3 affordable tools for tracking Twitter hashtags

For individuals or brand reps, these platforms afford users an array of ways to monitor and join in online conversations.

Judging by the outcry over Tweetchat’s having to close due to Twitter’s API restructuring—and by the interest shown in replacement platforms—it’s fair to say that Twitter chats continue to be popular for Twitter users and brands alike.

The ease with which topics and conversations can be filtered by Twitter hashtags enforces the idea that Twitter chats can be a great way to solicit feedback, user experience, crowdsourcing, and more.

To make that process even more effective, here are three hashtag trackers that don’t require taking out a second mortgage to use.

1. Tagboard

I came across this first platform just last week; it’s called Tagboard.

Working out of Redmond, Wash., Tagboard enables you to view hashtags across multiple networks. They support Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, App.net, Vine, and Google+.

You can track popular hashtags across these platforms, or you can create your own to monitor. Below is one I created around the Influence Marketing book hashtag.

You can either view all conversations across the platforms featuring your hashtag, or use the top navigation to filter the channel(s) you wish to concentrate on.

If you want to join the conversation, you can reply directly on Twitter via the Tagboard panel—or click the comment/reply option for Google+ and Facebook—and you’ll be taken directly to the discussion on that platform.

Tagboard offers an uncluttered snapshot of who’s talking about what, and on what platform, when it comes to your chosen topic.

Pros: Free to use (currently); clean; offers the ability to upload your logo for personalization; multiple channels.

Cons: Limited customization; no analytics; no embed feature; no live-stream option. (Note: These are available to users who contact Tagboard and ask that these features be turned on, with the price to be determined.)

2. Keyhole

Next up is Keyhole, from Waterloo, Ontario, in the technology heart of Canada.

The pet project of technology whiz kids Saif Ajani and Minaz Abdulla, Keyhole was created as a personal solution to the difficulty in trying to track Twitter conversations. That solution became Keyhole and is used by several brands today.

Keyhole goes a bit deeper than standard impressions and reach. Instead, you can find out more about your demographics and where your audience is sharing the conversation.

In the image above, for example, you can see a conversation around car manufacturer Audi. As well as the numbers around tweets, users, reach, and impressions, you can see who had the most retweets, what their Klout score is, and top recent tweets around the topic.

When you set up a hashtag to track, you gain access to even more information.

Other useful data include:

  • The Top Sites section enables you to see what domains were mentioned using that hashtag, and what tweets sent traffic there;
  • Share of Voice shows which vehicle is being spoken about the most;
  • Most Influential informs who gets the most retweets, who has the biggest Klout score, and who talks about the brand the most.

Add in Location, Demographics, Topics based on Hashtags or Keywords, and Top Sources for tweets, and Keyhole offers a fairly sturdy platform for solo users and brands alike.

Pros: Lots of useful data; clean layout; three monthly pricing models (from $14 up to $99); downloadable reports; embed options.

Cons: Only for Twitter; no way to respond to a tweet from inline.

3. oneQube SmartStream

Located in New York and built by Internet Media Labs, oneQube and its SmartStream product offer a host of solutions for anyone looking to dig deep into Twitter chats and their hashtags.

Although oneQube offers more than just SmartStream, it’s that part of the oneQube suite that offers the most potential for hashtag users and trackers.

By setting a hashtag, you can not only track it, but you can also use the oneQube dashboard as a social dashboard, along the lines of Tweetgrid and Hootsuite. This enables you to take part in a conversation you’re tracking without the need for multiple dashboards.

That’s just bread-and-butter stuff; the real meat comes from the hashtag-specific data you can glean from SmartStream.

As with Keyhole, you can see the most engaged, the most retweets, and the most influential users around a topic. However, where SmartStream really gets interesting is with the extra data it provides around that basic information.

If you look to the right of the image above, you can see a section called Secondary Hashtag Conversations. This enables you to see topics that could be related to the core one you’re discussing, offering an opportunity for brands and Twitter chat moderators to reach a wider audience.

SmartStream also offers a handy hashtag map that lets you see how closely tied these other conversations are to yours—the larger the circle, the bigger the relevance and opportunity.

On top of that, you also have access to detailed information around not only the standard demographics of your hashtag participants, but additional data points such as the type of profile (Business, Individual, Commercial, etc.), as well as topics trending around that discussion.

This kind of information is useful for brands, obviously, but it also enables Twitter chat moderators to provide details about the type of people their chat attracts, which can help them find sponsors to work with. You can find a detailed guide to SmartStream here.

Pros: Currently free in beta mode; detailed analytics; hashtag map for connected topics; integrated social dashboard.

Cons: Currently suffering from bugs (the SmartStream fails to load); no threaded conversations option on the dashboard; Twitter only.

Your turn …

These are just three platforms that have caught my eye. Each has its pros and cons, which I’ve shared here. It must be noted that beta products tend to suffer their share of bugs, so keep that in mind when coming up against any glitches.

How about you—what tools do you use for hashtag tracking and Twitter chats, and why those?

A version of this article first appeared on Danny Brown’s blog. (Image via)

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