harold lloyd hanging from clock

Can we have an honest conversation among friends?

Trying to keep up with social media is overwhelming!

Little wonder. We are 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? 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 social media platforms shift every day, the rules of engagement are changing constantly, too. Can anybody on earth keep up with the real and rumored changes just to Facebook’s EdgeRank formula?

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

But as a professional marketer, you must keep up. How is this possible? Here are seven ideas to help you stay calm and carry on.

Master the marketing fundamentals.  The most effective coping mechanism for me has been having deep experience in marketing fundamentals. Yes, the platforms keep changing, but the basics of marketing and consumer behavior don’t. So 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.

Form a support group. You can’t possibly keep up with everything and neither can your friends. But together, you can make a dent in it.  I have a few trusted friends who are more techy or more SEO-y than me. Together we can help each other by discussing the latest trends over lunch once a month. This gives me just enough juice to be at least be conversant in a topic.

Consider a focus area.  This is a hard thing to think about, but maybe you CAN’T keep up with everything and 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 am struggling with this first, because I teach survey college courses so I have to know something about everything. And frankly, I am having a hard time focusing because I don’t want to miss anything. Everything is interesting to me.

Go where your customers are. Look, maybe it’s time to give up on Path or even (gasp) Google+ and simply stay on top of the platforms relevant to your customers.

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.

Eliminate engagement guilt. Here is a hard lesson I have had to come to terms with: The more successful you are, the less ability you have 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 that with the fact that you have a life beyond social media. Some thing are going to slip through the cracks. Allow that to be OK.

The curation answer … or not. Now an obvious idea 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. Mashable? Too much crap. Social Media Examiner?  An excellent site but too much of a focus on “how-to” posts.

Where do you guys go for your one-stop shopping for a manageable amount of social media tech and business highlights? Besides {grow} of course? (wink)  How are you coping with the amount of change in this field?

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