Comprehensive social media (brand) monitoring & performance optimization can be a daunting task. Tools and technology change like the wind -- and new players come and go so quickly. To be effective, smart marketers should have a wide array of tools at their disposal -- tools that are not always exclusive to 'social media' tools per se.
For example, SlideShare is a hidden marketing jewel. Not only is it a wonderful social content sharing platform where savvy marketers can syndicate branded content, but it provides lots of free social statistics to justify your time & effort. Here's a link to a recent blog post, 8 Simple Reasons to Promote Your Brand On SlideShare, that explains some of the marketing benefits of using SlideShare.
Google is another wonderful source of free social data. From Google Analytics, Google Alerts, Google News, Google Trends, Google Adwords Keyword Tool, and Google Reader (links to each can be found in the list below).
Web analytics and common brand metrics don't really help you understand how you're doing against your business objectives. They're just numbers. A better indicator of web marketing success might be the use of key performance indicators (KPI's). These are specialized metrics that tell brands how they're performing against their business objectives and goals. Here is a link to a great article on the value of KPI's.
I have purposely not included the [thousands] of Twitter monitoring/mash-up tools even though they could technically be included in this list. The reason -- there are too many, and they are too specialized around a single social network. If you are looking for a list of known Twitter tools, try conducting a search on Bing or Google and I am sure you will find plenty.
That said, here's a list of 171 indispensable social media tools for your enjoyment! This list includes performance analytics tools, social search tools, news clipping services, demographic profiling services, brand optimization tools, social monitoring tools, and similar services. If I have left anything out (which I'm sure I have) please let me know and I will add it to my list).
Actionly - Monitoring & insights for Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, Youtube, Google Buzz, blogs, and news.
AlchemyAPI - Content analysis and meta-data annotation tools.
Alterian - Campaign management, web content management, email, and social media monitoring.
AMI Software - Internet monitoring, intelligence development & evidence based horizon scanning.
Amplified Analytics - Forecasting tools & predictive analytical models by quantifying qualitative information.
Arkovi - Social media archiving services.
Atomic Intelligence - Organizing web content through text indexing, unstructured text parsing, and machine learning.
Attensity - Listen to and analyze multi-channel customer conversations.
Attentio - Analyze buzz around brands or products + multi-language sentiment.
BlogPulse - Real-time view of the most popular topics that bloggers are writing about.
BrandsEye - Online reputation monitoring.
Brandtology - Sentiment analysis in 12 languages.
Brandwatch - Social media monitoring (reputation, sentiment & moderation).
BurrellesLuce - Media monitoring, press clipping services, and public relations software.
Businesswire - Press release distribution, clipping services, and online measurement (A Berkshire Hathaway company).
BuzzAnalytics - Internet buzz tracking in 20 languages + opinion research/polling.
BuzzDing - Online reputation management and social media monitoring.
Buzzient - Enterprise-class social media analytics.
BuzzLogic - Proprietary conversational analytics to optimize online advertising.
BuzzNumbers - Social media monitoring, reporting & engagement.
BuzzStream - Manage word-of-mouth marketing campaigns.
Chartbeat - Real-time monitoring of your online presence.
Chatmeter - Reputation monitoring & management.
Clarabridge - Text mining & analytics.
Clicky - Real-time web analytics.
ClearForest - Deriving meaning from unstructured information such as news, blogs, research reports & more.
Clixpy - Tracks everything your website users do.
Collective Intellect - Social media analytics.
ComMetric - Understand how influencers across all types of digital media are networked.
Comscore - Digital market intelligence and measurement.
Compete - Mine your online performance.
Conductor - Organic search visibility platform.
Converseon - Social media listening and consulting.
Conversition - Bridging the gap between social media and research.
Crazyegg - Build heatmaps and track clicks.
Crimson Hexagon - Social media monitoring & analysis.
CrowdControlHQ - Social media software and reporting.
CyberAlert - News monitoring & clipping, social media monitoring, PR measurement.
Cymfony - Market influence analytics.
Dialogix - Social media monitoring tool from Australia.
dna13 - Real-time reputation management and PR software.
ecairn - Social media tool for marketing agencies.
Echo Research - Reputation analysis, media measurement & research.
Eloqua - Integrated campaign management & social sharing.
Engagor - Social media listening tool.
Entrenza - Track your online presence & monitor brand perceptions.
Evolve24 - Enterprise listening platform.
Evri - Discover & follow trending stories.
Explosive Commerce - Social media management software.
Feng-gui - Attention analysis for websites and advertisements.
Flurry - Smartphone analytics.
Folowen - Find people & organization across social media.
GeeYee - Social media analysis service.
Google Adwords - Keyword research tool for online advertising.
Google Alerts - Automatically monitor selected keywords & receive email alerts.
Google Analytics - Free web analytics tool.
Google News - Automated news aggregator.
Google Reader - Atom and RSS feed reader / aggregator.
Google Trends - Insights into popular search patterns.
Heardable - Real-time contextual brand analytics (social, mobile, seo & more).
HotGrinds - Opinion mining.
HowSociable? - Brand visibility metrics.
ICUC Moderation - Social media & blog moderation services for brands.
iMente - Social media measurement (in Spanish).
Imooty - Media monitoring tool.
