Gini Dietrich

How to Choose Social Media Tools

By: Gini Dietrich | May 20, 2013 | 

How to Choose Social Media ToolsIf you are reading this in your email or Reader today, click over and stop by the blog today. Something new and exciting is there.

If you’re reading on the blog, surprise!

Thanks to Nick Harrison at Dashal and our fearless content director, Lindsay Bell-Wheeler, the site has a brand, spanking new design.

A few things to note:

  • The big orange “Go Pro” button takes you to the monthly webinar or other content we have available.
  • You can listen directly to the week’s Inside PR recording without having to leave the site or go into iTunes.
  • Our #FollowFriday recommendations get to hang out in the sidebar for a week and you can follow them on Twitter directly from there.
  • The navigation follows you as you scroll.
  • The logo has been slightly modified to provide a space between Spin and Sucks because it drives me crazy when people write SpinSucks (which we realized is because there wasn’t a space in the logo).
  • Lots of other fun stuff!

Check it out (test is on your phones and tablets, too) and let us know what you think!

Now on to your regularly scheduled programming.

How to Choose Social Media Tools

I’ve been reading a lot about how an organization should choose social media tools. There is some great advice – “be tool-agnostic” – and some terrible advice – “create a Twitter strategy,” but it all boils down to one thing: Are you driving people back to something you own?

By “own,” I mean your website or blog. Something you control. Something that won’t go away if the start-up darling gets bought or shutters or the founders get bored.

Something you can track, monitor, measure, and tweak strategies, content, and messages applicable to your audiences (not to the latest social network’s rules).

I like to think of it as a wheel (like we describe in Marketing in the Round): You have the website and/or blog in the center and the social networks and other ways of promoting your content are the spokes.

Once you figure out what kind of content is on your owned site(s), you can then begin to think about the tools you use.

Ask yourself the following questions:

  1. Where are our customers currently participating online? You can find out simply by asking them or by using tools such as Flip Top or Xobni.
  2. Where are our prospects currently participating online? Use a tool such as Traackr or Inky Bee to discover where the people you want to target are already participating.
  3. Which tool(s) can we focus on first?
  4. Can we prioritize our efforts?
  5. Where are our competitors spending their time?
  6. Can we do something new and different that gives us a perceived industry lead?
  7. Do we have experts internally who are willing to spend some time engaging with customers and prospects online?

I’m sure there are a gazillion more things to consider, but this will give you a good start. Where your customers and prospects are participating is where you should do the same.

Don’t get on Twitter just because everyone else is doing it. Do your competitors have Twitter pages? Were they abandoned? If so, they’ve already done the work for you … and know Twitter wasn’t a great use of their time.

Participate where your audiences are. That may mean you’re using a social network no one is talking about yet or it may mean you’re – gasp – using email. Whatever it is, your time is well spent because you’re not building the Field of Dreams and waiting for everyone to show up in Iowa.

Once you figure out the where, this infographic from Mark Smiciklas at Intersection Consulting will help you out with the how.

Social Media Strategy

About Gini Dietrich

Gini Dietrich is the founder and CEO of Arment Dietrich, an integrated marketing communications firm. She is the author of Spin Sucks, co-author of Marketing in the Round, and co-host of Inside PR. She also is the lead blogger at Spin Sucks and is the founder of Spin Sucks Pro.

  • “Are you driving people back to something you own?” I had this exact conversation last night with a friend who owns a SMB. His website is a train wreck (to put it mildly), he paid some kid $100 to build it like 5 years ago, it’s all Flash, and there isn’t a way for him to collect emails or a list of any kind. Fast Forward to last week, he was contacted by a social media agency telling him he doesn’t need to worry about having a website, they can generate thousands of ‘Likes’ for him on Facebook and it will be just as good. 
    I’ve been trying to get my friend here to update his website for a long time, but the crux of our conversation last night was this… You have to have a way to connect directly with your leads, current customers and former buyers; and you need to own that channel, not solely squat on someone else’s digital real estate. Having a fancy Facebook presence with no owned online property is like having a fancy sports car with no gas in the tank… people might stop by and notice, but when you need to run to the corner store to grab something you still have to take the bus.
    Great post ginidietrich as usual, it seems like Spin Sucks is written just for me.

    • briantudor I have a similar story, but I was in line at security in the Ft. Lauderdale airport and the guy in front of me was telling me he was thinking about hiring a social media agency for that very reason. Nooooooo! What happens when Facebook dies?! You lose all your customers, your prospects, your content. I love your sports car analogy. I’m stealing it.

