In my social media strategy presentation, I used to open with a slide about suffering from Social Media Obsessive Compulsive Disorder 2.0, i.e. never seeing a social network I wouldn’t join. Fortunately, the need to build The Brainzooming Group business coupled with sleep and creative energy limitations have curbed my personal case of social media information overload.

And by “curbed,” I mean “slowed…somewhat.”

The other day, I followed a tweet to a cartoon video blog post illustrating the anxiety caused by expectations of always being online and accessible via email and every other known social network. The cartoon wasn’t very compelling, but I left a comment nonetheless…because I haven’t been doing enough commenting on other blogs lately.

See what I mean? There’s always an opportunity for a relapse.

The post got me thinking, however, about what strategies have helped me feel a little bit better in dealing with the reality I can’t be meaningfully active in every social network:

  • Come to grips with the fact there is information (even really cool information) being tweeted and posted which you’ll never consume. I know it’s scary, but get over it. It just is.
  • You won’t know the most current details about every topic someone asks you about. Get really good at replying to questions about an unfamiliar topic by firing back with a question of your own.
  • Scads of fringe social networks getting lots of hype will go away before you ever figure out why you’d need to know about them. They’ll be replaced by other social networks. Maybe start paying attention to the social networks appearing after that.
  • Replace “social networks” with “news” and “them” and “they” with “it” in the previous bullet point. The statement’s still true, isn’t it?
  • Invest a majority of your learning time becoming world-class at how to find information, how to learn, and how to process information topics. Use these killer skills when you really need to go deep on a topic.
  • Invest lots of your networking time creating a diverse group of individuals to keep you informed on detailed (yet relevant) topics you can’t possibly follow yourself. Ask them lots of questions – on a “when you really need to know it” basis.
  • Lots of people know much less than you may give them credit for. Surprised? Don’t be. They’re dealing with the same anxieties about information overload you are. Quit angsting about your own information capacity limitations.
  • Ask people you trust what tools they use to cope with too much information. Far better to let others be the guinea pigs for the latest apps.
  • Social media metrics and follower counts aren’t linked to your worth as a person. Enough said.

Those are my nine.

Now let me ask you a question – what are your strategies for coping with your own social media and information obsessions? – Mike Brown

The Brainzooming Group helps make smart organizations more successful by rapidly expanding their strategic options and creating innovative plans they can efficiently implement. Email us at [email protected] or call 816-509-5320 to learn how we’ve developed  integrated social media strategy for other brands and can do the same for yours.

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Mike Brown

Founder of The Brainzooming Group, and an expert on strategy, creativity, and innovation. Mike is a frequent speaker on innovation, strategic thinking, and social media.

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18 Responses to “9 Strategies to Curb Social Media Information Overload”

  1. Mike, like you, I used to find myself spending too much time on Social Media, when I needed to put my energies elsewhere. Somehow there is an addictive appeal that draws you in and can also distract you throughout the day. I now myself short spaces to peek and and when I see articles helpful to what I’m interested in, I bookmark these. Then I can read without interruption and do more creating, which I find ultra important to push the work I do forward.

    Thanks for a very thoughtful article.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Your idea of having distinct periods is a great one Robyn. My productivity challenges do seem to come when Tweetdeck is running in the background, which creates an attractive nuisance when I hit a pause point on whatever else I’m working on. Rather than staying focused, it’s as if Twitter becomes an unrelated point for my attention to wander toward. It really does take shutting off Twitter much of the time to really get work done.

  2. Cheri says:

    I really appreciated this post, Mike. I find myself struggling to keep up with it *all.* Reading everything in my daily feeds is a full time job in and of itself. So your points are well taken and help redirect my efforts & hopefully make me more efficient in what I do follow and read.

    • Mike Brown says:

      Thanks for commenting Cheri!

      It’s so tough to let some seemingly important information go past you without trying to consume it.

      Some of my thinking on this was influenced by Ted Williams, the great baseball player. He was a huge advocate of “taking,” i.e. not swinging at, pitches a batter couldn’t expect to successfully hit. That meant he’d let pitches go by, even if they were strikes, which he’d struggle to hit. For me, it’s been helpful to think about social media/online content as the pitches. The trick then is picking out the rights ones to not swing at.

  3. Karen says:

    Good post! I agree, it’s very easy to get stressed by the neverending flood of social media. I must confess I was one of those people that got wound around my number of Twitter followers, but am not so obsessed these days. If people like what I have to say, they’ll tune in. I’m not for everyone, don’t want to be.

    I like to know what some of the new sites are, but have decided not to join every one. If it seems that it would be beneficial for my business I’ll check it out, but if I don’t see a practical application I move on.

    • Mike Brown says:

      There’s only so many places you can be active Karen. The idea of creating a little landing place on multiple social networks might be a way to go. Get a presence that points back to the sites where you really are investing your time and effort.

  4. Social Media Overload…? It’s all in this animation. I’m not spamming you just holding up a mirror. Hilarious or frightening?


    • Mike Brown says:

      This is the video I linked to in the article Allen. The animation does an okay job of illustrating the problem. Now, it’s all about figuring out what to do about it!

  5. Sheree Johnson says:

    Mike, good post. The way I’ve been managing Social Media Information of late is to just look at the key lists I’ve created of people I want to follow, or need to follow on Twitter; then I have Facebook organized by Family, co-workers, etc. So if I don’t have time, I just check the key lists to scan their various posts/comments. And then I don’t worry about what else I’ve missed. I will do a broader sweep of information a couple of times throughout the week. Always enjoy your posts/comments!

  6. Amy says:

    I replaced some less the productive TV time with my iPad and time connecting with meaningful people that create terrific content…I find it important to treat social media like an interactive research library that you set high standards in targeting your reading and input … You’ve been a great part of this for me since I joined Twitter…


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