The sheer amount of “essential” social media tools out there is astounding. The lists of social media tools you can’t live without have expanded from 10 to 30 to the hundreds, making my eyes glaze over. How do you know which tools are truly great and which ones are superfluous? I’ve cultivated a few questions I find myself asking over and over when looking into social media tools, and which ones answer the call with gusto.

Does it answer an immediate need?

Various social media tools were built for different things. Some were built for management and broadcasting (Hootsuite, Oktopost), others for research (Topsy, SEMRush Competitor Analysis), and still others for strategy (Socedo). Not all are created equal, and each has a different very specific purpose. Whatever the tool is built for, make sure the solution matches your exact need.

Does it save you time?

UX is the name of the game with social media tools. If you’re in a tool for more than 10 minutes and don’t know exactly what you’re doing or how your work will be simpler with the app, trash it. The UX should be simple, intuitive and clearly communicate value.

Who does it help you attract?

A great social media tool will not just widen your marketing funnel; it’ll expose you to the people most valuable to you. Whether that’s through analytics telling you which posts work and which are ignored, searching for the hashtags most relevant to your audience, or tailoring who you follow to a specific audience, your social media tool should strengthen the value of your social media audience, not just make it larger.

Is it strategic?

If a tool doesn’t answer an immediate need, it should provide strategic value. This type of tool is difficult to assess value for, as building strategy takes time and effort. However, a tool that provides strategy should also provide analytics. Use these to assess the quality of engagement a tool is bringing.

  • Is it building your targeted audience?
  • Is it bringing people to your site? Are they bouncing off or staying a while?
  • Are your conversions going up? Can you rightfully attribute conversions to the tool?

If you can’t answer these questions, the tool should not be used to build a strategy from. Strategy is built from data and testing. Which brings us to the next question…

What does the data tell you?

Check out their case studies. What do they focus on? You’re looking for numbers: Hours saved in management? Increased engagement? Increased traffic? If you speak to a rep from the company, ask about case studies whose results you want. How did they get those results? How can you attain similar ones?

Once you’re in the tool long enough to have significant data, check out the reports.

  • What does the data tell you?
  • What’s different and similar to what you already know about your audience and your social media efforts?
  • Can you alter the outcome based on data?
  • Does it come with testing capabilities?

What is the outcome?

So you’ve been in the tool for, say, a month. Has it become a valuable part of your schedule? Are the analytics part of your regular reporting? Can you prove its worth to your boss? If you say no to one of these, re-evaluate the tool’s necessity in your workflow. And don’t settle for a tool if it’s not exactly what you need. Remember, there are always other fish in the sea. Happy fishing!

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Meegan KauffmanMeegan Kauffman is the Marketing and Lead Generation Manager at Socedo. She uses multifaceted research and brutal honesty to create intuitive, engaging and actionable web experiences.
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