If you’ve ever worked in social media, you know it can be both fun and infuriating. When I describe my job to people, they say, “Great, you get paid to play on Facebook all day!” While this is (semi) true, it is not the whole story. That ad dashboard that took months to learn the ins and outs of? Completely redesigned. The targeting options I planned to use for our next big campaign? No longer available. Need to set up a sponsored post to begin immediately? Surprise! The dashboard has a glitch. Time to research a work-around.

The great and maddening thing about social media is that it is always evolving. So how can you and I stay socially sane? Great question.

One of the most important ways to stay up to date on new social trends is by READING. Whether it’s a blog, magazine article, forum, case study, tweet or the comments of a YouTube video, I consume as much information as possible, so I (and my clients) are not left in the dark. Social media best practices, especially for paid social media, can be subjective, so I enjoy reading other peoples’ opinions. I follow industry blogs (by the time it’s a book, it’s over) and I regularly sign up for studies and newsletters to get the latest. Webinars and podcasts also provide interesting perspectives and fresh ideas. Even if I don’t agree with everything I read or hear, I like to to be sure I’m exploring every option and bringing new ideas to our clients.

In addition to reading, I enjoy MONITORING other brands (and sometimes people!) on social media. From an organic standpoint, it’s interesting to see how brands interact with their fans and followers and how they make the most of their voice on each platform. From a paid standpoint, I like studying the ads I’m served to better understand how other brands are using social ads. I find myself looking for ads in my Facebook news feed and puzzling out why each was served to me. (Tip: You, too, can find out why you were targeted on Facebook! Click the arrow in the top-right corner of the ad and select “Why am I seeing this?” From there, you can also manage your ad preferences to make sure Facebook knows what you are interested in, so you see relevant ads in the future).

Last but not least, DOING is the best way to learn about new opportunities in social media. Reading about new features is a great starting point, but following through and giving them a try allows for true understanding. For example, when Pinterest ads became available for small to mid-sized businesses, I gained access to the dashboard and executed a promoted pin myself right away. One of the nice things about implementing ads on a self-serve platform is that after you learn one, many are pretty similar. Of course, each has its own twist, so it’s important to dig in and explore!

It seems like every day there is something new in social media! Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn or Pinterest, keeping up with the latest trends is important. In the whirlwind world of social media, if you can’t keep up, you could find yourself two platforms behind.