Another Tool in the Toolbox

There are so many tools out there designed to help you execute your social media campaigns. There are ones that analyze your analytics, ones that schedule your posts, ones that monitor your brand mentions... the list goes on and on. It always seems like there’s a new one getting added to the list. It can be tempting to add every bright, shiny, and new tool to your digital toolbox, but how do you know if it’s worth it?

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Before the allure of a new tool has you hitting that big “buy now” button, remember that every tool takes time and effort to set up and maintain. Probably more than anticipated, since each has a learning curve to master its ins and outs. Give yourself at least a few days to contemplate your decision to avoid becoming a company with an overflowing, expensive, and rarely-used digital toolbox.

Ask yourself these questions to make sure the tool in question is worth the effort and the cost:

Um, so what does it do exactly? 
Take a good hard look at the tool’s features. Where do they tie into your current goals? Make sure you clearly understand how this tool can help you do your work, so it isn’t just a unimportant kind of nice to have addition to your day. For example, if you’re looking at an analytics tool, make sure it actually gives you all the analytics you need so in the future you’re not adding on even more paid tools to fill the gaps. This is the one time we'll recommend that you call their salespeople and make them tell you for sure; put those sales skills to the test!

Is there enough time in the day?
Tools take time. Used well, they can simplify your current routine to have you posting and analyzing content like a social media boss. So when you assess a tool, ask yourself: where does it tie into your current routine? Does this tool create more time in your day for you to be doing other awesome things, or does it actually add an unnecessary step? Take a monitoring tool for example. Used correctly, it can aggregate all the Google searches of your dreams into one easy-to-check platform so you're not visiting 5 separate websites each day. Used incorrectly, it can be yet another cumbersome tool that you'll probably stop using. A lot of tools let you take them for a test run just for this reason, so try before you buy to make sure it's a help, not a hindrance.

What’s the price tag? 
It’s all about those dolla, dolla bills. What’s the cost of the tool? Don’t be fooled by seemingly low costs right off the bat. Sometimes tools are free or a minimal amount at first, but they don’t actually do everything you want them to do until you start throwing dough their way. Make sure you know the full cost of the version of the tool that actually has the features you want before you give it straight access to your credit card. Hound those sales folks and Google the cost of the tool you're eyeing to see what other people have to say based on experience.

Who’s going to be the champion?
Every tool needs an all-star. The person that will take the time to learn the nitty-gritty details to get the tool working as smoothly as possible. Are you ready to be that person? Or is someone else on your team? Don’t fall victim to the classic this tool seems like a good idea, everyone on the team agrees, and then six months later you realize no one actually uses it because they thought someone else was. 

Is it actually special?
Sometimes tools really aren’t that special, even if you think they are. It's a competitive market, and something you've been pitched to solve your hashtag searching problems might just be a glorified version of Twitter's free search function, just repackaged with a cool logo. Make sure none of your existing tools already have the features you’re looking for; call up those account representatives and ask them directly (that's what they're there for!). Don't just buy something because it's shiny and new, even if it's cheap.

Does it play well with your other tools?
Newsletters, customer databases, social media... If you start listing out all the programs you use in a day, it’s probably A LOT. So does this new tool you're considering integrate with your existing tools and platform? Do they play nice or avoid each other like the plague? It’s always worth checking out how a new tool works with everything else in your arsenal to avoid a facepalm moment where you realize there was a better, more compatible option. 

So, is your tool worth it? If you're still not sure, give us a call and we'll do some free vetting for you. We've tried everything at least once!