The social media technology landscape is constantly growing and shifting. This is great because it means that there’s more competition, better functionality and more opportunities to automate the pieces of social marketing that really can – and should – be automated. On the other hand, it also means that there’s a lot of overlap between technology categories and functionality, making it very hard for many of our clients to determine even what type of tool they need, never mind which solution they should choose.
Before embarking on your next social media technology selection process, be sure to consider the following:
Determine the primary functionality you seek from the tool. Are you seeking to facilitate collaboration? Internally, externally or both? Is your primary objective to enable a workflow process for social execution? Or are you most interested in using the tool to gain social insights and measure social success? Identify a primary category – collaboration, management or workflow – and be sure to evaluate all vendors’ abilities to deliver on this need. It’s easy to get swept away in additional functionality and walk away from a vendor demo without understanding how a particular solution compares to a competitor at meeting your primary need.
Control for price. A common mistake we see organizations make is falling in love with the premium version of an offering but then buying a basic version that falls short of the competition’s basic version. Vendors are eager to show you all the things that the tool can do; it is your job to make sure that you’re seeing only the things that the tool will do based on your proposed investment. Make sure that you clearly understand the way that variables such as search terms, points of access, results and other activities/features can affect price. If you’re looking at a basic package, you can never ask the question “Is this included in the basic package?” too often.
Make specific requests, and make the same specific requests of all contenders. Before the demo, have a conversation with the vendor rep about a specific use case or set of use cases that you’d like to see as part of the demo. Ideally, these are use cases that are essential to your intended implementation of the tool. For example, if you’re evaluating social intelligence tools, request that each vendor show you how its tool can be used to identify influencers, handle a multi-account user structure, accommodate multiple user languages and content languages, and support your measurement or dashboard requirements.