There are hundreds of social media tools out there, trust us we’ve been included on more than one list! So how do you know which ones are worth using? From Twitter tools, to Facebook monitoring apps and Instagram bots, it can be a social media minefield.

In this guide, we ask five questions to help you determine how to build a social media stack that is worth every penny. By “stack” we mean a list of seriously useful tools from Twitter monitoring tools, to scheduling systems and analytics platforms that will help you improve your social media marketing.

Let’s go!

Social Media Stack

1.Where does your audience go?

This may seem obvious, but in today’s social media landscape it is far from essential to use every channel. Where your audience turns to will make a huge difference to which channels and tools you use. Think less about page likes and audiences and more about where your audience is likely to hang out and where they contact you.

Do they reach out on Twitter or Facebook for customer service? When/if you work with influencers do they tag you in Instagram images or tweets? Is your demographic more likely to use Facebook or Snapchat? All of which, will make a difference to what tools you really need to invest in and which tools you can skip.

How this determines your social media stack

If you feel like you have to have a presence across each channel, because occasionally your audience might land there, use a social media automation tool such as Buffer. This will keep your channel “alive” so that a new audience or potential fan will still see your work there, with minimal time or effort needed on your part.

If you need to know everything that happens on Twitter, because that’s where your audience asks questions, you may want a Twitter monitoring tool to hand like Twilert.

If Instagram is where your audience mostly sit, perhaps you want Buffer to schedule Instagram posts and a content creation tool like StoriesAds to help you nail your Instagram Stories content.

2. Why do they use each channel?

Knowing where your audience is likely to be is only half the battle. You then need to get to know their reasons for being on that channel in the first place. Maybe they’re heading to Instagram for inspiration? Or to Facebook for a catch up on the latest news? Knowing why your customers use each channel, is the first step to seeing how you can use it and what areas you should look to optimise as a result.

How this determines your social media stack

If customer service is a big deal for your audience then you may want to use a customer service tool like Buffer Reply to ensure you stay on top of questions and queries. If your audience wants to be entertained, perhaps you need to use a scheduling tool like Meet Edgar to constantly recycle your most engaging and entertaining content. How your customers use the channel will determine what you post and when. This is where your social media stack should work hard so that your content performs well for each audience, whether that’s in customer service, news sharing, entertainment or information.

3. How do you want to approach each channel?

So, now you know where your audience is likely to be, and the reason that they’re there. Now, you need to work on your own personal approach to each channel. But remember, be picky. A selection of key tools that will allow you to engage your audience is always better than a half-hearted effort on every tool platform.

For this, you might like to think about building a solid social strategy that you can stick to for each platform. Once you have this, handpicking your social media stack to help manage the strategy is easy. You can use scheduling tools that allow you to prep content in advance, monitoring tools which help ensure you can reply to your most engaged users and analytics platforms that help you to see what went well and what went wrong.

How this determines your social media stack

If you just want to chat with customers on Twitter then a monitoring tool like Twilert will let you know, via email, each time your customers are asking questions. This is great for in the moment conversations. If you want your content to inspire, with a stream of beautiful content, that’s going to take some work. This is where scheduling and planning tools come in handy.

If you really want to drive traffic or get conversions from your social media, then you may want a more in-depth “all in one” analytics platform like Sprout Social. This is what’s going to ensure you can analyse each tweet or Facebook post in detail.

4. What are the constraints (budget, time, team)?

If you’re starting to wonder whether you can take on the requirements of your social media, don’t panic. The point of creating a social media stack is that you choose the tools to help your business. Whether you find yourself limited in budget, strapped for time, or without a full social team to work with, your stack can often perform for you and won’t cost more than you can afford.

How this determines your social media stack

You might think that you have to miss out on a social media presence because you’re time poor. But that doesn’t have to be the case. With tools such as Buffer, Hootsuite and Meet Edgar, you’re able to schedule in your social media posts whenever you do have the time. So although you may not want to be sending live posts out at midnight, you can schedule them to go out at peak times for the following day, relieving you of your social time commitments. You can also use a tool like Twilert which spends all day, every day monitoring Twitter and sends you one email digest of the tweets you need to see. This could save hours, giving you the time back to spend elsewhere.

If you don’t have much budget, look at the free tools already available to you. Many social media tools have a “free” or “basic” tier that still has many features that you might find useful. Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and LinkedIn all have native analytics platforms which offer a lot of insight into how your posts are performing, meaning that you may not even need a more expensive social media analytics subscription.

Social media tools can often do the job of a whole host of social media “team members” including helping you to find content to post, scheduling content and auto-responding to customers, helping you to save time where you need it.

5. Which tools fulfill your objectives?

Of course, it’s going to be essential that you’re able to pick out the tools that will work best with the objectives you have. And this is going to be something completely personal to your business goals. No one set stack of tools is going to benefit every single business. So work out whether you’re looking to grow your following or drive your traffic. Maybe you want to harness your digital PR, or get to know your customers better? Regardless of what your specific social objectives are, you can then pick your stack to suit what you’re trying to achieve. It’s also essential to audit your tools every six months. So often we sign up to “the new best thing” then forget all about it. Think of the money and inbox-space you could save if you were only signed up to two or three handpicked tools and they were the ones you actually needed.

How this determines your social media stack

Different tools are designed for different types of businesses. Often, this will be clear on the pricing page or in the wording section of a social media tool site. You also want to get in and really learn what your tool can do for you. If it isn’t performing, there could be a better tool out there or a free version you could downgrade to instead. If after a month of using tools to help grow your social media following, like Crowdfire or Status Brew, you aren’t growing, it’s time to cut the slack and try something new.

Where possible, always try before you buy. Any tool that isn’t helping you to meet your objectives isn’t worth your time or money.

Which tools are in your social media stack? Is it time you gave them a review? We’d love to hear your thoughts. Tweet us over @twilert