Few people have been pleased with Google Alerts as of late. Google Alerts has long been one of the most popular search and notification services online. But recently, Google Alerts users have reported that the service is slow to find new instances of search terms online, if at all. In my hunt for an alternative to Google Alerts, I landed on Mention (free to $64.99 per user per month for the Enterprise edition), an impressive program and service that offers twice as much as Google ever has. Mention is available as a mobile app for iPhone (the focus of this review), as well as Android, and I have to say that I’ve been equally impressed with its performance and long list of features.
Mention actively searches the Web and social media sites for key terms you choose, with advanced search criteria available, and in multiple languages. When Mention finds a new mention of your key terms, it can alert you in the app, by email, or via push notification in the iPhone app. You can use Mention to follow up on the activity, or, if you’re working in a collaborative environment, assign someone else for follow up. Mention is much richer than Google Alerts, and way better than the rudimentary SocialMention Web app.
There’s a lot to uncover in this wonderful program, whether you use it locally on your desktop, in a mobile app, or elsewhere.
The big question, though: How well does it find mentions online? In my testing, Mention uncovered a handful of mentions of my own name that Google Alerts has yet to show me, particularly on blogs and in social media. I even found a “jilleduffy” imposter on Twitter who was using my image and name unjustly (I had the account shut down the same day). On the other hand, Mention missed one of my articles that published here on PCMag, although Google Alerts found it within about four hours of it going online. Mention has rich features and is worth using, but I wouldn’t completely trade in Google Alerts just yet. For now, I’m going to use them in tandem.
Compatibility and Availability
Mention is available both online as a Web app at Mention.net, as well as locally on Windows, Mac, Linux, iOS, and Android and as a plug-in for Chrome. This review looks at the iPhone app.
All the apps are free to download, but you’ll need a Mention account to use them, which come in free and paid varieties (more on that below).
Features and Quality
Like Google Alerts, Mention lets you set up alerts for key terms, and then the program actively scours the Internet day and night until it finds new mentions of those terms. When it finds a new, Mention lets you know. You can get push notifications on your iPhone, or receive emails or daily summary emails.
I was surprised just how much of the functionality of the desktop app made its way into the iPhone app. For example, you can create new searches right from the app, as well as manage your social media accounts if you connect to them. And you can connect more than one account. For example, I connected my personal Twitter account as well as one that I occasionally manage for PCMag, giving me access to tweet from either account at the drop of a hat.
Tasks are a wonderful feature for business users working in a collaborative environment. Let’s say I don’t have time to respond to a new mention of my product online—I can assign another person in my group the task of replying to otherwise taking action regarding that mention.
The advanced search features are thorough. You can add operators (AND, OR, and the like), include different languages, and include or exclude various kinds of websites. For example, you could search only the Web and social media sites, but not video sites. You can also block URLs, which is handy if you’re aware of a high volume of Web content being published on your own sites for which you don’t require notifications.
The social media functions aren’t as robust as, say, TweetDeck or HootSuite, which have scheduling tools for sending posts at different times of day, and other social media-specific features.
Different accounts have different limitations, but with any account, you can always see how close you are to hitting your limits with the click of a button on “manage my quota.”
As you go through your new mentions, you can delete them, or mark them as spam so Mention can learn not to include similar mentions in the future. One problem, though: in noodling around with the app, I marked something as spam just to test out the feature and couldn’t find any way to unmark it.
Price and Nomenclature
You can sign up for a free Mention trial account, but it does have some limitations. With the free account, you only get 250 mentions and two alerts. And here’s where I hit a bit of trouble: I don’t fully understand what qualifies as a “mention” and an “alert,” and the program doesn’t make it easy to find out either. Are “mentions” the search results or the open searches themselves? And what constitutes an “alert,” exactly? Is that a result, or only the pop-up notifying you of the result?
When I looked at my quota this morning, it said I had 15 mentions used, but a summary of mentions in each of my searches showed a total of 97 mentions for one term and 11 new mentions for that same term; plus 3 mentions for another term with only one new mention there. No configuration of these numbers tallies up to 15.
Back to free versus paid: With a free account, you can only search in two languages. Your Web alerts will be updated daily, but social media alerts are in near real time. With the free account, Mention archives one month’s worth of data.
Lite accounts cost $6.99 per month, and they come with a lot more. You get 2,000 mentions, 5 alerts, support for search in three languages, real-time updates for both Web and social media mentions, but still only one month’s worth of data archived.
Pro accounts for got $19.99 per month. The Pro account comes with 10,000 mentions, 20 alerts, support for search in five languages, real-time updates for both Web and social media, unlimited data archive, sentiment analysis, as well as statistics and data export.
Enterprise level accounts, which cost a whopping $64.99 per user per month, have some neat features that support collaboration and teamwork. This level account gets 50,000 mentions, 50 alerts, support for search in ten languages, real-time Web and social media alerts, unlimited data archive, and sentiment analysis.
Better Than Google Alerts?
Anyone who needs to track instances of a name or keyword online in their career absolutely needs to try Mention and its iPhone app, and should consider paying for a Lite or Pro account. The Enterprise subscription is extremely expensive, though. It’s at least triple what I would have expected. Mention does go above and beyond Google Alerts, making it an Editors’ Choice among iPhone apps particularly suited to small businesses and brands. Still, I wouldn’t completely turn off Google Alerts just yet…
Copyright © 2012 Ziff Davis, Inc