I'm always a bit hesitant when it comes to writing posts about social media tools.

However, on this occasion I think the tools / resources I'm about to walk you through MUST be part of a modern communicator's arsenal, if not today, then by the end of 2010.

For some of you, these might seem basic, for others, they might seem a little foreign, but no matter which camp you are in, they should be part of your daily routine...no excuses!!


AllTop

AllTop is an incredible resource. For those who know it, you'll agree that it truly is an online magazine rack for some of the best blogs going around.

The site is broken down by subject and gives you direct access to the topics / authors you are interested in.

PR Value: Not sure about which blogs are prominent in which sector? This is a great place to start.

Social Mention

This is a really compact and easy-to-use monitoring tool.

It may not be the most robust one in existence, but it can give you a pretty decent look at brand / subject mentions across blogs, microblogs, video sharing sites, social networks and much more.

PR Value: Provides a quick reference look at what's recently been said about your subject of interest.

Bing real-time Twitter search

This is a great way of seeing what's hot / trending at any particular time.

The beauty of this service is that it features real-time snippets of the most shared links in relation to the subject you are interested in. And, it all occurs in real-time.

PR Value: It allows you to get the source of popular discussions, allowing you to trace it's development.

Klout

Although it's dangerous to get too caught up in the 'influencer' debate, this tool is probably as close as you'll get to getting an idea of who is driving which conversations.

Not every single social media user has signed up to Klout so you may miss a few people, but chances are you'll get a decent picture of the scene you're interested in.

PR Value: This will allow you to identify some of the key conversation drivers in the areas you are interested in.

BackTweets

This is a really neat and easy-to-use tool.

Simply enter a URL into the search bar and it will provide you with a list with every tweet that has ever contained a link / reference to that website.

PR Value: If you are running a campaign and want to see how much traffic has been driven to the 'target' of your activity, type it in here and you'll get an idea of how much that site address is being shared.



Wordle

If you haven't heard of this one, I guarantee it'll become a favourite pretty quickly.

Wordle creates 'word clouds' based on the content of a blog / any site with an RSS feed (not sure what an RSS feed is, click here)

PR Value: Want to creatively present what a blog is all about? This does it for you in seconds. Especially useful if you want to get a quick overview about what a blogger writes / is passionate about.

Google Trends

Another great tool in gathering intelligence.

Google Trends will display the frequency in which a topic / subject is mentioned in chronological and country-by-country order.

PR Value: Planning on launching an activity? Run a quick search to see which time of year the world is talking about that subject the most.

BlogPulse

As far as blog specific search tools go, this one is right up there...and probably shades Google's Blog search in some areas. Very handy.

PR Value:  See who is writing about your brand or subject of interest in a flash.

Alexa

If you want to get a handle on the DNA of a website or Blog, this is a good place to start.

It will tell you how much traffic a site gets, where that traffic is coming from, whether it is gaining more traction etc

PR Value: Check how a site / blog you're looking after is going. Check on the competition. See where you need to focus more effort. Again, very handy.

SWiX

If you only use one tool a day, try and make it this one.

It is a really (really!) simple way of tracking activity across all of your social networks / platforms.

PR Value: At-a-glance intelligence, lovely.

As I said up top, tools are great if used in the right way.

And, the best tools are the ones which allow you to listen / observe, helping you gain a better understanding of the environment you're operating in.

If you're interested in some more sophisticated tools, drop me an email and I'll point you in the right direction.

And as always, thanks for supporting the COMMS corner.

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