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April 25, 2011
Staying On Top of Social Media Trends
The urgency to stay on top of what is going on with Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube, and the relentless need for content to fuel blogs, is the most difficult part of social media marketing. Change is constant and the social media marketer must know as much as they can to get the greatest exposure for their clients. So how much do we need to study? I would advise: as much as you can read in an hour a day. I try so hard to keep up with technology, but I must confess that I miss a lot, too. Like I tell my kids, just do your best.
Facebook’s recent changes to its business pages were, admittedly, mostly good changes. But I was disappointed that all that time I spent learning FBML was a waste. Now we merely insert an IFrame into the page to create awesome custom pages for our clients. I suppose I’m lucky that I already knew CSS.
Twitter changed its layout and we all had to scramble to redesign the beautiful and informative backgrounds for our clients. Hopefully most of you were getting paid for these redesigns. This is another instance where it pays to have everything in writing in your contract with the client.  A couple of my social media clients that have me on retainer considered that part of the monthly fee. Instead of losing the client, I redesigned. Another reason to keep your source files!
Based on my experience as a social media marketer in addition to the posts of my colleagues, I have come up with a few tips to effectively navigate this turbulent medium.
1. Follow the Right People
Perhaps it’s cheating, but I rely on others to stay up-to-date with social media. I follow Mashable.com and TechCrunch, create Google alerts, and follow the experts on Twitter and YouTube. Set aside time each day to read the posts or watch the videos so you don’t feel guilty about it. It really is important research for your business. Some people are even helpful enough to answer questions and provide advice.
2. Learn the Tools
It’s hard to tell what you need to invest your time in learning. My takeaway from the Facebook changes is to let someone else learn the technology when you can. Then use the products they develop to do what you need to do. Facebook apps are wonderful, and allow you to create great custom pages without knowing any code.
3. Have a Plan
Determine your purpose in creating the social media campaign. My social media clients usually want to:
  • Increase their website's traffic
  • Establish credibility and build their business’ brand
  • Provide support to their overall SEO efforts
  • Find potential customers
  • Promote their products or services
4. Be Active
Once you’ve established momentum (your members, followers, etc. are increasing and are active), take advantage of it and be consistent in actively promoting and updating.

5. Use the feedback
Monitor what people say about your clients on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media communities. Track your progress and change the marketing plan (or even the product) if necessary.

To be successful, you need the right resources, tools, and training, as well as technical support and people you can communicate with when you need to talk through your strategies. Apply your plan to whatever technologies the experts say are the best. Test out emerging trends, but don’t invest too much of your time—It will all change tomorrow.

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Larissa Harris is a graphic designer, Web developer, and social media marketer. Read her blog, LarissaHarris.com; "like" her Facebook page; or follow her on Twitter
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