Tuesday, May 9, 2017

Don’t run away, filter for value

A common complaint today, especially in IT, is that it is impossible to keep. The premise is that there is simply too much information to stay abreast of. I am also seeing a growing number of people saying they are ‘quitting’ social media like Facebook because of all the ‘junk’ there. I, on the other hand, am finding huge value from social media, in fact, more and more so from Facebook. Let me show you how I manage that.

Firstly, I have to agree that there is a huge amount of irrelevant drivel on social media BUT you are the one who chooses to consume it. You don’t have to! You are seeing all that irrelevant stuff simply because you have accepted the defaults and have not learnt how to effectively use the social media platforms.

I think this speech by Clay ShirkyIt’s not information overload, it’s filter failure goes a log way to explaining why so many people are becoming overloaded with information. In short, it’s because they are allowing themselves to be. They have failed to implement appropriate filters to remove the stuff that is irrelevant.

Why have people largely failed to do this? The most common reason is FOMO or Fear Of Missing Out. To really get on top of your information consumption you need to abandon this concept and appreciate that you may indeed miss something but if you put the right information consumption practices in place the chances of doing so are extremely low.

Once you have abandoned FOMO, then you need to determine the BEST sources of information for you. In the context of business or technology, this means finding information sources that provide you the greatest return on investment for your time. If their value is not high enough then you need to abandon them, without regret.

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What’s the difference between my Twitter account and this one say?

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Look at how few people I currently follow. Just 18! I only chose to follow high quality information sources and those that I do I consume fully, in that I read every one of their tweets. I have no idea how people can get value from following hundreds or even thousands of people.

Does the Twitter accounts I follow ever vary? Of course it does. I’m constantly adding and removing sources but I have a very high bar to follow an account. It really needs to provide me with information I’m unlikely to get elsewhere. This brings me to another best practice recommendation I have when it comes to social media. Have a separate business and personal account. Lumping everything together is going to generate twice the traffic from very two very different sources. Having two accounts also provides separation when it comes to posting and contributing also.

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I am no fan of Facebook, however I recognise the value it has to my business. That’s why I’m there and why I’m using it more and more. However, like Twitter, I highly customise what I see by “unfollowing” low value information sources. Doing so, as you can see above, keeps them as a friend so they see my stuff but I don’t see theirs. Sure, they could do the same to me but firstly, most people generally don’t mute like I’m doing here and secondly, I’m aiming to make my social media content as high as possible so they stay tuned in.

Of course, I have had personal contacts find my business account on Facebook and complain that I only talk about “boring” IT. Right on! Because of the separation of business and personal accounts, my business account is aimed at business users and has content aimed at them not at personal contacts. If you try and be everything to everybody then you are nothing to nobody.

So, if you are “suffering” from information overload it’s time to go on a diet. Become ruthless with exactly what information you consume. If it has no value then DON’T consume it! That’s why I don’t consume a single hour of commercial TV or radio for example. If something doesn’t measure don’t hesitate to remove it and replace it with something better. Get those filters in place and working. Remember, your time is the most valuable commodity you have. Therefore treat it like it is actually valuable!