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Managing Keeping up with constant change online: The 'Harlem Shake' craze lesson

If nothing else, The 'Harlem Shake' craze reminded me of the significance of immediacy in our lives today, especially when it comes to social media.

In a matter of days, an Internet meme dubbed the 'Harlem Shake' made its way around the world. It has earned thousands of remakes and more than 44 million views. To put it into perspective, on Feb. 2, there were no Harlem Shake videos uploaded to YouTube; by Feb. 11, there were more than 4,000 videos uploaded per day.

Social media and the Internet make everything happen faster. We've reached a point of constant change online, and keeping up requires strategy. With information moving quickly and updates coming constantly, staying current can be challenging.

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How can businesses, especially smaller ones with limited resources, keep up?

Here are few tips to help you stay on top:

Be prepared

Depending on your business, preparation can mean a variety of things. It can range from finding the right agency partners to work with to managing a calendar of national, global or local events throughout the year to leveraging opportunities as they happen.

During the Super Bowl last month, Oreo proved its expertise in preparation and demonstrated how businesses can benefit from a little spontaneity.

To prepare for the internationally televised event, Oreo set up a " mission control " centre at its office. Realizing there was potential for a real-time marketing opportunity, the brand kept its team together during the event so that approvals and publishing could happen fast.

It paid off. Oreo's real-time response on Twitter to the Super Bowl blackout earned 16,000 retweets and 6,100 favourites on Twitter.

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Nobody could have predicted the Super Bowl power outage, but anyone can prepare for an unexpected opportunity by having a team on standby during a live, global event.

Choose the right social media channels to use

There seems to be an endless supply of social media platforms to choose from these days. The thought of trying to maintain a presence on all of them can be daunting, especially for smaller businesses.

Be strategic when selecting which social channels to invest your time in. Having a quality presence on a few platforms is more valuable than having a mediocre presence on a lot. This way, you can stay current without feeling overwhelmed. Considering where your target audience spends most of their time is a good place to start.

You can also increase control of your message by using specific platforms for specific purposes. For example, you can leverage Twitter to demonstrate thought leadership and use Facebook to promote your company's work culture. This helps to organize information and segment your audience, allowing you to distribute current and relevant information to your followers.

Choose the right social media channels to follow

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Just as the thought of managing all the social media channels can be daunting, so, too, can the thought of following them. Be strategic when selecting who and what to follow online. Avoid bombarding yourself with information and, instead, follow sources that provide content relevant to your business.

You can also use tools such as Feedly , Google Reader and Flipboard to curate your newsfeeds. Pocket is another great tool that helps manage time by syncing to other devices, integrating to your Twitter account and saving links so you can read them later.

Sharing articles relevant to your business is as important as reading them. Follow channels that provide content you find interesting so that you can share it with your followers. This will help to legitimize you or your business by proving you are current and reading up on the most relevant topics.

Staying current is important for any business. It demonstrates leadership and expertise, but it doesn't need to be overwhelming. Recognize potential opportunities, and be prepared to act fast and take advantage of them  when they arise.

Special to The Globe and Mail

Mia Pearson is the co-founder of North Strategic. She has more than two decades of experience in creating and growing communications agencies, and her experience spans many sectors, including financial, technology, consumer and lifestyle.

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Join The Globe's Small Business LinkedIn group to network with other entrepreneurs and to discuss topical issues: http://linkd.in/jWWdzT

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