7 ways to keep up with social media changes

A new platform or tool is born almost every day. How’s a pro to keep up? Test out a few of these suggestions.

Trying to keep up with social media is overwhelming.

And it’s little wonder why. We’re living in the middle of an unprecedented frenzy of change.

When was the last time there was an innovation in television that impacted the way we marketed? It was 1975—cable TV, and now, arguably, the move toward asynchronous viewing on mobile devices. If you do a lot of print advertising, the fundamentals have been the same since the advent of the printing press in 1450.

But social media? Not only do the platforms shift every day, the rules of engagement change constantly, too. Can anybody keep up with the real (and rumored) changes just to Facebook’s EdgeRank formula?

What we considered best practices six months ago are passé today. Social media is overwhelming, especially when there is pressure to master every new platform that comes along.

So how can you keep up? Here are seven ideas to help you stay calm and carry on:

1. Master the marketing fundamentals.

The most effective coping mechanism for me is a deep understanding of marketing fundamentals. The platforms keep changing, but the basics of marketing and consumer behavior don’t.

If you can view technological change through the lens of marketing fundamentals, you can more easily weed out the stuff that just isn’t going to make it. If you’re serious about a career in social media marketing, focus on learning the marketing part.

2. Form a support group.

You can’t possibly keep up with everything, and neither can your friends. But together, you can make a dent.

I have a few trusted friends who are more tech and SEO inclined than me. We help each other by discussing the latest trends over lunch once a month. This gives me just enough juice to be at least conversant in a topic.

3. Consider a focus area.

This is a hard thing to think about, but maybe you can’t keep up with everything. Maybe you need to focus on specialties. I’m starting to see consultants specialize in LinkedIn, Facebook, and video marketing, and that’s probably a smart idea because you have a chance to be an expert in at least one thing.

I struggle with this because I teach survey college courses and I have to know something about everything. Frankly, I’m having a hard time focusing because I don’t want to miss anything. Everything is interesting to me.

4. Go where your customers are.

Maybe it’s time to give up on Path or even—gasp—Google+, and stay on top of the platforms relevant to your customers.

5. Give yourself a time limit.

Are you reading social media blog posts in bed? Maybe it’s time for a self-imposed time limit to force yourself to focus and prioritize.

6. Eliminate engagement guilt.

Here is a hard lesson I’ve had to come to terms with: The more successful you are, the less able you are to engage with your fans and followers.

I hate that.

But if I tried to maintain the level of engagement I had even a year ago, I would not just be overwhelmed, I would be insane. As your tribe builds, you simply have to adjust and come to grips with the fact that you have a life beyond social media. Some things are going to slip through the cracks. Allow that to be OK.

7. Do research.

An obvious way to keep up with social media trends is to go to a highly-respected, curated source of content on key social media developments. Here’s the problem (and a business opportunity): This does not exist, at least not any place that meets my needs.

Where do you go for social media tech and business highlights? How do you cope with the amount of change in this field?

A version of this post originally appeared on Mark Schaefer’s blog {grow}. He is the executive director of Schaefer Marketing Solutions.

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