The bad news for small business owners is that social media is one of the most important and cost-effective ways you can promote your business and gain a loyal following for your brand.
The worse news is that staying on top of the trends and best practices for social media is a full-time job. If you, as a business owner, did that successfully you wouldn’t have time to run your actual business.
Ready for some good news?
A handful of people make their living by staying on top of social media, and a few of those people share a lot of what they know for free. If you keep an eye on even some of these 10 resources, you’ll be able to make informed decisions about your company’s social media mojo. At the very least, you’ll know what questions to ask before making them.
- Social Media Examiner
This should be your go-to for top level, 10,000-foot view information on what’s happening in social media. Their content ranges from generalized best practices, to specific advice for individual platforms, to tips for optimizing communication or tools within your team as it applies to social media. If you only watch one of the resources on this list, this is the one to pick.
**Subscribe to Social Media Examiner if you want to know how to ask your social media team the right questions, and understand the answers.
Formerly SEOMoz, these guys are experts in optimizing online content for Google search. Once upon a time, they didn’t have much to do with social media, but since the big Google Authorship push in 2012, social media activity has had as much to do with Google rankings as many other factors.
**Watch them to understand the nuts and bolts of optimizing your social media to improve your search performance.
- Simply Measured
They are a social analytics company that helps businesses understand what’s going on with social media platforms, how that business is performing on each and how to make that performance look like what you want it to be. Their blog handles social media trends at the strategic level: what it means for social media, the market and your business.
**Read their blog to better understand how the large moving parts of your social media strategy work, and how you need to change them.
- Nuanced Media
They are an inbound marketing firm that focuses on B2B marketing. They post nuanced blogs about what to do with your social media contacts and community once you have them. Although the content is aimed at business-to-business sales, almost all of it can apply just as easily to B2C and B2G business models.
**Subscribe to their feed if you’re not sure which social media metrics to watch, or what to do about them.
They offer a real-time map that shows the trending hashtags and conversations in any given location. This can zoom in and out for broad trends and hyperlocal happenings. Though the site gives no insights on what to do about the information (and the most robust functions require an inexpensive subscription), it’s a great place to start any social media brainstorming session.
**Check it out whenever you’re figuring out what to engage around at any given time, and also when you feel like procrastinating while pretending you’re doing something useful.
- Mari Smith’s Blog
For every 100 Facebook marketing gurus, there’s one who actually knows a little. For every 10 who know a little, there’s one who knows a lot – and every one of those people listen to Mari Smith. She’s the one who knows the rules and when to break them because she discovered or wrote half of the ones we follow.
**Follow Mari if your rely on Facebook for your community.
- Matt Cutts
A Google native and tech geek, his blog and video feeds are what other Google+ and Google search gurus look to when they don’t know what to do next. Some of the stuff is a little technical for non-technical business owners, but your digital marketing team will understand.
**Watch Matt if you rely on Google Plus for your community, or if you need help with the finer points of SEO strategy and how it applies to your business.
This company helps businesses (and individuals) use Pinterest to make connections and find customers using Pinterest.
**Read Tailwind’s blog if a Pinterest following is part of your online marketing strategy.
The advantage of HubSpot is they cover everything related to digital marketing, including social media. The disadvantage of HubSpot is they cover everything – meaning it can be challenging to sift through all the content to find the information you need right now. Their reports are detailed, up-to-date and effectively actionable whether or not you subscribe to their full-service packages. If Social Media Examiner is the one-stop spot for novices, HubSpot is where you go when you’re ready to ask deeper questions.
**Visit HubSpot regularly when you’ve got a handle on the basics of social media marketing and trends, and you’re ready to swim in deeper waters.
- Techmeme and Slashdot
Both are older school resources but still alive and kicking for good reason. They remain two of the best sites to visit for keeping track of tech news and trends, including social media. The only drawback is you have to spend a little energy sifting through all the other fascinating tech stuff to find the social media news that matters to your business.
**Read one or both to keep abreast of the biggest trends and market shifts in social media.
Of course, it’s not enough to know what’s going on with social media. You also have to do something with that knowledge. Because not all effective social media marketing is free, sometimes this means spending money you don’t have on hand. When that happens, a small business loan or line of credit from Kabbage puts that money in your account, so you can invest it where it needs to go when you need it to go there.