When I hear the word “continuing education,” I usually think of a doctor, teacher or lawyer. Someone with a license to practice a profession who needs to maintain a level of CEUs to keep abreast of what’s changed in their profession. And there’s a whole market of training firms and event planners that cater to these individuals with cookie-cutter training programs and test prep courses.
In the field of social media marketing, however, I feel like the rules for staying on the pulse of things are different. Actually, on that point, there really aren’t any rules… despite new social platforms and automation tools sprouting up like weeds in a flowerbed. And it’s not hard to see why:
- Digital media just surpassed the tube as your #1 work and leisure time-waster
- Over 50 million tweets and nearly 5 billion likes are clicked on Facebook every day
- Social media generates almost double the leads of trade show, telemarketing, direct mail, or PPC
Needless to say, we’re all officially addicted to our devices and online marketing will be here awhile. But how are we as professionals keeping on top of it all?
Yes, we have conferences. And workshops. And webinars. And plenty of social media “universities” that claim to certify you as an expert. But what happens a month later when Facebook launches a new algorithm, or Linkedin limits their group sharing features, or all your nifty Twitter follower tools get banned? It doesn’t bear much clout if you can’t walk the walk anymore. So who’s going to keep us on our feet?
If you’ve got it set up correctly, Twitter can provide an amazing stream of group consciousness, as well as Google News. The trick is following the right topics and influencers. Also, sites such as SocialMediaToday, Mashable, Forbes and HuffingtonPost are a great place to start. Have a question, Google it. Want to get more involved? Join a group or forum. The issue lies not with the amount of content, but how to find the right sources.
Remember, change is the only constant.
While it may feel like more of the “same old,” I have a word of caution: Don’t underestimate the speed of change in our industry. While the strategy is the same the technology is fickle… tools and platforms are continually evolving. We all want to have the greenest grass, the best online footprint, a stellar portfolio and project success stories. And the first step in doing that is knowing the latest tricks of the trade. This is not an annual or semi-annual professional development initiative, it’s daily regimen that demands us to watch, listen and learn from the people who are making these changes happen. Find out what other marketers are doing and how you can apply it, and remember: