In the fast-paced world of social media, new platforms come out and new trends surge almost daily. With these changes, PR professionals must rise to a difficult challenge: adapt faster. You could spend all day on the Internet trying to stay current on issues and trends and still fall behind. Here are four tips on how to become a social media expert, without wasting all of your time on the Internet.
1. Mentally prepped and ready to go
When it comes to social media, you need to be on your A game. You don’t want to be that guy that carelessly posts, only to have it blow up in your face. Consistently producing shareable content that supports your brand is not easy. There are a few things you can do to ensure that your creative juices are flowing.
Lisa Buyer, CEO of the Buyer Group and author of “Social PR Secrets,” spoke to PR professionals and PRSSA students from Brigham Young University. She spoke about the importance of being mentally and physically prepared to take on the challenges of social media.
For instance, Buyer observed that top companies such as Google, Facebook and others increase productivity by providing rooms for meditation. She talked about the importance of having an agenda and planning time for mental breaks. Even de-cluttering your desk can make a huge difference. Her success as a social media expert ties back to her ability to “do less more.”
There are a lot of things that stimulate creativity. Put yourself in an environment where you can focus. Learn how to brainstorm effectively. You’ll find that as you do, it will be easier to produce content that will give your brand some bling.
2. Let thought leaders do the work for you
You can do your best to stay on top of everything that’s going on and attempt to spot trends while they happen, but you’re a busy guy, or you’re a busy gal. Why not let someone else do the heavy lifting?
There are thought leaders out there who spend all their time and considerable resources spotting trends for you. With their help, you can use platforms before they get big and ride waves of interest before anyone else has even hit the water.
For example, thought leaders predicted last year that Snapchat would grow as a marketing platform. Companies who got on board, like McDonald’s and Mountain Dew, used Snapchat to advertise their brands for the Super Bowl with great success.
Catherine Sanders, a digital marketer for 97th Floor, observed that her coworkers were invaluable in showing her around the best websites for staying current. She recommended websites such as Moz Top 10 and Hubspot.
3. What matters most?
Don’t spread yourself too thin. Is there a particular industry that you hope to go into after you’ve graduated? Are there specific channels that you use to represent your company?
“Be strategic in how you spend your time,” Buyer advised. “Start where your audience is and become experts in what they want.”
One way to become an expert in what matters most is through certificates. Certification is an asset that is often overlooked by PR students and pros alike.
Websites such as Hoodsuite offer free courses that will prepare you to take the “Social Media Marketing Certification Exam.” Even the Public Relations Society of America offers opportunities to become accredited in PR. Such a certification will give you a competitive edge and will show recruiters that you mean business.
4. Passively consuming or proactively publishing?
There are a lot of things that you can do to jump into the deep end and start paddling. Improve your LinkedIn presence, use WordPress to start writing your own blogs and take classes in design programs such as InDesign and Photoshop.
Be an active user of social media. Rather than passively consuming content, put yourself out there and make your mark.
“I cannot emphasize enough the importance of writing and getting published,” Buyer said. She advised that you write on topics for the industry you’re trying to get into.
Going through the process of writing and publishing will help you get a feel for social media more than anything else. As you share and comment on posts, start conversations and actively participate in social media, your sphere of influence will grow and it will become second nature to you. You will become an expert in social media without having to spend hours and hours skimming through it.
Alec Sears is a junior studying public relations at Brigham Young University. He’s not a huge fan of long walks on the beach, but he is a huge fan of long days at the beach where he can play volleyball and body surf. He has a tendency to think he’s Batman, and aspires to save the world by doing PR for non-profit organizations.