11 (mostly) free social media tools to try in 2011

This PR pro tested a host of new social media tools and created a list of the ones he plans to use next year. Best part—they’re all free or offer a free version.

It’s hard to keep up with all the tools available to help maximize Twitter and other social media platforms. But, over the last few months I’ve been testing some of the new ones to get a feel for the ones that have the potential to be the most useful.

Here are the ones I’ll probably use more next year. Most of them are free to use or have adopted the “freemium” model.

1. Twoolr – complete Twitter statistics

If you are familiar with TweetStats.com you’ll think that this is similar, but Twoolr provides some additional metrics and insights that TweetStats doesn’t.

Twoolr will tell you how your account is being used, when you are most active, what you are tweeting about and which links you are sharing most frequently.

Best bit: The network tab tells you who you are communicating with the most and in what context i.e. @ replies, RT’s and #FF’s.

2. Mention Map – conversation visualization tool
I think PR people will really like this one.

MentionMap provides a live analysis of what a particular person is talking about on Twitter and who they are talking to. When you take a look at a blogger or journalist’s MentionMap you can get a clear idea of what they have been tweeting about of late.

Best bit: Its physical output allows you to get a feel for that person at a glance as opposed to reading a bunch of bland raw data.

3. The Archivist – tweet library and analysis

The Archivist does what it says, but also provides some useful insights and data visualizations around the Twitter activity for a specific subject / search term.

Hashtag analysis is really handy with this tool, especially if you want to keep a running tab on how many mentions it is getting over a period of time.

You can also download all the data in an excel file and use as you wish.

Best bit: The data dashboard is really handy, giving you information like the most used associated words and weekly frequency mapping.

4. Qwerly – people search for the social Web

This was launched recently and has been billed as the best people searching tool yet if you want to get a feel of someone’s social media presence.

It is also handy as a reference guide for your own contacts. It lists the contact details you have for everyone you follow and the networks they use.

Best bit: The most popular users feature is pretty cool, showing who has been searched for the most.

5. Hash Tracking – hashtag tracking and analytics

I immediately liked the quantifiable value this tool represents.

While most Twitter tools profiled here are free (or adopt a freemium model), this one is priced in a way that makes it an easy sell internally if you did need to obtain deeper results. You can try Hash Tracking out now but you’ll have to wait a bit until the paid options go live.

Best bit: I assume the best bit will be the reporting, especially as it can feature 100,000 tweets associated with the hashtag in question.

6. TLists – Twitter List search engine

This allows you to search public twitter lists by keyword or topic, bringing up the most relevant results.

The associated stats TLists provide are great, giving you an idea for how frequent each list pushes tweets outs and what sub-topics they mention.

Best bit: It is really simple to use.

7. TouchGraph – visualize the connections between related websites

This will give you a picture of the sites connected to you, your brand and your website giving you a visual representation of what a Google search for that term might look like.

This is useful if you want to get a picture of where else you are being mentioned outside your “owned” Web properties.

Best bit: The Facebook specific search option does the same job for you and your friends and who has the most photos together which is pretty nifty.

8. FeedLooks – Google reader on steroids

It is always hard to imagine anyone out-Googling Google, and while I don’t think this will get anywhere near achieving this, FeedLooks functionality will probably be borrowed by Google at some point.

The interface is clean, items are sorted into “old” and “new” as opposed to “read” and “unread,” and Twitter feeds can be integrated into the dashboard too.

Best bit: A rating next to each post gives an indication of its popularity/hotness, helping you browse and identify content more efficiently.

9. Address Book One – bringing all your contacts together

The amount of ways you can communicate with your contacts only gets bigger, and consequently more difficult to manage.

This tool is worth a look if you want to centrally manage all of your contacts across all the platforms they are involved in. It will import address books from Facebook, LinkedIn, etc., and arrange them on a snazzy dashboard.

Best bit: I’ve only just started using this, but the search option seems especially useful if you need to track down someone’s contact details.

10. StatPlanet – the infographic creator’s best friend

Want to create maps and graphs? Then this is well worth a look. The best explanation of how this works is via the demo video and these examples help tell the story more.

Best bit: The interactive graphs breathe life into what would normally be static slides.

11. Citrify – Web-based photo editing

This is a great tool for bloggers who need to adjust images for posts. It is also incredibly simple to use and comes without the hefty price associated with Photoshop.

Best bit: The wrinkle removal feature is a godsend.

Have you spotted any other tools that you think might be handy in 2011?

Adam Vincenzini is a senior consultant at Paratus Communications in London, where he is increasingly mixing traditional and digital PR for the agency’s clients. He also blogs at commscorner.com.

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