There’s a lot of debate about how to use social media to build and grow your business and the number of tools out there to help you manage a business social media campaign can be dizzyingly overwhelming. You may even ask if you should be using social media at all. While the major platforms like Facebook are still a classic that you should at least have some involvement in, how do you know if you should invest your time and resources in alternatives like LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest, Twitter? How many of the new tools like Cyfe, Cloze and Quora should you explore?
Social media blogger, Rosemary O’Neill has a set of five factors to consider at that I personally find helpful and I’ll summarize here:
It’s important to consider both the cost of the tool and the time it takes you to learn how to use it. Also, many of the “free” tools are only free for the most basic functions but cost real money if you’re going to do anything actually useful or business-oriented with them.
- Learning Curve:
As I mentioned above, the time it takes you to learn a new tool is a cost you have to consider. Remember the wise saying, “time is money.” It’s important to evaluate how long it will take you to learn how to use one of the new tools and compare it to how much value it will bring your business. Can you be out closing a sale or getting a new client instead? Or will the tool actually help you get more clients than you would have without it? Several social media blogs like Mashable have user-based reviews and tips on using social media tools. My recommendation is to look at these first before investing too much time in a tool that may not benefit you. invest a bit of time upfront to read up on the tools and determine if they’re right for you.
- Your Target Market:
Naturally the best way to reach your customers is to find out where they’re going when they’re online and communicate with them there. The Ignite Social Media blog publishes an annual report that breaks this down in a way that is extremely helpful and provides a ton of social media statistics. The report also discusses how people search and what tools they use so you can easily find out if your target demographic is watching YouTube videos, for example.
- Your Overall Strategy:
Certain social media tools are either industry or purpose-specific. Before investing time and money in one of these, ask yourself if the features the tools offer are in line with your business model. Also, several tools do essentially the same thing. You really don’t need multiple tools performing the same function. For example, Hootsuite and Tweetdeck both provide automation features for your business social media campaign, so you wouldn’t want to use both.
The problem with all these new tools popping up is that you never really know if they’re going to stick around. If you invest a lot of time and money in a tool that houses your data or becomes a key part of your social media strategy and that company or tool disappears overnight you may be scrambling to get your data or shift your toolkit. While it’s not a bad idea to be an early adopter of a tool, it’s not a smart risk to go “all-in” with a tool before you know it’s stable and will be around for the long haul.
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