Imagine you are getting ready to run a race.
You've done lots of training and developed some pretty good techniques and strategies to get you ahead of the competition.
But this isn't any old race. Not only do you have to be fast, you have to stay fast for a long time.
In other words, endurance matters.
And that's not all. The competition is tough, really tough. If they can physically knock you out of the race, they will. Their goal isn’t just to win; they want to make sure you don't finish.
And here's the toughest thing of all. The ground you are running on keeps changing....
You’ve realized that every forward step you take moves you in a different direction. Some steps even move you backwards, just like a giant, diabolical game of Snakes and Ladders.
But you know it is really important to keep moving, so you do a quick check and get ready to take that next step…and realize that you blinked and it’s all changed again!
Can’t move. Can’t not move. And you daren’t stumble….
The stakes to this game are high, very high. Not quite as bad as the Roman gladiator games (or the Hunger Games), where if you lost you died, but almost.
If you don't win, you don't earn money and without money, you don’t get to eat and neither does your family.
SOUND LIKE A FUN GAME?
Well, if you own a business or you are responsible for the marketing side of things in your organisation, you'll know that trying to keep up with the changing social media scene is a lot like the game I described.
It's difficult, to say the least.
Too many choices, not enough information.
New types of social media tools emerging all the time. Old ones losing popularity.
How can you stay on top of it all?
How can you even find out what you need to know so you can keep track, let alone use those social media tools effectively to sell your products and services?
YOU ARE NOT ALONE
I face the same struggle in my business. I'm always hearing about new social media tools and every couple of weeks someone will tell me, "Trudy, you have to use X!"
Who has time to investigate them all, decide which ones to use and then learn to use them!
We’re all busy.
But my question to you is...what happens if you DON'T take the time to figure out which social media tools to use.
Well, just remember that more and more people are using their mobile phones for everything Internet these days.
And PRNewswire reports that retail revenue from sales made through Google Shopping ads grew 52% year-over-year in the 1st quarter of 2016 with mobile driving the majority of the growth.
The first rule of business is to be where the customers are, right? Or if you are a government organisation, where your clients are.
Well, your customers and clients are using social media. Facebook and Twitter and Pinterest and a whole host of others.
You just can’t ignore social media anymore and hope it will go away.
HERE’S SOME HELP
Since I had to figure out which social media tools to use for myself anyway, I decided to take what I had learned and make something I could share.
With the help of some great people [see the footnote below], I’ve pulled together a short document that gives a visual introduction to some of the top social media tools out there. Click on the link below to download it.
Download Your Free Social Media Infographic
AND SOME MORE HELP
I have also put together a list of some of the best posts I've read recently about social media.
There is much wise advice in them. I highly recommend taking the time to read them. If you really don't have time, save the URL and come back to them later on.
1. Which Social Accounts Matter?
Although it was written in 2014, this Kissmetrics blog post is still relevant today. It covers off a large range of social media platforms, from the big 4 that you should be on, to the niche-platform that you should think about being on.
It also provides criteria for choosing which platforms to use.
2. 11 Effective Ways to Use Social Media to Promote Your Content
This blog post contains well-written “how-to” commentary. The author, Neal Schaffer, provides some common-sense tips on how to make your social media content more effective.
Neal Schaffer is a global social media speaker who has spoken on three continents and also teaches as part of the Rutgers University Business School Mini Social Media MBA Program.
3. Content Promotion Tools: The Ultimate List
Alex Barca is a Content Marketing Specialist at Curata. He provides a nice infographic on the different types of social media tools. Once again, it is from 2014, but it is still useful.
4. Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet
I wish I had known about this resource the day my graphic designer said, “how many pixels do you want that graphic to be?” All I could do was look at him blankly and say “uhhh…”
This blog post and infographics provide the images sizes for various social media platforms. It has been updated for 2016. I’ve certainly found it useful.
5. 2016 Social Media Marketing Predictions From The Experts
This great collection of predictions (as of December 2015) by Lisa D. Jenkins is from the Social Media Examiner. Just as its title says, it has a number of social media experts predicting (in very different ways) what is going to happen with social media in 2016.
6. And another one for good measure
Rebekah Radice from Post Planner, provides heaps of good advice about some of the looming social media trends.
Social media tools are critical for any business. Trying to keep up with all the changes is like trying to drink from a fire hose. Trying to predict where the trends will take you and your business is even harder.
So I hope this post has been useful as you slog through the quagmire of social media choices.
Once again if you'd like to download my infographic on the mainstream social media tools, click on the link below. It's free.
Download Your Free Social Media Infographic
Oh, by the way...I hope you win that race!
 Sam Pulford, Online Research Analyst; Rick Plumridge, Ricochet Graphics and Lucy Wang, Experimentum
West Island Digital specializes in helping people and businesses take the struggle out of using digital technology. Director, Trudy Rankin, has over 15 years experience helping organisations effectively use digital technology to achieve organisational goals. She has also mentored and coached numerous people, helping them articulate, then achieve their goals.
Trudy has a Master of Commerce degree in Management and Employment Relations and is a Fellow of the Australian Institute of Management. She has change management experience, is fascinated by Organisational Design and is a certified project manager. Trudy deeply believes that collaboration is the key to achieving outcomes that benefit all stakeholders.