This morning, I attended an event co-hosted by Social Media Club Boston (organized by Todd Van Hoosear) and Social Media Breakfast Boston (organized by Robert Collins) on evaluating social tools. The panel addressed several points to consider (beyond budget) when trying to decide what to do after listening to social channels for mentions of your brand is no longer enough. How can we decide which tools work best for our goals? How to we decide where we should be hanging out to talk with our customers (Twitter? Tumblr? Facebook?), and once we get there, how do we coordinate internally to make sure our message and tone is consistent?
The panel included:
- Scott Kiekbusch: Director of User Experience, Digital Influence Group (moderator)
- Janet Aronica: Community Manager, oneforty
- Zach Hofer-Shall: Analyst, Forrester
- Kathy O’Reilly: Director, Social Media Relations, Monster.com
- Ben Boardman: Marketwire and Sysomos
Some of the key takeaways from the discussion:
Your strategy around using social tools should be solidified first before assessing which tools can fulfill your needs. Developing that strategy should first involve a good deal of listening only, and using web analytics to determine where your audience is spending the most time.
When choosing tools, keep four main categories in mind: Discovery (listening and searching for your brand & competitors), Publishing (the platforms themselves: Twitter, Facebook, WordPress…), Measurement (what was your return on investment for participating?), and Database (social CRM). Some tools address some of the needs, but you likely will need a combination of tools to cover all of them.
Keep in mind that a large part of your social strategy will involve educating your internal team (more broadly, your employees). Policies should be in place to guide your team on how they should participate, rather than just what they can’t do. Employees are often your best brand advocates — identify them and make use of their talents, but also emphasize that your brand comes first (above individual personalities).
A plethora of tools were mentioned in this morning’s panel, so to quickly compile them, I’ve hand-selected the best takeaways and links to all of the tools mentioned using Storify (see below). If you are currently using any of these tools within your own group, or would like to examine them, please let us know in the comments or reach out to me directly.
Image courtesy Intersection Consulting on Flickr / Creative Commons