If you do a quick search for social media management tools, you’ll quickly find there are hundreds of options out there. This initial discovery can be a bit overwhelming for marketers. No matter which platform you look at you’ll find just as many articles touting their unique features as you will talking about their downsides. So how do you move forward with confidence and avoid getting stuck in analysis paralysis? The good news is you don’t have to sit through months of sales calls and demos to answer that question. By using the strategic approach outlined below, you can find a solution that fits your needs and spend your energy using the tool to create efficiencies in your day-to-day workflow.
Take some time to outline your current social media landscape. Review your social media strategy and identify which platforms and tactics you are using to achieve your goals. Be honest about the resources available to help you execute that strategy, considering staffing bandwidth and technology you’ve already invested in. And last but not least, ask yourself what areas of your day-to-day workflow are taking up most of your time. Understanding your current pain points and roadblocks will be extremely helpful in the next steps of this process.
It’s easy to get distracted by the bells and whistles of any given platform, so before you do any research, we recommend conducting a gap analysis to figure out what exactly you need this social media tool to do. Having a clear picture of your needs, based on your goals and the friction you are currently experiencing, will keep you honest when you’re evaluating various tools and keep you from gravitating toward fancy features you won’t actually use.
While you will have some unique functionality requirements based on your social media strategy and business context, there are some standard attributes you’ll want to consider when determining your evaluation criteria. Most tools promote four core sets of features: publishing content, monitoring and engaging with your community, listening for trends, and reporting success. In addition to these capabilities, make sure you review your current marketing technology stack and account for any tools you’ll want to integrate with the social media tool you choose, such as your CRM. Lastly, identify how many people will need an account and how many social channels will need to be connected. This will come in handy when you compare pricing tiers.
You can use your available budget as a criteria to weed out some tools off the bat. You know if the tool is far too expensive, you don’t need to spend time researching its functionality. We recommend choosing three options and running them through your evaluation criteria to start. If you find a tool that meets all your criteria and fits your budget, congrats, your search is complete! You could spend months looking at every tool you see, but to what end? If you’ve done a proper gap analysis and created a rock solid list of evaluation criteria based on your current landscape and the gaps you have, then any tool that fits the bill will move your social media program forward.
At the end of the day, the tool you choose is far less important than your commitment to implement it. Purchasing a social media tool and effectively using the tool are not one and the same. The only way you’ll see a return on your investment is if you give as much attention to the implementation of the tool as you did to the selection of it. Once you acquire a social media management tool, you have to do the heavy lifting of configuring the features and setting it up in a way that creates efficiencies and allows you to spend your time on tasks that truly require a dedicated marketing expert with a deep understanding of the brand’s goals.
If this approach sounds good in theory, but you know your team doesn’t have the bandwidth to execute it right now, get in touch with us! We have a lot of experience helping our clients successfully navigate this process.
Got more questions about your digital strategy? We'd love to talk to you!