We are beyond the stage of convincing the decision makers in our businesses that investment in social media marketing is necessary. Now it is all about making the right decisions when it comes to the tools we choose and with 1 million new active mobile social users added every single day, the right tools are essential for getting the results your business needs. This article looks at some of the key aspects I consider when looking at social media tool – hope they help you too!

5 Criteria for Social Media Marketing Tools

It is possible to spend hours looking over the features and benefits of the many social media marketing tools out there but really it’s the actual value they bring to your business that matters. Below are the key criteria to keep in mind, with some examples too, when choosing social media marketing tools.

1. Easy to Use

Let’s start with an obvious one – with so many social media marketing tools out there, it’s important that you look for one that is very easy to use. Too often, they become overcomplicated and too complex or time-consuming for regular use. Designers and developers who take a low maintenance approach create tools which are much more effective and are much more liked by the users.

Good social media marketing tools not only need to be easy to get used to, they need to be easy to learn and potentially roll out across an organisation. A good tool will not just improve your performance once, it will make your business and your team more productive.

2. Effectiveness

Does the tool you’re looking at do what it says it will do. Some of the tools on the market are so complex that they seem to have forgotten their core purpose. A good social media marketing tool will deliver on its promises when you first research it. Hashtagify is a great example of this – it’s a tool that describes itself as “the most advanced Twitter Hashtags search engine” and has recently added Instagram tracking too.

The main purpose of the tool is to search hashtags on Twitter (and now Instagram), but it adds way more value than this – it identifies influencers using those hashtags, finds related hashtags to the one you’re looking for, and helps make your marketing efforts go further by uncovering useful data and insights into how the hashtags are used, where, when, by whom and so on.

3. Up to Date

The speed at which social media moves means tools have to be able to operate in real time. Beyond this, they need to keep up to date with the latest trends and features. Although not always the case, tools which themselves have a strong and active social media presence and consistently produce quality content can be relied upon to be at the cutting edge and fully up to date.

Buffer is an example of a tool that doesn’t just talk the talk but walks the walk as well when it comes to social media. Constantly providing up to date insights and quality content through their social media blog cements their position as a reliable resource and fully up to date.

4. Genuine Business Value

What does the tool do for your business? More than just making it easy to track metrics or reporting numbers, does it deliver anything tangible? Do the reports you generate provide actionable insights so you can improve the impact of your campaigns? And do you understand all the metrics and criteria you need to include, analyse and derive insights from within your reporting?

Your social media measurement is one thing, but converting these metrics into a report that demonstrates business impact as well as learnings is another. Make sure your chosen tool or tools have the ability to deliver real palpable insight which can be worked from and used going forward in future campaigns. An excellent example here is, social media analytics firm, Sotrender, which provides detailed insight on top of the reported metrics so you don’t have to figure it out for yourself! Their reports even include explanations of what each measurement criteria actually means so you can make sure that your social media report is on the money and provides the most value when compiling your reports!

5. Customer Service

Other considerations for a good social media marketing tool must include elements you would consider essential for any product or service you invest in. Is there good customer service available when you need it for your chosen tool? Some of the bigger brands out there may offer 24/7 support while smaller niche tools may not be quite as available but the typical trade-off is lower cost – what level of service do you expect and require for your business? Read reviews of the tools you’re looking at to make sure that the level of customer service you need or expect is provided.

Of course, there are lots of other considerations that I could talk about, such as cost. Rather than just considering the initial outlay you need to assess whether a tool is a cost-effective investment for your business. It may be cheaper than other options, but if it is a time-suck then you quickly lose any financial benefits as you become less productive and more frustrated!

Social Media Tools in Summary

One of the key things to consider with any business investment, including any social media marketing tool, must be whether it’s going to have a positive impact on business growth. One of the first things you should be asking of any tool is how is it going to help your business grow. This could be the amount of time it saves, the productivity it delivers, or the insights it finds.

When it comes to building the right social media marketing infrastructure for your business you need to keep many different factors in mind. It isn’t enough just to know the features and benefits of a tool, you need to see where it fits into your business and how you can make the most of it.

Read more: How Social Media Drove Ecommerce in 2014 (INFOGRAPHIC)