      • ginidietrich you can use it, I’d hate to think you stole something. I keep hearing about this happening more and more. People keep forgetting you need a holistic approach because social connection are so big. 
        Oh, and yeah the new site looks super slick.

    • You don’t even need a website when you can just use a site like Tumblr. I mean, it’s not going anywhere! Just ask anyone who migrated there from Posterous.

  • Man this site is looking extra sexy now. I’ll want to come by just to look at it. 
    But the thing that struck me about this post is the same as what struck Brian “are you driving people back to something you own.” I don’t see why this is hard to get for some people. You would never be taken seriously as a PC store if you only operated every other Wednesday out of the trunk of your car in the public library’s parking lot. Nor would you in a reputable outlet if no one knew your store was there. 
    I’m about to update my main site too – Lord knows it badly needs this. And my central query was that demand generation be possible from every page possible.

    • Tinu Oh crap! I love this analogy too! Now I have to steal both yours and Brian’s!

      • Thanks, and steal away. I enjoy the idea of syndication, or outlet stores as metaphors too, for example, you’d never run a company that was just discount outlet stores of your cut-rate merchandise.

  • Sexaaaaaaaay.

  • I liiiiiike it. Ok, now I better go read the post….brb. 🙂

  • I’m with Tinu and briantudor – I also fail to understand how “driving people back to something you own” is so difficult for folks to grasp! Although, in the case of very small businesses that use facebook instead of a webpage… I kind of get it. Sometimes, you’ve just gotta do the best you can and if you don’t have any budget to hire someone who understands web design/social media, and you do understand facebook, and you’re a teeny “salon” business (for example) that has a full roster already and you just need to keep in touch with your clients for bookings and such – I give you a pass.
    I like the redesign – it’s nice and clean. Although, it didn’t fix the problem I have with Firefox – I can’t leave comments if I’m using Firefox. Have to use Safari. No biggy for me, but if other people are having similar issues you might be losing potential community members and I’d hate for that to happen 🙁  In all fairness, I’ve never actually told anyone I was having that problem, and as awesome as belllindsay is, I’m pretty sure she’s not psychic.

    • Kato42 Unfortunately that glitch isn’t one we can fix…it’s  a @livefyre issue. I know they’re working on it so hopefully it gets fixed soon!
      I’m not sure I agree on the Facebook as website debate. I would be really sad if an organization used Facebook for the reasons you mention and the social network dies. I totally understand why they would do it, but they’re also risking all of their content, community, and customers when Facebook goes away.

      • ginidietrich I hear you. But I also watched my mother, who started a business when I was 12, struggle with the cost-benefit of various small business decisions over the years, and I guess what I’m saying is that as much as I’d love for everyone to do things the right way, I’ve seen first-hand how that’s just not always possible. But much depends on the scale of your business and the type (the hairdersser I mentioned is, basically, friends with all of her clients, so when FB dies, she’s already got strong ties with those people to carry her through the transition).

        • ginidietrich And, apparently I can’t spell “hairdresser.” Sigh. There goes my credibility!

        • Kato42 I see your point. I still don’t like it, but I totally agree.

        • ginidietrich I don’t like it either! I used to spend hours trying to convince my mother to do things the “right way” … but she’s managed to build a great business in spite of ignoring my advice 🙂 She’s financially solvent and I learned a lot about the jerry-rigging struggling small business owners sometimes need to do – win/win, right?

      • ginidietrich Oh! and good to hear about Livefyre working on the Firefox issue 🙂

  • Ohhh new tool alert, I haven’t used Flip Top yet. I was using Xobni for awhile, but it was a bit too clunky for me. For organizations with larger sales teams check out what LinkedIn is offering. I took a demo last week and was super impressed….now I need to find the dollars. 🙂

    • katskrieger I know Xobni has been through two new updates since you used it so it might be worth checking out again.

  • NICE new layout. Love the big CTA “Go Pro” button! Oh and you can listen to Inside PR! I also like the “Catalog” options and pretty sharing buttons. OK I guess I should just say I like all of it LOL

    • KateFinley LOL!! I’m pretty pleased with it. They did a great job!

  • This is such great advice! I was in a meeting with a client a few weeks ago and they said they wanted to “be in social media because they don’t want to miss any channels”. When they described how they planned to use Twitter, I said I didn’t think they should or that they really wanted to. By the end of the meeting, I had them thinking about social differently. However, I have zero confidence that it will last since they want no more help. Businesses that jump into all kinds of social channels just to be there without any thought make me a little mental.
    Congrats on the new layout!!! It’s very snazzy. 🙂

    • Karen_C_Wilson It makes me mental, too! We love to do a competitive analysis for clients to show how many social networks are abandoned. It usually helps us make our argument. Usually.

      • ginidietrich Karen_C_Wilson be happy that 90% of brands struggle with social or they wouldn’t need us. Fact is most of the money being made in social media is not the Brands but the ersonal brands and the CFO/CMO’s know that. Show them how they can benefit for real and you will get their ear and buy in.

    • photo chris

      Karen_C_Wilson What I love even more than THAT is when my boss thought it would be a good idea to use FB (after a year of hounding) and twitter (against my advice) and that, “we’d just post the same stuff to both.” *headdesk* (Thank you Amy Vernon!)

  • Love the redesign. Very clean.

    • Joshua Wilner/A Writer Writes Thank you, sir!

  • Wow Swanky design. I feel like I am in the VIP room at the Casbah. Bottle service. Personal Valet (bdorman264 loves that role).
    This is kind of what had me blog Friday that I am not a Social Media Expert because those folks reach social media 24/7 as the solution for everything often based on the tool/platform they love best.
    People and Brands have to be ready for life after Facebook. I bet it comes sooner than most think (and of course much longer after I thought). And tracking and measuring is really important because otherwise you are wasting time and energy.
    Thanks for the infographic Gini best ones lack any ‘data’ promoting the Wow factor of Hype. Good job!

    • Howie Goldfarb I think life after Facebook will be here sooner than we think, too.

      • ginidietrich oh so I better download that happy jumping photo of you before it is too late and leaving me with just your sad photo of mourning.

  • KarenD.Swim

    I love the redesign, it’s fresh and uncluttered, hmm just may be the final kick in the pants I need to make some tweaks to my own site! Great advice on social media. There is an old saying in sales that God gave you two ears and one mouth for a reason – to listen more than you talk! Listening first is crucial to developing an effective social media strategy. I build it into new engagements as one of the first things we do. Thanks for continuing to share good tips and tools!

    • KarenD.Swim Ohhh! Tweaks on your site?! Do it!

      • KarenD.Swim

        ginidietrich Thanks for the encouragement, I’m in! 🙂

  • I don’t see share buttons?

    • Howie Goldfarb Dude. What are those right over there <—–?

  • Nice new design Gini & team. Clean and easy. (I see the share buttons on the left side).


  • Ooooh, beautiful! I love the persistent bar at the top. And now I’ll stop writing SpinSucks forever. 50 lashes with a wet noodle (as my grandma used to say).  And you probably already KNOW my thoughts about having a home base and not relying on FB….

    • rosemaryoneill LOL! I couldn’t figure out why people kept writing it as one word and Lindsay said, “It’s because the logo is one word.” Ohhhhh!

      • ginidietrich rosemaryoneill Yup, that was me, too! Good to know! And the site looks great.

  • You redecorated… and now Jack Bauer is texting me saying he can’t find his food bowl! 
    The site looks great! Very clean and easy-to-read. Kudos to you and the SS team!

    • Adam | Customer Experience Ha! I really did move his bowls yesterday and he was very confused at dinnertime last night.

  • AnneReuss

    Slick. Scannable. Spotless. Smooth!

  • Classy! Lovin’ the fresh clean feel.

  • The new site looks great!  Too funny about SpinSucks vs Spin Sucks.  I always wrote it as one word because I though that was the brand standard.  🙂  
    What a great infographic, too!

    • HeatherTweedy Sigh…I’m the only one who didn’t realize the logo was wrong!

  • susancellura

    Love the new site! And, I’d like to say that the group over at Inky Bee is very helpful! The good news around the Spin Sucks confusion? At least people were trying to follow the brand standard!  🙂

    • susancellura I saw I have a link from you. Goodie!

      • susancellura

        ginidietrich Hope you like it!

  • sherrickmark

    dig the new design folks! looks great.
    There are so many tools out there for social media. As an amateur, I’m amazed at how the pros can keep track of them all coherently!

    • sherrickmark Thanks Mark! Nice to see your face!

      • sherrickmark

        yeah, I don’t get out as much as I’d like to. Hit a blog reading lull and Im tryin’ to get back in. 🙂 Glad to be here.

  • Love the new look!  I like the Go Pro button, despite the fact that orange is not my favorite color. 🙂

    • fieldsf I kind of wanted it to be pink, but alas.

      • ginidietrich fieldsf Well, if your choices were between pink & orange, I highly approve of the orange.  I know you’re one smart cookie, and all, but I don’t associate you with pink . . .

