Social Media Breakfast 14: Social Media Overload

By Michael Fearon

Overload. In this summer’s Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Overload is a red dump truck that forms the evil Decepticon Devastator. In the trucking community, an overloaded truck will catch Smokey’s eye and net you a date at the chicken coop (weigh station). The standard dictionary definition describes overload (for you non-truckers and sci-fi haters) as an excessive load. Whether you relate with overload through robots, trucks or dictionaries, you can easily come to the conclusion that it is something to be avoided.

This brings us to last week’s Social Media Breakfast 14: Social Media Overload: Making Sense of it All. Media and Internet overload has been a discussion for as long as I can remember the Web. Before Tom was your first MySpace buddy or the first song you “shared” on Napster, pundits were already talking about an information overload. The first time I probably took notice was around the time that many people thought AOL was the Internet and I never gave it much thought until “SMB14” when Bob Collins (@RobertCollins on Twitter) quoted a few stats including: “There will be an estimated 250,000 different Social Networks by 2010.” (I wanted to include something about the printing press here, but Clay Shirky beat me to it during last year’s Web 2.0 Expo keynote: “It’s Not Information Overload. It’s Filter Failure.”)

SMB 14

Bob Collins makes a point at SMB14

The event made me reflect on the three networks that I’m somewhat active in and thought how could I possibly find the time to take on before my head goes nuclear? How can I effectively engage multiple networks without become a cellar dweller in my parent’s basement? SMB14 speakers fearlessly tackled the questions that are overloading your social media soul. Michael Durwin’s presentation on the yet-to-be released displayed a tool that will definitely help filter the overload and Marta Kagan’s “Friends don’t let friends suffer from social media overload” provides an excellent tips for a clean sweep of your social media clutter.

As communications professionals we’re at a high risk for an overload – it comes with the territory, but you’ve got to know when to say when. Marta’s example of hitting rock bottom involved, “blogging at 3am in your bathrobe, retweeting Ashton Kutcher and mumbling about a ‘poke’ war you’ll never win.” My humble advice to curtail overload and avoid Ashton is to assess the tools and outlets that make sense for you personally and professionally, then engage with the platforms and content that give you the most fulfillment (that’s social media ROI).

So if you were up into the wee hours of the night buzzing about a certain reality television divorce perhaps it’s time to pull off I-Web 2.0 and into the social media chicken coop for a weigh-in. When you get off the scales, ain’t nothing gonna get in your way – we’ll roll this social convoy cross the U-S-A!

With that I’ll leave you with two questions: What are you doing to fight social media overload? Have you or someone you love been caught Tweeting all alone in a dark room? No situation is too creepy – you’re among friends and I’m not here to judge. Thanks for sharing!

3 Responses to “Social Media Breakfast 14: Social Media Overload”

  1. 1 Meghan Beattie June 29, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    Chris Brogan two years ago saw this overload beginning. He blogged what he called a “Rule of Three” which encouraged us all to stick to just three engines but be updating always. Three is a much more manageable number to work with than 250,000. I’ve also gone to many sites to “claim” my profile or user name but have not updated so that when they’ve either developed into a service I may be more interested in or when they get more financial backing to compete with the FBs and Twitters of the world, I’ll have my profile ready.

    In terms of dark nights Tweeting alone… it happens to the best of us. I always think about the movie The Net with Sandra Bullock. As long as I have a strong handful of people who can vouch that I’m Meghan Beattie – I can Tweet all the live long day. haha.

  2. 3 Ding July 1, 2009 at 8:37 pm

    When it comes to technology, I’m an 67 year-old man trapped in a 29 year-old’s body. For the most part, I just don’t get it. So, the only time I ever really feel overwhelmed by social networking is when I can’t wrap my head around it. Meaning, I just know there are a slew of tools out there I’m completely ignoring to make my life on the internet easier, but I don’t know how to find them or use them. Ipso facto, I end up sticking to Facebook and online poker for my media outlets, and use the rest of my time attempting (and usually failing) actual human contact. So far my ignorance seems to work in my favor.

    To answer the second part, I’ve never Tweeted, but I can admit feeling some shame when I threw down my 12th can of Pabst, finished my 20th game of poker, and watched the sun rise all at the same time.

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