ImpactWatch - Media coverage dashboard.
Infegy - Enterprise socia media monitoring.
Infonic - Linguistic processing technology for analysing digital news coverage.
Infonitor - Internet trends & opinions (in German).
Integrasco - Manage online word of mouth.
Interwoven - Manage website content and visitor information.
Jamiq - Monitor social media across Asian languages and markets.
Janya - Multilingual semantic processing to harvest online insights.
Jodange - Indexes feelings and statements from traditional and social media.
KnowEm - Claim your brand name across the social media landscape.
Leximancer - Analytics technology for unstructured, qualitative, textual data.
Linkfluence - Social web insights (in French).
ListenLogic - Social market research & analytics.
Lithium - Social CRM.
Managing News - News and data aggregation engine.
Market Sentinel - Conversation & influence analysis.
Media Proof i-news - Media analysis & news monitoring.
MediaHound - Marketing metrics.
MediaMiser - Media analysis, monitoring, and measurement.
Mediatrack Research - Analysis, evaluation, and measurement of international media.
Meltwater - Reputation management, web-based collaboration & online marketing campaign management.
Metatale - Social measurement (in Dutch).
Metricly - Aggregated dashboards of web data.
MightyBrand - Monitor your brand online.
Mint (Have A Mint) - Website analytics.
Moreover - Content monitoring & aggregation.
Morningside Analytics - Mapping of data clusters.
NetBase - Understand consumer insights.
Networked Insights - Social-media listening platform for actionable insights.
New Media Intelligence - A digital media monitoring agency.
Nexalogy Environics - A social media intelligence service.
Nielsen - A global leader in measurement and information.
ObjectiveMarketer - Social media marketing and campaign management solution.
Omgili - Search engine for online discussions.
Onalytica - Extract business insights from social conversations.
Open Amplify - Create custom taxonomies to classify & analyze content.
Optify - Marketing software enabling lead generation through SEO and social.
Overtone - Meaningful insights from customer feedback and social media.
Parnassus Group - Social media intelligence.
Perception Metrics - Data-driven media insights.
Personified - Business intelligence and talent management consulting.
Postrank - Real-time data and analysis on any topic, trend, or interest.
PR Newswire - News distribution, targeting, monitoring, and marketing solutions.
PR Web - Press release distribution services to create buzz & increase online visibility.
Psydex - Real-time search, data mining, and predictive analytics.
Quantcast - Online audience insights.
Quarkbase - Website information & research.
Radian6 - Social media monitoring & engagement.
RapLeaf - Personalized online experiences for your customers.
Reedge - Content behavioral targeting & conversion rate optimization.
RepuMetrix - Online reputation monitoring & social media measurement.
Reputation Institute - Corporate reputation ratings.
ReputationHQ - Online reputation manager.
Ripple6 - Social networking software and platform for social media marketing.
Samepoint - Real-time search & trends.
Satmetrix - Customer experience management software.
Sentiment Metrics - Social media monitoring, measurement, and engagement.
SentiMetrix - Online reputation analysis (in Italian and English).
Serendio - Customer experience analytics.
Shoutlet - Social media marketing platform.
Silverbakk - Social media monitoring based on language and relevance.
SlideShare - Share presentations, get stats & generate leads.
SociafyQ - Open social network analytics.
Social Mention - Real-time search results.
SocialMetrix - Social buzz measurement (in English, Portugese, and Spanish).
SocialRep - Social market intelligence.
SocialReport - Enterprise-class social network analytics.
Socialscape - Social media conversation monitoring.
Social Target - Social media intelligence.
Socialware - Social middleware company.
So ME Tracker - Social media tracking (in Swedish).
Spinn3r - Real-time indexing of the blogosphere.
Spiral16 - Software for web and social media monitoring.
Spredfast - Enterprise social media management.
Sprout Social - Social media management & CRM.
StartPR - Find, manage, and respond to mentions of your company.
Storify - Turn what people post on social media into compelling stories.
Surchur - Real-time search.
Symscio - Communications research firm specializing in media analysis & surveys.
Syncapse - Social media management.
Synthesio - Social media monitoring & engagement.
Sysomos - Business intelligence for social media.
Techrigy - Social media monitoring & analysis.
Tinker - Follow live conversations in social media.
TodaPulse.com - Manage your social media marketing.
Traackr - Measuring online infuence.
TraceBuzz - Find, filter, and show you buzz.
Trackur - White-labeled social media monitoring tools.
Translated Labs - Readibility analyzer.
Trendrr - Track the popularity and awareness of trends.
Trustworthy - Tracking social media response.
Truviso - Web analytics software.
UKNetMonitor - Internet reputation monitoring.
Unilyzer - Social media dashboard software.
Viral Heat - Social media monitoring & analytics.
Visible - Social media solutions for enterprise social intelligence.
Vitrue - Social relationship management platform.
Vocus - On-demand software for public relations management.
Wavemetrix - Buzz research.
WebClipping - Media monitoring & clipping service.
Website Grader - How well is your website doing?
WebTrends - Mobile & social analytics.
Whitevector - Monitoring & analyzing social media.
WiseWindow - Mass opinion business intelligence.
WooRank - Website analysis tool.
Disclosure -- Jon Samsel is the CEO of Heardable.com, one of the tools included in this list.