Overcoming Information Overload

Just take a look at the Twitter stream, Facebook news feed, YouTube uploads, Blog posts for a couple of minutes and you’ll see that in a very short period of time, regardless of the platform, an incredible amount of information is being created, consumed, traded and shared.

Add into that mix of bombardment, the information that you actually want in the form of RSS feeds, subscriptions and searches and that amount of information is compounded. In fact, in the video, “Social Media @ Work“, there is a quote that the average person receives more information in one issue of the New York Times than they received in a lifetime 100 years ago.  I’d argue, you can get that in 5 minutes using social media.

For your social media use, information can be used to:

  • educate
  • inform
  • raise awareness
  • support positions

When you use and search for the information you are looking for, you are curating content primarily for your own consumption (educate, support positions) or to share that content (all of the above).

Data Fog

Three Challenges

  1. Finding the information that you want.
  2. Providing information that can be used.
  3. Staying power of your information

Finding – there are multiple ways to find information that you are looking for.  Search, feeds, subscriptions, keywords will always play a role in you being able to find the content that you are looking for to assist you in sharing great information (content).

Providing – Not all the content you curate will be sharable for many reasons.  Geographical challenges, bias, wrong groups to associate with, etc, may all hamper the pure sharing. But, if there is information within the content you found that is valuable then re-frame it, take the pieces you can use out and make it work for your needs. Creating content is a great way to share your information, although more time consuming, it tailor made.


How do you take a great message, campaign or post and make it last in an environment that has caused the everyday person to achieve the attention span of a gnat?

You have to make it great content that is sharable.  You have to make it timely so that it isn’t just for the now, but also for the future and you have to make it ‘high value’.

I don’t expect that a “Good Morning” message will be shared and receive lots of comments, although surprisingly they do.  I do expect that a message of life saving value should be shared.  You want to get that ‘high value’ message shared?  Ensure that the value is on the end user…your audience.

Your audience won’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.  Show them you care by always making them the priority and they’ll not only appreciate the information more, but they will share it.  Don’t just throw it out once, push the information a few times over a couple of days.  Your audience that is present and their attention is always changing so don’t worry about spamming them.

Remember that everyone out there in the social space that isn’t refining the information attack is going to suffer from some degree of overload.  You need to combat that with making sure that the information / content you provide is great and worth taking a look at and it isn’t just adding to the noise.

You can also use tips to assist in ensuring the information is sharable. Here are some Twitter Tips for getting re-tweeted.

8 Tips Overcome Overload

  1. Refine your searches to get exactly what you are looking for.
  2. Subscribe to information streams that you are interested in.
  3. Don’t subscribe in a reader service and email.
  4. Create lists on Twitter.
  5. Subscribe to lists on Twitter.
  6. Subscribe to particular feeds on Facebook.
  7. Create Interest Lists on Facebook.
  8. Un-subscribe to anything you haven’t looked at in a week or more.



About Tim Burrows

Tim Burrows was a sworn police officer for 25 years with experience in front line operations, primary response, traffic, detective operations and supervision. He has training in a broad spectrum of policing responsibilities including, IMS, Emergency Management, computer assisted technology investigations, leadership, community policing and crisis communications. Tim is available to assist you with your social media program and communication. Click here to contact him http://bit.ly/ContactTimBurrows
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