One of my most important jobs as the Social Media Strategist at Curator is to keep up with what’s going on in the social media industry. It’s an easy thing to overlook, because the task is essentially to read a lot of links on the internet. But it’s also crucial to keep our company and clients informed of the latest innovations and changes to the platforms we use—and the ones we may use some day.
The challenge for me is there is an absolute ton of news out there, and it multiplies exponentially every day. If I don’t stay focused, it can be easy to end up arbitrarily clicking my way through an internet rabbit hole that doesn’t lead to any gained knowledge for me or Curator. So I rely on a few tried and true tactics to stay on top of things in a timely manner.
For starters, I trust that my network will deliver the big news to me.
When someone launches a new social network, or when a change happens to one of the existing ones, I don’t worry about how I’m going to find that news. I’ve spent years building up a network of social media experts, and I know that when the ALL-CAPS-headline stuff goes down, the information will find me.
You don’t need years to develop your network (though it will get better over time as you tweak it to your specifications)—you can subscribe to my social media list on Twitter. Even better, go check out their lists and subscribe to those. A good follow-up to that would be to follow Magic Recs, which sends you DM alerts when people in your network follow someone new or share a particular piece of content.
I schedule time to read about the social industry, and I set a limit on that time.
Like I said, there is a ton of news out there. There is no way to read it all. I put a cap on how long I spend looking for social media news—usually only 15 minutes or so—and I’m absolutely brutal with deciding what’s interesting and what’s not. I use headline view in Feedly and pick out a few stories each morning that pique my interest—everything else gets marked as read.
I’m equally brutal with the blogs I subscribe to—I shuffle things in and out of my RSS subscriptions all the time—and I don’t worry about what I’m not subscribed to. Read what you like, read what keeps you informed, read what inspires you—that’s my attitude.
One last thing: I have a bear-minimum threshold for how much I read each day: One link. If that link sucks, oh well. I treat reading like working out: better to have done a bit of it than none at all.
I bundle social-industry reading with other tasks.
I’m fortunate to be tasked with curating content for Curator’s social media feeds, which means I can do that and knock out my social-industry reading at the same time. When that’s not enough, or when what I’m curating isn’t related to the social industry, I look for the “holes” in my day when I can get a quick read in: On the bus, between meetings, etc.
I write to myself.
One of my perpetual regrets is that I don’t dedicate enough time to my personal blog, particularly since I spend a lot of time writing to myself. There’s an old saying from someone, somewhere, that if you want to learn something really well, teach it. Writing to myself is my version of that. I’ll write about anything from “what happened in social media this week,” to “how do you do this new thing that Facebook just rolled out,” to “here are a few ways I think one of our clients could use this cool new social network that just debuted.”
Ninety percent of what I write will never see the light of day. That’s OK. I consider it practice—the other 10 percent is game-time stuff. And just like with sports, there’s a hell of a lot more time spent in practice than in a game situation that counts.
Lastly, I ask stupid questions.
One of the intimidating things about a public social network like Twitter (well, my profile is public at least) is that if you ask a question, it’s out there for the whole world to see. It’s a huge opportunity to look like a complete idiot. I don’t care. I’ll tweet dumb stuff that I’m curious about to people who will probably never respond to me because sometimes they do.
Even if someone doesn’t respond, someone else might—that’s the beauty of an open network like Twitter.
In summary, here’s how I stay updated on social media news:
- Develop a great network that will find the big news for me.
- Schedule a window of time to read about the industry, and stay within that window.
- Bundle reading with other tasks, like content curation.
- Summarize the news I find in notes to myself.
Do you have any surefire ways of staying up-to-date with social media news? Tweet me your tips: @paulbalcerak