The social media landscape moves fast. The second you think you've figured it out, your favorite social media platform alters their algorithm or adds a new feature that'll cause you to change your strategy. Even for those who are active in the social media community, this entire process can get tiring very quickly.
While you probably won't ever be able to slow down the rapid rate of change, what you can do is put systems in place to increase your knowledge while lowering your time spent consuming content. In this 6-step process, you'll learn how to do just that.
1. Plan and Prioritize: It's Okay to be Selfish
Start by answering the following questions:
Why are you on social media?
What are your specific goals for social media?
Based on your answers, only consume content that will get you closer to reaching these specific goals.
If the primary reason for you being on social media is to sell more t-shirts on Instagram, then 90 percent of the social media content you consume should be about Instagram.
The daily decisions that Pinterest or Medium make as a company, more than likely, will not affect your business on Instagram.
2. Follow Social Media Platforms Directly
More often than not, those who work at a company are the first to know about a decision the company makes, whether the decision is a new feature, product line, or something else.
So why not get your news directly from the source? Continuing on with the above example, if you're invested in Instagram marketing, why not subscribe to Instagram's company blog? They will be the first to notify you of new features which could enhance, or affect, the way you sell t-shirts on Instagram.
Another tactic is setting up a Google Alert for the platforms most relevant to you. If you're a LinkedIn consultant, set up a Google Alert for the word "LinkedIn".
The whole point of doing this is simple: to make the intake of information as passive as possible. By enabling social media trends to come to you instead of you seeking them out, you'll be saving yourself valuable time.
3. Follow Relevant Influencers and Podcasts
Use tools like Klear and Buzzsumo to find and follow influencers in your niche. If you prefer the old-fashioned way, simply follow your favorite writers from the publications you read most. When it comes to identifying which trends are significant and which ones aren't, influencers will do the leg work for you.
Podcasts are another terrific way to find out what's going on in social media. One of the best things about podcasts is they, much like Google Alerts, make the intake of information passive. You can listen to podcasts while on your commute, working out, or buying groceries.
For starters, I recommend listening to the Social Media Marketing Podcast presented by Social Media Examiner.
4. Focus More on Trends and Less on News
Paying attention to the breaking news in the social media world is the fastest way to get overwhelmed from content overload. Remember, these platforms are companies and they're working every single day to better position themselves in the marketplace.
The best way to overcome this is by focusing more on the big picture, or trends, in social media. For example, a trend would be Facebook trying to chip away at Snapchat's market share by cloning their products. An example of breaking news would be Facebook adding Snapchat-like filters to Facebook Messenger.
A trend would be Twitter declining. Breaking news would be Twitter's stock going down yet again this quarter, or them losing their live streaming deal with the NFL.
Look at the big picture. When it comes to your company, what's worth knowing? If a topic is resurfacing, again and again, month after month, it's probably a trend. Don't stress the breaking news. Platforms don't die overnight.
5. Block Out Time
Block out a specific amount of time per day to consume content. Whether that block is 20 minutes per day, an hour, or two hours is totally up to you. The most important thing is you make this time non-negotiable. Set a recurring Google Calendar reminder if you have to. Life gets busy, and the easiest way to make sure something gets done is to plan for it ahead of time.
6. Execute More Than You Consume
In the same way you should strive to make your intake of knowledge as passive as possible, you should strive to make your implementation of that same knowledge as active as possible.
Every day, over 2 million blog posts are written, over 500,000 hours of YouTube videos are uploaded, and 80 million Instagram pictures posted. It's easy to get caught up in consuming content, but the best way to get better at a sport isn't to read a book about the sport. The best way to get better is go out and put what you've learned to the test through real practice. Social media is no different.