A Brief Guide for Selecting Social Media Tools

This is a second in a series regarding social media tools.  As I stated earlier, the first step in selecting which social media tools to use is critical and will have a big impact on the success of your marketing programs and revenue generation.

Step one is to understand how social media will support your company’s complete Marketing strategy and goals. Since there is a large selection of social media to pick from that range from SEO to aggregation to management, it is important to understand your Marketing strategy and goals and how social media will support your plans.  Hand in hand with the strategy and goals is the establishment of key metrics that allow you to track progress toward your goals.  The tools you choose have to be able to provide you with the information related to the metrics so you know where you stand.

Assuming you have done step number one, here are nine key considerations in selecting which social media tool(s) are best fitted for your company.

1-What type of platform is the social media tool:   Is the tool strictly a SEO tool or is an aggregator of various medias, searches and keywords, or is a management type tool.

Some tools only perform searches and/or searches for only one type of media, so be careful not to limit yourself in gathering important information for your marketing organization.

 2 – What type of media does the tool support?   If your company uses various media to convey information to its potential and current customers then you need to know what is being said about your company and its products and services. Therefore does the tool need to support video like You Tube, or photos like Flickr, or social media like Twitter, Facebook and overall news coverage or any combination of these?

3- Are alerts, analysis and reporting a requirement for you to perform your digital marketing?  Do you just wanted to be notified about events/comments about your company or do you need reporting summaries/dashboards with various degrees of analytics that will help you turn data into information?

4- Keywords:   How many and how sophisticated are the keyword profile capabilities of the social media tool?   To really make your searches meaningful, you need the capability to focus on areas such as target market segments or very specific topics to get relevant data.  Therefore it is critical that you have the scale and flexibility to construct various accurate keyword searches.

5- Searches:  Not only is the SEO critical to “finding” the relevant data but how efficient are the searches, is there a limit to the number of searches (some tools have a price with a search limitation or ranges of prices per ranges of searches).  If you want to collect data on a number of different topics then understand the search capabilities and how many retrievals the tool will support.

6- Blogs:   Blogs are another critical media form and if this is important to you, find out now many blogs are covered by the tool that you are considering.  Do you input the blogs or are they in a directory or is there a list that the tool covers?

7- Support:  What happens when you have a question or you need training or you encounter a software problem?   To what level and breath does the tool vendor provide support after the initial trial period?   I cannot over stress the importance in selecting a vendor that will be around after the initial purchase or after selecting one of the “free” tools.

8- Ease of Use:  Is there a user friendly GUI, are there graphs for summarizations, are there predefined reports to select from, does the analytics require lengthy setups before getting started, are there additional tools to help you in your different activities?  Is there a HELP tab?

9– Price: If you select a tool that is free, first understand what might be its limitations and then are there some later costs to either stay with the product or to get new features. If you are selecting a tool that has a price, is it per use, per account, per month, or per activities, basically how is the pricing structured and does it fit within your strategy? Alternatively, if you choose a SaaS vendor, contract up front monthly fees and the accessibility of historical data if you choose to bring this function in house.

As you can see there are a number of considerations (there are additional ones but for getting started these are the key criteria) when selecting a social media tool(s); so the question should not be “am I going to use one or more of these tools.” but “which set of tools best meets our company’s strategy and have I selected the ones that will provide meaningful information (not just data) to help optimize my marketing activities?”

 What metrics are important to you and where do you stand today in implementing your tools?

RHL 11/30/10

2 comments to A Brief Guide for Selecting Social Media Tools

  • Jim Matorin

    Dick:

    YOu have some good thoughts here and have given me a lot to chew on. However, out of the gate, it is helpful to get a better understanding of how your potential target market/audience utilizes the various social media platforms to understand what tools should be evaluated.

    Jimmy

  • Jim
    Again I agree, as I have mentioned a number of times, as a min companies should at least monitor what is being said about their company and thus you will also understand to some degree how people are utilizing social media tools
    Dick

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