It seems as though every day, or at least once a week, there’s a new tool showing up in my social media feed. It’s almost always touted as the next best thing. And “everyone” seems to be using it. So, how do you evaluate all the tools, and how do you know if they will help meet your goals. Two keys I’ve found successful: Research followed by a 30 day trial.


Before being overcome by the latest tool that seems to make your life and business better, take a few minutes to read articles from people you consider to be good sources for balanced product reviews. For me, those places include:

Shonali Burke

Kami Huyse, Zoetica Media

Shelly Kramer, V3B

Mark Schaefer, Grow

These are professionals whose work I read often and believe they understand the applicability of tools in their sphere. These folks recognize the value of learning about tools and how they might apply to different types of businesses. They realize that not all tools work for all businesses. If you don’t subscribe to their blogs, you should.

During your research, consider how the tool can effectively help you meet your business objectives. Be sure to consider the time it will take to get up to speed as well as any hard costs associated with using it.

Thirty Day Trial

Once you’ve decided there is potential, give it a try. Take it for a spin as a personal social media tool and see what you think. Use it regularly for 30 days to see if it’s truly worth your investment.

I started with Twitter in this manner in the spring of 2008. I set a goal for myself so I could objectively measure Twitter’s performance against these metrics. If it hadn’t met my metrics, I would then have let my handle go without damaging my business’ reputation. The personal use is important because you don’t want to put your business out there with a new social media account you’re not sure will last.

Maybe not Final

And remember that if you tried something and dropped it, that’s fine. Don’t forget completely about that tool as situations change. Just as your business objectives change, and that tool might now fit, social network usage changes faster than you can say “fast” and you may want that account again. That’s one reason I “file” my tool research (and much more) in my Diigo bookmarks.

So, if you’re looking into using a tool, bookmark your own valuable articles, and read mine. It’s fun to explore all the new shiny tools and experiment with some of them.

What social networks have you tried, loved and dropped? Why?