"I give up," she said. "I can't keep up with all this social media change. I'm leaving the business."
That was the start of my conversation with a friend who had worked in marketing for more than 30 years. For somebody who created so much value in our field for so long, this was a big decision but she decided she was better suited for a career as a painter.
But this is not just an issue for the "old timers." My 25-year-old friend Ellen Martin wondered aloud recently if she could keep pace with the changes.
Let's be honest. Keeping up with marketing developments - especially the intense rate of social media change - can be a terrifying prospect and this is an issue on a lot of people's minds.
Why keeping up with social media change is difficult:
I wonder sometimes if our bodies are built for the stress of constant change. If you think about it, our DNA has been optimized for gathering food, making babies, and avoiding danger. This whole bit about processing rapid change does not come naturally, does it?
Even two generations ago, our ancestors lived in a world that was pretty close to the one they grew up in. The thought of "keeping up" never would have occurred to them!
If you are a business professional, however, you really have no choice but to run in this race.
Here are seven ideas to help you stay calm and carry on.
1. Master the marketing fundamentals.
The most effective coping mechanism for me has been having deep experience in marketing fundamentals. Yes, the platforms keep changing, but the basics of marketing and consumer behavior don't. So if you can view technological change through the lens of marketing fundamentals, you can more easily weed out the stuff that just isn't going to make it. If you're serious about a career in social media marketing, focus on learning the "marketing" part.
2. Form a support group.
You can't possibly keep up with everything and neither can your friends. But together, you can make a dent in it. Many people I know gather regularly with a few trusted friends to help each other by discussing the latest trends over lunch. Safety in numbers, right?
3. Consider a focus area.
Maybe you CAN'T keep up with everything and you need to focus on specialties. Jon Loomer focuses on Facebook advertising. Cliff Ravenscroft specializes in podcasting. Ray Hiltz and Martin Shervington study Google+. Seems a lot more manageable, doesn't it?
4. Follow your customers.
Look, maybe it's time to give up on Path or Ello and simply stay on top of the platforms relevant to your customers. Here are the big ones: Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest and YouTube. That is where most of the customers are probably hanging out. If you need to throw your net a little wider, Google+, Instagram, Snapchat. Of course this varies by demographic and region.
5. Set a time limit.
Are you reading social media blog posts in bed? Maybe it's time for a self-imposed time limit to force yourself to focus and prioritize.
6. Avoid FOMO.
... that's Fear Of Missing Out for the uninitiated.
As you build your social media tribe and the conversations multiply, you have to adjust and come to grips with the fact that you have a life beyond social media. Some thing are going to slip through the cracks. Allow that to be OK. Social media success does not easily scale.
7. Stay centered on the results
I do a lot on my job - consult, teach, speak, write. To handle it all on top of frequent travel, I have to stay focused on the activities that pay the bills. I spend about 4-5 hours a week on my blog but other than that, I probably spend a grand total of 20 minutes a day on other social media. This takes discipline but that is essential if you are to get by in this busy world.
Those are a few ideas I had. How are you coping with the amount of change in this field?
This post was brought to you by IBM for Midsize Business and opinions are my own. To read more on this topic, visit IBM's Midsize Insider. Dedicated to providing businesses with expertise, solutions and tools that are specific to small and midsized companies, the Midsize Business program provides businesses with the materials and knowledge they need to become engines of a smarter planet.