The right tools can help you optimize your time, and maximize your social media marketing efforts. But with so many to choose from, finding those right ones can be difficult.
The growth of social media marketing has lead to an explosion of different productivity apps and assistants, all of which have varying benefits and features. The growing array of tools is both a blessing and a curse - it's great to have so many options, but it can also be hard to know which is right for you, and whether, in choosing one, you might be missing out on another, better option.
So how do you pick the best social media management tool/s, ideally suited to meet your needs?
In this post, I'll go over you seven key factors you need to keep in mind in order to make the right choice.
1. Your social media goals and needs
Why are you using social media for your business?
It's good to connect with your audience and share a joke from time to time, but if you run a business, you need to also think strategically, and consider what results you actually want to achieve through your social media presence.
The goals you set for your business will have an impact on the choice of your social media management tool - after all, you want to use a tool that will help advance you further towards your goals.
Some of the common goals businesses have for their social media efforts are:
- Increase brand awareness
- Increase lead acquisition and sales
- Increase community engagement
- Increase website traffic
Of course, you can break each of these down further - how do you measure brand awareness, for example. Is it the number of impressions generated? The number of shares you see? Total Likes?
You need to be as specific as you can in setting such goals, and as noted, these targets will also influence your needs in a social media management tool.
What do you want a social media tool to do for you? Some common needs people have are:
- Getting relevant data about social media performance
- Promoting collaboration between team members
- Scaling your social media efforts
- Saving time spent on social media tasks
- Relieving the stress of manual social media updates
With clear goals in mind, and a subsequent understanding of what you need, it'll be easier to screen out some tools that are unsuitable, refining your focus.
2. Social media scheduling and engagement
No matter who you are, it's impossible for you to be active on social media all of the time.
But with tools, you can set aside time to schedule your social media updates, and have them go live at your chosen times during the day or week.
There are various considerations to make on this front:
- Queue post - Does the tool enable you to set a queue of your social media updates, and the time they'll be posted?
- Repeat post - When you post an important piece of content on your website, you may need to share it repeatedly to increase exposure. Does the tool enable you to do this?
- Content curation - In order to keep your profiles active, and valuable to your followers, you might need to post interesting content from other sources. Some tools can do this for you automatically, or help you with curation functions.
Another important consideration will be the engagement features of a tool. Does the tool enable you to interact with your followers right from its dashboard? Can you share, like, and comment from within it?
Such capacity can save you a lot of time and stress. For example, Buffer's simple scheduling interface enables you to share your posts on various platforms at specific times:
3. User experience
Before the features of a tool can be beneficial, the tool has to first be usable.
If you're unable to find the basic functions, it can be frustrating - a tool with a great user experience will ensure that you can carry out important tasks, in a short period of time.
Before selecting a tool, you have to also consider how easy it will be to carry out the following tasks:
- Scheduling updates
- Posting updates
- Finding analytics and reports
- Engaging with followers
To find out whether a tool has a great user experience, you could go through online reviews to see what other users have to say about it.
Another option is to activate a trial, if available, to see how you find it.
Again, Buffer's user interface is a good example of a simple, user-friendly process and set up:
4. Social media networks supported
As a business, you need to focus on the social media networks that your ideal customers are active on.
Some tools might only support one or two of the social networks you need - so instead of creating a situation where you end up using three different management tools for all your key tasks, it makes more sense to seek out a single tool which supports all your needs, or, at least, as many of them as possible.
You may find that such a tool ends up being more expensive, but it may also save you money when compared to using the three different tools. Furthermore, you also need to factor in the potential savings in time and energy.
For example, take a look at the range of social media networks supported by Sprout Social:
If you're planning to use such a tool, you need to consider if these are the networks you want to be able to manage.
5. ROI measurement
At the end of the day, your boss is going to want to know why the company needs to invest in a social media management tool, and the language they'll expect you to speak is ROI. And it'll be your job to translate.
How much benefit will your chosen social management tool bring to your company? Are you able to justify the cost of a tool based on these benefits?
Generally, there are two ways to look at ROI measurement when it comes to social media management tools:
- ROI from the boost in productivity - How many hours of manual work will this tool save you? For a tool that saves your time, you can calculate the worth of the time saved during a month and compare it with the monthly cost of the tool.
- ROI of social media activities - You might need a tool that makes it easier for you to find the overall contribution of social media to your company's bottom line. A tool like Hootsuite Impact, for example, can help you better allocate such returns.
6. Social media monitoring
There are likely already people mentioning your brand online - but they'll often do so without actually getting in touch with your official company accounts. Maintaining an awareness of such mentions can be beneficial - but how can you do this?
Various social management tools will also enable you to monitor your brand mentions. This way, you can quickly react to users' inquiries and complaints, while you'll also be able to react in good time to potential PR disasters.
And aside from tracking your own brand mentions, you can also track your competitors' mentions, and/or various industry terms.
A tool that can help you do this is BuzzSumo, through which you can both monitor existing mentions and set up future alerts.
7. Analytics and reporting
Do you currently understand your business' social media performance?
Without effective analytics tools, you can't know what's really going on, and maximize subsequent opportunities.
Another key consideration in choosing the right tool is its analytics capacity, and what type of reporting functions it offers to help you optimize your process.
Some important metrics that most marketers want from their social media tool are:
- Follower growth
- Publishing analytics
- Content performance
Before picking a tool, ensure that it provides all the information you need about your social media campaigns.
In addition, does the tool have the capacity to present simple reports of your social media performance over a period of time? This can be particularly useful if you need to present your results to your boss.
Before picking a social media management tool for your company, you need to consider these vital factors - because apart from the amount you'll spend using it, you also need to consider the potential boost in productivity.
Picking the right tool will help you connect better with your audience, and convert more of your leads. Remember that whatever tool you decide to go with, you can pretty much always utilize a trial before full commitment.