Social media marketing never stands still. New platforms, changes to algorithms, new features, new opportunities to integrate social media marketing. You have to stay on top of all these social media changes while also giving great service to your clients.
Otherwise, the competition will come snapping at your heels.
The good news is that it can be done.
To help with that I’ve tapped into the experience and insight of two social media marketing powerhouses; Kris Ruby, President of the Ruby Media Group, and Eric Zimmett, President and Founder of Braden Social Media. They both share how they go about staying on top of their game when it comes to changes in social media marketing.
The challenge of staying on top of social media changes
There is huge pressure to keep up with change in social media marketing. Some of that is inevitable and driven by the need for your agency to continually prove its worth. It’s also driven by clients who are tempted to jump on the newest social media platform in the hope that it will deliver huge results for them as early adopters.
That push can be a huge distraction.
Kris Ruby, President of the Ruby Media Group, knows this full well and advises a strong strategic focus: “The biggest challenge from the agency side is not necessarily the changes in the social media platforms, it is the client’s expectations about what platforms they should be on as new networks become trendy. I firmly believe that social media is a larger part of a cohesive communications strategy…People need to spend more time on the up front social media strategy before delving into the platforms. A big mistake that people make is trying to be on every single platform – especially if their target audience isn’t even active on it.”
Keeping up with change in social media marketing is necessary but it’s time consuming and can easily be pushed down the ‘to-do list’ when client work needs to get done and deadlines are looming.
The key, according to Eric Zimmett, President and Founder of Braden Social Media, is to work smarter, not harder, by adopting a questioning mindset: “I constantly have to ask myself: Is this app/service worth more of my time right now? Would devoting more time to this app/service benefit my clients today?”
Getting this balance comes down to having a plan and sticking to it. That plan has to have two essential strands:
- Planning and structure and
- Identifying your information resources.
Planning and structure
If you don’t put the planning and processes in place, it’s likely that your efforts to keep up with the pace of change will fall by the wayside. There are some aspects you simply have to lock down, including:
- Being clear on your strategic objectives and what you need to focus on so you don’t get distracted.
- Protecting and scheduling time to dedicate to reading important articles, going to the conferences and following key bloggers and influencers.
- Focusing on your specialist areas so that the knowledge and insight you gather help to build on your expertise rather than diluting it. You just can’t stay up-to-date with everything. Instead, make a decision to focus on the areas where you and your clients will see most benefit.
- Monitoring and reviewing the time you spend on intelligence gathering is crucial. So too is assessing the results when it comes to using new platforms and features. What seemed like a good idea at the time might not deliver the results you had promised so close scrutiny is essential to give you the earliest warning.
Identifying your information resources – intelligence gathering
The other key aspect of keeping up with the pace of change relies on using the right tools and resources – to enable you to seek out information but also to bring relevant news and updates direct to your desktop or mobile device. It’s likely that you’ll use a combination of methods – you have plenty to choose from. Here are some to get you started.
OFFLINE: Conferences to meet people. Industry conferences are useful on a number of levels. They can give you a flavor of the developments that are in the pipeline and how influencers see the future of the industry. They are also important for making connections. Staying up with sector news, key websites and influencers will help to highlight up and coming events as will regular online searches and scanning online conference listings websites.
WEB: Google Alerts. Google Alerts provides a quick, easy and free way to stay on top of what is going on and to be alerted when new content gets published that uses key words/phrases you have identified.
The key is to be disciplined when the Google Alerts come in and to set a reasonable frequency for being notified rather than letting it interrupt you and reduce your productivity.
Smart use of keywords and phrases can, says Kris Ruby, of the Ruby Media Group, give great insight: “I stay up to date on changes in social media channels through google alerts and by customizing my apple news on specific news outlets I want to follow, and keywords within the industry. I also like to follow the specific hashtags within the industry as well.”
SOCIAL: Following influencers. Influencers are influencers because they have a substantial following and have also demonstrated that they are on top of their game when it comes to their particular niche of social media marketing. So, it makes perfect sense to follow what they are doing, saying and writing about to learn from them and to pick up on the resources and people that they use as reference points themselves.
SOCIAL: BuzzSumo. This is a great tool for getting a snapshot of popular content around a topic or from an influencer. You can’t assume that popular articles have hit the nail on the head in terms of a topic that has caught the imagination. So, it’s important to use this as one of a number of tools and resources to refer to.
SOCIAL: Trending topics. Checking your social media feeds and looking out for what is trending enables you to stay in touch with discussion, debate and engagement as it happens.
For Eric Zimmett of Braden Social Media, who likes to take a ‘hands on’ approach, it works to use social media itself to stay on top of news and changes in the sector: “I take on most of the R&D myself. I follow Twitter feeds; have fine-tuned my Facebook feed; and read online industry publications to stay up to date.”
BLOGS: Sign up for newsletters. For particular sites and influencers, it may be worth signing up to their email newsletters. Aside from getting the heads up on new website content, you’ll get the inside track from influencers on what they are focusing on and their.opinions about new platforms and features.
BLOGS: News feeds and RSS feeds. If signing up to newsletters isn’t your thing, then news feeds and RSS feeds can help to keep you in touch with what is going on.
BLOGS: Feedly. Using a news aggregator such as Feedly allows you to view your chosen content, news sites, blogs, YouTube channels etc. all in one place. It makes it incredibly easy to share that content too which is an added bonus. With keywords set up, and the ability to organize material into ‘collections’, this is a huge help in managing online information in a user friendly way.
BLOGS: Nuzzel. Tapping into how we notice what friends and family share, Nuzzel describes itself as ‘the super-easy way to see news from your friends’. Rather than filter out the news yourself it enables you to see what news stories have been shared by your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Staying up with the ‘pace of change’ is your duty
Keeping up with the pace of change is a huge challenge And sadly, that pace will become ever more fast moving. If you don’t have a solid plan in place now for staying on top of the developments and new features emerging in social media marketing then now is the time to set that right. You have a duty to your clients staff to do all within your power to stay informed about the social media changes that matter.