Sometimes, when I try to figure out what tool might be the right one to use for any aspect of social media, marketing, content or any and all of the above, I feel like I’m staring at a wall like the above.
Recently, I was tasked with finding a tool to gather & track feedback to a website. A tool less robust than Freshdesk, but more robust than, say, Outlook.
Lots of room there. At some points, I didn’t even know what I was looking for anymore. I asked friends. I Googled. I posted queries in various groups on Facebook. Then I remembered my old friend Daniel Honigman was now at G2Crowd, a site where people post reviews of various tools and platforms. I had liked what I’d seen, and had even reviewed a few platforms. Why not actually use it for its intended purpose?
And whaddya know? It worked. I found some interesting platforms, and also vetted one recommended to me by a friend and found exactly what I was looking for.
So when Dan asked for my thoughts on social media marketing for G2 Crowd’s Spring report on the Best Social Media Management Tools, I was happy to oblige.
Social Media is becoming ever-more integrated with overall marketing, which makes perfect sense. Social media isn’t the solution, just part of the solution. Social media management augments content, public relations, marketing, advertising, and all the rest of it. Having SMM platforms that integrate seamlessly with products across these areas will be vital.
You need to figure out your overall plan and how different tools interact with one another. Just because two tools can work together doesn’t mean their integration is the best. If you love one platform, find out who its preferred partners are, because those tools will have the best integrations.
While the report isn’t perfect, it is based on user reviews – by “not perfect,” I mean that including TweetDeck and Buffer in the same tool category as SproutSocial and Sprinklr is a bit of a mismatch. As awesome as both TweetDeck and Buffer are (I’m an avid user of both!), neither is capable of the same level of social media management as many others in the category. Understand, that’s not a slam; they’re not meant to be full-service social media management platforms.
Jason Falls (who also contributed his thoughts on SMM tools in the G2Crowd report) breaks down the results very well. He also points out what I find most valuable about the report, and G2Crowd in general: All the reviews are by real people. Because G2 Crowd requires you to log in using LinkedIn oAuth, the incidence of spam is low. And you can easily tell if the reviewer is someone who works for the company.
So while not all the tools on the list are exactly what you might need, all the reviews are useful and can help you figure out what you do need.
I especially liked the “Before You Buy” suggestions, which included two things I emphasize a lot – “Social media management tools are often offered in tiered plans based on how many users the account has. Make sure to identify how many users will need access to the platform so you can evaluate costs appropriately.” and “Many social media management tools offer a free option for small businesses or for less sophisticated features. Explore the free options available to see if one meets your needs before committing to a paid tool.”
In other words – make sure you really know how much a product will cost before committing. One that sounded more expensive might end up being cheaper once you take into consideration how many people will need access to the tool. And always, always check out the free option. Even if it doesn’t do everything you need, you will get a feel for whether the paid option is right for you. While not all the functionality will be there, you’ll see how intuitive the tool is and whether it makes sense. Then go for the free trial – almost every tool offers at least 14 days or a month free. Maybe it doesn’t live up to your expectations. That’s OK. That’s why you try it out first.
What do you think of the tools outlined here? What are your favorites?