Gartner Blog Network

Handling Information Overload

by Scott Nelson  |  October 26, 2009  |  2 Comments

As I have been talking to many firms about their social networking strategy, a problem often comes up in the conversation that is more personal to the people involved. As they are, correctly, exploring the social media themselves, they begin to feel the effects of information overload and want to know how they should handle it.

I do not pretend I know all the answers on this subject. But I think it is something that all of us that play or work on line tend to feel at one point or another. And I know if my case, I have found a couple ways to deal with it.

1. First, and most important, come to grips with the fact that there is information that yes, indeed, you will miss. I find that one of the problems is that people continue to feel information overload because they are fearful that they are missing something. You are. But you know what? It is OK. Life will go on. Important information as a way of coming back to you and you will likely find it.

2. Much of the information you are worried about is not information at all. It is fluff. Not every tweet, every link, every status update is gold. Let them pass by. Again, the important information has a way of coming back to you.

3. Use tools to help. I like Seesmic Desktop and Digsby as two tools that work for me. They do not organize the info, but they alert me as I am working so that I know what is popping up on sites I follow. That allows me to respond to what I need/want to, and ignore the rest. Helping with point #1, above. There are lots of good tools out there to use. Some like to use Tweetdeck for managing Twitter. This allows tweets from people you might care more about (family or coworkers for example) to be seperated out from all the others. Look around and try some tools that work for you.

4. Develop a strategy for personal and business use of social media. Many people have allowed their Facebook and Twitter accounts to grow haphazardly. The result is that they have mixed their personal and business contacts. This may make it difficult to stay on top of messages that you really care about. As many of the sites add the ability to create user lists this may get easier. But even before that there are thinks to do. My colleage Ray Valdes has some interest ideas of this in many of his blogs and writing.

5. Find the social networking sites that you like and that work for you, and stay with those. One of the problems I find is that some users are experimenting with 4, 5 and 6 different sites. That makes it very had to stay on each and learn how applicable they may each be for your firm. Pick one or two and concentrate.

If you are reasonable, you can handle the information overload out there. Remember, it is not going to go away on it’s own…it will only get worse. Have a strategy now.

Thoughts on other ways to address this problem? I have several clients that would appreciate the ideas.

Additional Resources

View Free, Relevant Gartner Research

Gartner's research helps you cut through the complexity and deliver the knowledge you need to make the right decisions quickly, and with confidence.

Read Free Gartner Research

Category: social-media-strategy  

Tags: information-overload  social-media  

Scott D. Nelson
Managing VP
12 years at Gartner
18 years IT industry

Scott Nelson is a managing vice president in Gartner Research. He is responsible for managing research in the area of CRM. His particular research focuses on CRM vision and strategy.

Thoughts on Handling Information Overload

  1. John Pruitt says:

    I let my facebook go business as well as personal but through the use of multiple lists I can track my friends, family, business contacts and hot column. Much like Tweetdeck’s multiple columns allow me to catch a lot of what I’m looking for, multiple feeds on facebook are a must for anyone over 200 friends.

Comments are closed

Comments or opinions expressed on this blog are those of the individual contributors only, and do not necessarily represent the views of Gartner, Inc. or its management. Readers may copy and redistribute blog postings on other blogs, or otherwise for private, non-commercial or journalistic purposes, with attribution to Gartner. This content may not be used for any other purposes in any other formats or media. The content on this blog is provided on an "as-is" basis. Gartner shall not be liable for any damages whatsoever arising out of the content or use of this blog.