It’s Not Information Overload When You Can Control It.

This is a cross-blog post from Network Solution’s Solutions Are Power website that I guest wrote. Originally posted on SolutionsArePower.com on May 7, 2009.

One of the most common issues surrounding social media these days is trouble we’re having getting our message across through the noise. Everyone is online using sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Flickr or even participating in various social programs like bookmarking, blogging, etc.

So just how can we break through it all and help avoid what Louis Gray terms “information overload”? It’s simple. Filter what information you want. By using the right tools available to you online, you can easily monitor any mention about your company or brand online and still be actively engaged in the conversation online. Stop trying to work constantly 24/7 just to keep track of things. There Is No Information Overload (Inbound Marketing Summit)

At the most recent Inbound Marketing Summit here in San Francisco, Louis Gray, a corporate marketer working in Silicon Valley with experience in public relations, demand generation & content creation, presented his latest talk on “There Is No Information Overload: Finding a Signal in the Noise“.

If you’re in marketing, you’ll know that your boss or stakeholders expect that if you use social media, you’re aware of everything that’s going on and being said about your company or product. You’re expected to be on 24/7/365 and you’re also too busy to constantly monitor it. So what can you do about it?

Gray says that you should simply let the web do the work for you, specifically:

  • Use Google news alert to get pinged when someone mentions you online.
  • Track mentions on Twitter through email.
  • Subscribe to services like Backtype that will monitor when people mention you in comments.
  • Use an aggregator like FriendFeed to observe what’s going on in the world of search & social media.

But while you’re monitoring what’s happening on the Internet, eventually you may find that you’re being swamped with a multitude of RSS feeds, email pings, and other notifications that will flood you and occupy your time so you’re not able to effectively do your job. So just how can we overcome this mess and simplify our life online? Just look at what information is coming in. If it’s an RSS feed, how often do you look at it? Remove those that don’t really affect your life, work, company, or product. Gray suggests that you take a look at the individuals who are trusted in your market and “always be listening”. Learn to skim through everything. If it’s not immediately relevant, then pass and move on. You can’t be wasting precious time.

Perhaps the best way to think about this is to learn how to prioritize and filter the information that is presented to you. I think I like how Louis Gray put it: make sure you leverage trusted discovery tools. The Internet has become a pretty populated place, but while there is a lot of information, people have helped create tools to help in mapping out where information is for you. Don’t miss out and if you do find yourself drowning in information, feel free to unsubscribe from receiving it. You’re not obligated to continue to receive the information if it’s not relevant.

So as Louis Gray puts it so succinctly: you own the data. Own the process.

Find the presentation given by Louis Gray here and you can learn more about Louis Gray on his blog.

By Ken Yeung

Ken Yeung is a journalist fascinated with the stories of the tech industry and internet culture. He's currently the Technology Editor at Flipboard, where he observes what's happening in the space while also identifying new topics of interest. In addition, he co-hosts the weekly internet show "The Created Economy," which focuses on what's happening to creators and influencers. Previously, he was a reporter for VentureBeat and The Next Web, covering tech startups, the industry's innovations and funding. Ken also has a newsletter you should also subscribe to called "Filed."