this monitor with a current client that I was managing a Social Sweeps promotion for during the month of December. I compared her Facebook page to that of three of her competitors. She was amazed with the analytics and extremely grateful that I shared this information with her and has subscribed to the weekly updates. This should enable us to help refine her social media marketing goals throughout 2011 and therefore be able to recommend specific strategies.

I recommend you take a look and try out the tool. It's free, it's easy to use and it provides some great competitive information. It also should remind you that no mater what you do on social media, it's not a secret and your competitors can see it as well. Remember, transparency is the norm in this new decade.

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