Ever heard of Pinterest, Quora, About.me and Twylah? You may have signed up for one or two of these and you might even have used them. There are about another gazillion more tech start-ups with ‘cool’ names and flashy websites out there, all offering to be the solution to your social media marketing challenges.

Today I’d like to share my thoughts on new technology. I speak from first hand experience here and I hope you won’t make some of the time consuming mistakes I have seen happening with companies.

New social media tools are very cool indeed

It’s amazing how many new tools are released in the world of social media. Almost every day Mashable and/or TechCrunch (do have a look at these links) treat us to yet another piece of software that is gunning to be the next big thing. Whether it’s an app that helps you to do Facebook better, or to keep track of your Twitter followers or even a standalone tool that integrates with other networks, they all get lots of airtime when launched. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this, in fact new tools drive the market forward and challenges the established players. The difficult bit is really sifting out what can really be useful for your marketing campaign and what will be an absolute time waste – very hard to say before testing of course.

Everyone loves to test a new tool

Most people are very quick to sign up and start testing whatever new tool that comes out. They believe this one will help solve their marketing problems or the mindset internally about using social media. There can of course be certain benefits to new technology but the rate at which new tools are released make it difficult to keep up. I hate to say this but another tool is not going to change anything about your business, it’s only going to add to the work load and take your eye off what’s really important. People tend to get bogged down in tactics and forgetting the bigger picture.

So what’s really important?

Your strategy is what really matters. Your purpose matters, what you are trying to achieve and the results you want to get. Do a proper job of your marketing first, social media efforts second and stick to your strategy instead of getting side tracked. Once you know exactly what you want to achieve and can define that in qualitative and quantitative metrics, it’s simply a matter of reverse engineering the way forward. Tools and technology should be the last thing to consider in my opinion.

How balance strategy and tactics?

The best way to achieve success with social media is to do proper research first, then agree on a comprehensive strategy, then stick to this for the next three months before re-evaluating and start throwing new pieces of technology into the mix. Yes, keep an eye out for new ideas such as tools that can help your efforts but don’t let these get in the way of the job in hand.

Let other companies and people test tools and report back to you via blogs and other channels. If something looks very promising, do a proper test session and be sure to evaluate the cost/benefits ratio.

Bottom line

Keep cool and stay focused in the world of social media, new shiny tools will come out every day and can distract you immensely. Learn by others successes or mistakes, just like any other business would do. Another tool is not the answer, believe me.

What do you think, am I the real tool here?

More strategy fun at What’s Your Company’s Social Media Strategy?

Image credit Denise Carbonell