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Discovering the right tool to help you to have a complete understanding of what the ideal social media marketing campaign would look like for your business can be difficult. Before you even start researching the numerous tools available, it is vital to ask yourself these three questions in order to be able to view the numerous marketing tools available in the right context.

  1. What are your goals?
  2. Why are you looking for a new tool?
  3. How do you want your team to interact with the tool?

After answering these three questions you will be in a vastly better position to determine the features required with your new social media marketing tool.

What Features Are Essential?

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Determining which features are essential in your marketing tool upfront enables you to readily weed out under-performing utilities and focus solely on the best contenders much more rapidly. Start off by creating a succinct list bearing the following in mind:

  • How Do You Interact with Social Media? If using social media to nurture customer relationships and build brand loyalty is important, check if the tool you're looking at allows you to interact with customers directly from the platform and automate some of the more tedious day-to-day actions it takes to manage your platforms.
  • What Social Platforms Are You Using? Some you may use for scheduling, while others you may use for reporting, so make sure the product you choose supports a diverse list to meet your needs.
  • How Much Data Do You Wish to Have to Analyze? The amount of reporting and analytics can vary a great deal between available social media marketing tools.
  • How Important Is Scheduling and Social Interactions to Your Team? If scheduling is important, make sure you're able to use this platform to publish to all of the social platforms you use.

After compiling this list, review would encircle the top five items that must be included in order for your marketing team to operate effectively. This final list gives you both the essential and stretch features required to ensure that your team can operate at peak efficiency.

Evaluate The Initial List

Gather a team of people that will use the product every day to determine if it will meet the current and future needs of your company. Eliminate any that do not include all your essential features, and then rank the remaining according to how many of the stretch features they offer. Feel free to start free trials during this phase, just remember how to cancel them! Here are the top things to consider during this evaluation period:

  • Data Feedback - are you able to access all of the reporting and analytics you need,create PDF reports, and generate CSV files with raw data?
  • Customer Support and Training - is there live support, a support number to call, and a vast help library in place so you can get answers as you need them?
  • Security and Product Integration - is there an API available so you can build applications to interact with your social media?
  • User Experience and Collaboration Tools - is there a user workflow in place, enabling you to manage your social media as a team?
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  • Short and Long Term Pricing - pricing can vary greatly when it comes to social media marketing tools, so make sure you find the right fit for your budget!
  • Will the Program Grow Alongside Your Business? - reach out to customer support or sales, ask how often they up update their product, and whether it can be customized to meet your growing needs.

Make The Switch

After winnowing down the list to just a couple of strong contenders, it is important to pick one and run with it for a short trial. Do not agree to a lengthy contract up front, since issues may arise in the near term that will necessitate you switching to your second or third choices. When you start this process keep the following things in mind:

  • Does the Tool Help Your Workflow?
  • How Hard is it to Get Your Team Up to Speed?
  • Can the Contracting Company Help Improve Integration?
  • Is it Meeting Your Marketing Goals?

Evaluate the tool for long-term performance every couple of weeks or months, until you feel comfortable that it is meeting your needs. Just remember that the market is constantly growing, so make a point of starting this process over every year or so. This will ensure that your team always has the best tools for the job!