Social media, like many other industries, is no stranger to trends and fads that gain quick popularity and then swiftly burn out. The platforms that stand the test of time have managed to adapt to the evolving needs and sensibilities of their respective end-users. Facebook, for example, is not the same as it was when it first launched. The social networking site boasts 1.13 billion daily active users and is undisputedly the most frequented platform globally.
How does Facebook manage to maintain its relevancy? Their developers continue to iterate and introduce new features focused on delivering utility. Today Facebook users can instant message, make international voice and video calls, conduct ecommerce transactions, and even stream live video. While those innovations are nice, the real reason that people keep returning to Facebook is a simple one: all of these features are free.
However, Facebook is not the only social media platform to constantly update itself. Instagram has recently released its stories feature, Twitter is moving towards implementing its own version of live video, and Pinterest has recently ventured into news content delivery by acquiring Instapaper and integrating it into its existing range of features.
Unfortunately, social media can become a rather fickle market and specific networks can quickly lose relevance (MySpace anyone?). New platforms and features are constantly emerging and are rapidly changing the ways that the users use them.
So, this raises the question: How do you keep up in a social media ecosystem that is constantly changing and evolving? The following three methods will help you stay current with the trends that you need to implement into your own marketing and PR strategies if you wish to be in line or even ahead of the curve:
There are a handful of digital publications in the PR and social media fields that cover new platform developments, such as SocialTimes and PR Daily. Reading content on these sites will help you stay ahead of the game by knowing what changes will be coming to your favorite social networks. Will a feature be eliminated, added, or modified? These types of online resources will be the first ones to know and will offer plenty of in-depth insight on these events.
Fake it ‘til You Make It
Sometimes, the best method for learning something new is to take a hands-on approach. Create a separate social media account that serves one purpose: to learn new features. This account is not for adding friends and sharing content. Its purpose is to allow you to tackle new social media features head-on in a private setting. Want to play around with Facebook’s live video input but don’t want it to appear on your personal timeline? Create a separate account and play around with the feature on there. This way, you can master new social media plugins without it spilling onto your personal or company accounts.
Lifeline – Phone a Friend
Do you have a friend, colleague, employer or employee that you think is more well-versed in social media than you are? Don’t hesitate to ask them to show you how to use a new feature. That way, someone who already has a command of the feature can guide you to learning the fundamentals. After all, social networks serve to connect people, so make sure you take advantage of that!
Final Step – Execution
After mastering new features on your desired social media platforms, use them in your brand’s marketing strategies. Staying current with your followers’ social tastes and sensibilities will entice them to engage with you in new ways that will yield more rewards on your end. Using one, two, or all three of these approaches to learning new features on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, or any other platform of your choosing will aid you in growing your audience reach.