How to Decide if a New Social Tool is Relevant to Your Business

By Rosemary O’Neill

Remember how uncool bell-bottom jeans were 10 years ago? Then they became so uncool that they were cool again (they’re now uncool again, just FYI).

The world of social media works in much the same way. As Heidi Klum says on Project Runway, “one day you’re in…the next day, you’re OUT.” Facebook is the big kahuna right now, but there’s no guarantee that it will stay on top.

For that reason, it’s a good idea to at least take a glance at new or revived social tools once in a while. This post will give you some strategies to help you evaluate whether a new shiny object is “hot or not” for your online business strategy.

How to Evaluate a New Social Tool

  • Can I afford it? Remember that free tools aren’t really free. Your time is money too. Also consider whether you’d need to upgrade to a pro option to get maximum benefit from the tool.
  • Am I familiar with it? Unless your schedule allows time for training and learning curve, think about how hard it will be to get up to speed. Will it take priority over other, more important tactics?
  • Is my audience there? Try to find out the key demographic using the tool. Does that overlap with your own market strategy? A great resource for demographic information is this Ignite Social Media report.
  • Is it a relevant topic? Some social tools are topic-centric (like the new MySpace). Does the topic relate to your business in some way? Can you leverage it to support your marketing plan?
  • Does it work with the rest of my strategy/tool kit? Hopefully you’re making life easy on yourself by creating a cohesive set of tactics. You don’t want redundant or clashing applications in your portfolio. For example, you probably don’t need to use both Hootsuite and Tweetdeck.
  • Is it stable/supported/funded? It’s good to take a look at new social tools, but don’t go “all-in” until there is some traction or proof that it’s going to last. You don’t want to be caught losing your data or content if a startup pivots or goes out of business entirely.

These are just some of key considerations for when you read a Mashable article about the “next new thing” in social media. It’s important to stay abreast of changing technology, but you don’t want to chase shiny objects!

How do you decide whether to jump into a new social application?

Author’s Bio: Rosemary O’Neill is an insightful spirit who works for social strata — a top ten company to work for on the Internet . Check out the Social Strata blog. You can find Rosemary on Google+ and on Twitter as @rhogroupee

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