Free vs. paid services

There's an interesting discussion of the value of social media analysis services going on in the comments to this TechCrunch post. Duncan Riley started it with a challenge: Why not use free tools to track social media? Judging from the comments, a lot of people don't know the difference yet.

Whilst the continued growth in companies tracking consumer generated media is a positive indication of the continued maturity and acceptance of one of the most important drivers of Web 2.0, the question must be asked: why?

Why do PR Professionals need a service to find out what bloggers are saying about their clients by a third party? ...

Many PR Professionals contact and read TechCrunch so perhaps we can get some answers: is it that some PR Professionals can't type “Insert Client's Name here” into Technorati or Google Blog Search?

How difficult is it to set up feeds from services such as Google News, Yahoo News and Topix which deliver results based on corporate brand names?

Readers here will realize that the paid services go well beyond vanity searches and feeds. Multimedia sourcing, content filtering, analysis (automated or human) and customizable client dashboards with analytical toolsets are a start. The interpretation and consulting services many offer put them entirely out of the category of the free services. And, of course, there are lots of variations, which is a big part of what makes this interesting.

Hey, I know! Let's talk to everyone in the business and put together a clear picture...

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About Nathan Gilliatt

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  • Voracious learner and explorer. Analyst tracking technologies and markets in intelligence, analytics and social media. Studying complexity and futures.
  • Principal, Social Target

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