I check KnowEm, a site to track the availability of user names across social media applications, frequently to see how many social media websites they tout. The current number is "more than 350." A little more than a year ago when I discovered an earlier incarnation of the website, the number of social media applications listed was closer to 100.

That's incredible growth, making it challenging to keep up, even if you're immersed in social media.

What can you do to stay current on social media if it's not your full time gig?

Here are two strategies to use:

  • Make sure you have strategic teammates very immersed in social media, i.e. they're constantly staying on top of even more new social media applications and what they're used for than you are. Ask them questions and let them guide and keep you informed on the latest innovations.
  • Pick out a new social media application from one of the fifteen social media categories on KnowEm, sign up, and spend the next week or two gaining some familiarity with it. When you feel like you've got a sense of that social media application, strategically select another one from a different category to try.

I put these two ideas together last week to pick up from Nate Riggs' advocacy for location-based applications and finally forced myself to try Foursquare more aggressively. Doing so led to insights about the value and related opportunities of Foursquare, thoughts on the potential challenges of motivating participation, and interestingly, mayorship of three churches - guess that says a lot about where I spend my time!

At one new social media application every week or two you're not going to wind up trying all of them. But really, the more important point is to have a current sense of what's out there. Pick out your new social media application to try, and while you're at it, don't hesitate to let me know what my next one to try should be! - Mike Brown