Social media marketing tools. There are so many out there today. More than we probably know (shudder) and they all have the best of intentions.

The purpose of these tools is to make it easier for the marketer or community manager to do his or her job. But do they actually do that? When you’re looking at a tool, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. Here are a few things you should keep in mind when choose a social monitoring tool.

What is your goal? Do you have a goal aligned to your social strategy? If not, that is the first place to start. Many social media tools look great out of context, but once you’ve identified how you and your team will use them, you’ll be better equipped to choose a tool.

  1. Before ever choosing a tool, collaborate with other members of your department to create a list of social media goals. Then, search for a tool that meets as many of these qualifications as possible. Don’t start paying for a program and then define what you need from it. Chances are, you’ll discover you’re missing aspects such as advanced reporting or social listening.
  2. What is your budget? Do you have budget assigned to a social tool? There are a lot of freemuim options and that’s great for those who need simple solutions fast. But if you don’t know what the budget for a tool is, how can you be sure you have the most effective tool for your business?
  3. Make sure you have a clearly defined budget and you can attribute the impact of social to the spend. Try signing up for a monthly trial before committing to a contract. This allows you to get comfortable working with a tool and justify its monetary value to your manager or CMO.
  4. What do you need to report? What do you need to see, and what do company executives need to see? Have you identified what is important to you and your team? If not, you may end up choosing a tool that doesn’t fit your needs and may end up losing funding in the long run.
  5. The first benefit of adopting a social media tool is being able to post to multiple social sites from one location, but remember, reporting is the real benefit. Report on details such as clicks for blog posts, articles, and infographics. Then, dive into deeper engagement by monitoring retweets, reshares, and mentions.

Social media marketing tools will help you organize and streamline your social media efforts. Giving each social site individual attention can be daunting, especially as more and more are adapted for B2B marketing each year. Better to manage one site with access to everything from Twitter to Pinterest, then go into each application separately.