I was talking to someone who used to be a social media manager and they mentioned that they feel like they cannot call themselves a social media expert anymore because social media changes so frequently, their skills are now archaic. I am sure there are many social media professionals out there who agree with me when I say that social media changes on a daily basis and even current social media managers run the risk of having outdated skills if they miss one article about a tiny change Facebook made (again). Social media managers are known for being the trendy type because we have to stay on-trend to be successful at our jobs. The moment we stop being early adopters and hunting out popular trends is the moment that we lose all credibility in our space. So how do we keep our skills sharp when we are also responsible for checking numerous social media networks 24/7, attending back-to-back meetings and managing emails between customer service and any other team that has their hands in social media? I was faced with this tough predicament in one of my more recent roles with a national organization. I was overseeing 64 social media networks, and responding to current news in real-time >> this included creating a point of view, copy and images within 15 minutes of a story breaking on the news. I managed to escape the craziness for a half-day social media event in NYC that I was speaking at. As I listened to my fellow social media pros, I realized how ‘in the dark’ I had been the last few months. Chatbots? What the heck are those? As more and more terms started sounding less and less familiar, I realized how my skills could use some sharpening and became dedicated to never letting my skills become so dull again.
How did I do that AND keep up with the fast-paced social media world? Here are five daily habits that became the sharpener of my social media skills:
I have Google alerts set up for each social media network and ‘social media’ in general. While I openly admit I do not always have time to open each Google alert, I do at least skim most of them and see what I need to know. If something registers as ‘new’ to me, I click on the article and quickly read how the industry is advancing. If I do not have time to read the article right away, I will flag it and come back to it on Friday afternoons.
Social Media Dates
I forced myself to carve out enough time in my schedule to have bi-monthly social media dates. These could be anything from a lunch with another social media pro in the city, to a Skype date with one of my favorite social media besties. We would discuss challenges and successes in our current roles, as well as what we thought of new happenings in our industry. These are a very effective way to network and also learn new things from industry peers.
Daily Social Media Updates
I assigned someone on my team the task of finding the top five social media articles in the morning and writing a quick brief on each of the five articles. She then would send out the email to key team members, with links to the original emails for those who had time to read them.
Webinars are great because you can dial-in, but still, handle work as it comes in while you are listening to the webinar. They also usually are followed up with a PDF of the slides that is helpful to review on a commute, Friday afternoons or any other time there is space in the day.
Friday Afternoon Blank Space
Ever since I started working, I have always tried to clear Friday afternoons for digesting what happened in the week and prepping for the next week. Now I also incorporate time into Friday afternoons for reviewing any social media Google alerts or webinar slides I was unable to review during the week.
Something valuable I learned this past year is that you absolutely have to make time to sharpen your social media skills, or you will soon find yourself lost in words you do not understand and features you did not know existed. Social media changes at such a quick pace, and it’s essential to make sure you keep abreast of every change to be effective at your job. What are some tips you have for staying up to date on social media skills? Leave them in the comments below!
– Marji J. Sherman