  • Love the new digs, Gini! It’s slick and clean! I really like the drop-downs with different ways to find content. Very cool! I know what a big undertaking a website redesign is, so kudos to you and your team for getting it done!
    As to the social media tips, very good stuff. I think far too many businesses jump in without asking those questions. I think one to add, but kind of goes with #6 and #7 is “what content will we share?” I think that without original content that you create (typically on your website or home base), you’ll have a tough time gaining any traction. Sharing other people’s stuff only gets you so far.

    • lauraclick And now…the Arment Dietrich site is next!

  • intersection1

    Hey Gini, just a quick note to thank you for featuring my infographic in your post. Much appreciated!

    • intersection1 I really love it! Thanks for the inspiration.

  • Beautiful new design, and great idea to feature the FollowFriday people on the sidebar. As for the rest of the article it’s surely right, going where the audience is.

    If only I knew where my audience is. 🙂

    • Andrea T.H.W. It’s over there! ——>> Oh wait! Over there! <—– Oh never mind. I don’t know where you audience is either.

  • photo chris

    lol- the graphic made my head spin- so glad you are here to keep it all straight for us! The site is fantastic 🙂

    • photo chris I kind of love it…it’s very pretty!

      • photo chris

        ginidietrich photo chris  Agreed! It makes my head spin because it’s an awesome visual reminder of HOW MUCH is out there! And that is dizzying to me 🙂

  • Congratulations ginidietrich belllindsay and the rest of the Spin Sucks team! Not only does the new site look fantastic and is much easier to navigate but now it takes the guess work out of the name. Yes, I was one of those who was confused. Guess I was in good company. 😉

    • EdenSpodek Ha! It was pretty funny. I asked Lindsay why people kept doing that and she said, “Um…because the logo is one word.” Ohhhhh!

      • ginidietrich EdenSpodek And your Twitter handle. Oops!

        • EdenSpodek Well, Twitter handle you have no choice. It has to be one word

    • photo chris

      EdenSpodek ginidietrich belllindsay you see, I thought you were just supposed to say it all excited, SpinSucks! kind of like, *headdesk* but in a good way, lol

      • photo chris LOL!! I like that explanation! EdenSpodek belllindsay

        • ginidietrich photo chris EdenSpodek belllindsay HeadDesk, I think I’ll buy the URL and use it to name my next business. 😉

        • EdenSpodek ginidietrich photo chris belllindsay I want a *headdesk* tee shirt!

        • photo chris

          belllindsay EdenSpodek ginidietrich photo chris belllindsay Ohhhhhhhhhh yesssssssssssss! That’s it…that’s your new claim to fame. Your “million dollar baby”  Please don’t leave us plus-sized women out- I want to be the first to have one! Oh- and so long as we’re in the concept phase, can I request a scoop neck tee?

  • Very slick. Like it. And thanks so much for the shout out for Inkybee 🙂

  • I’m so confused MILK WAS A BAD CHOICE. 
    I mean, it looks great. Good job!

    • JoeCardillo OMG! LOL! You are a nut case.

      • ginidietrich JoeCardillo Takes one to know one

        • JoeCardillo Are you seeing Rebecca and Dwayne later?

        • ginidietrich JoeCardillo I am. Pretty psyched (but I promise I’ll be coming to hang out in Chicago and see you, Yvette, C.Kent and the rest of the crew in the next few months)

        • JoeCardillo I’m SUPER jealous!

  • Nice clean and fresh look. Like it! 🙂

  • Love the new look. It’s very clean and fresh looking! I also love the advice. It’s so easy to get caught up doing things because you think you “should” or because that is what a coach or guru told you to do. The reality is that all of our strategies are unique. I mainly work behind the scenes for marketing and SEO firms. I will have a very different social media strategy than someone targeting those looking to lose weight — as I should! LOL

    • TaraGeissinger What?! I cannot believe you think weight loss is different than marketing and SEO. Some guru you are.

      • ginidietrich I know, right? I absolutely despise the ‘one size fits all’ mentality that persists out there. So many times I hear “You should blog at least once a day.” or “Update your FB page at these exact times.” Uggh! There is no magic formula that works for every industry. 🙂 I love having business mentors and participating in masterminds where we can bounce ideas off each other and really dig into what’s working….but it is ultimately up to me to decide what’s right.

        • TaraGeissinger I hate that in our industry and I hate it in our society…get rich quick, lose weight fast, blah, blah, blah. There is only way to get results: WORK FOR IT!

  • Arment Dietrich, Inc.

    Clearly I can’t spell… ^yp

  • jesslaw

    The site redesign looks great! 🙂 Looking forward to continuing to read!

  • timbo1973 You were right in time…we just finished painting a week ago!