Okay I whined about being overwhelmed by social media a while ago in my Social Media Overload post. One of the things that I learned from over 20 years in the military, if you are going to bitch about something, you also need to be able to find identify solutions.
So what solutions have I found to reduce my social media overload.
During lunch and supper, no electronics – except to answer the phone. This small change gives me a chance to read from a book and talk with TheWife more, instead of just looking at the screen for the next Twitter or Facebook comment, Google+ entry, new blog post to read, etc. Now I can safely ignore that little ding or pop-up that used to go off. Breakfast is when I go through and read my blogs, posts and comments and try to write my first post of the day, while I am still fresh.
Notifications – I have turned off all of the audible and visual notifications that have turned into the Pavlovian response of having to immediately check that social media site: to see what is going on, who made a new comment, etc.
It had gotten ridiculous how I just felt I need to “know” what was going on no matter what else was going on. This has helped tremendously in reducing my feelings of overload.
Twitter – I have gone in and pared down my “lists”. There were over 500 on my primary follow list and I had over 25 different #hashtags that I was trying to keep up with. These were simply just too many, after a lot of work, I got the primary follow list down to about 250 and my #hashtags to 7, which should make it easier to have more quality conversations with those who I engage with regularly.
Facebook – This is my hardest one – simply because I hate Facebook and its past attitude towards its users and looking at the recent Instagram Terms of Service flap (which no changes have come out to) those attitudes haven’t really changed. However, because I am a FitFluential Ambassador and it is the primary way that we communicate with one another is with Facebook Groups, I have to maintain a fairly high level of engagement there.
However, there were several groups that I was a part of that I no longer need to participate in, I was using them more to promote my blog or find out what was going on in the semi-local area. However, whenever I saw that little number beside the Group I had to go in and see the comment. I have gone from participating in 11 to 5 groups, which should improve my engagement in those groups.
I also went through and hid a lot of people who were in my stream, I was finding that I had so many people in my stream that I couldn’t keep up with my family, friends and former co-workers, which is why I really have kept a Facebook account.
I also went in and changed the notification settings, to receive fewer email notifications about Facebook posts. I really don’t need to get an email every time someone adds a link or comments on a post. I wish that Facebook could get granular enough to only email me when certain people post or comment. That would make for a lot fewer emails for me to discard.
Google+ – I really prefer the interface and conversations on Google +, unfortunately not enough of my family, friends or others are here yet. When Google recently opened up communities it opened up a whole new set of people to interact with who share my interests in healthy-living, running and my Chromebook. I had to pare back the number of communities from 13 to 5 and am thinking that I might just get rid of at least a few more.
Online running sites – To be honest I have only been on the edges of DailyMile and the social part of other running log websites like Nike+, RunKeeper, etc. Since I don’t really engage in these sites anymore, I have decided that I am going to delete my accounts over the next week. However, I am up in the air about whether I really want to start using the fairly new social side of Garmin Connect, since that has become my primary running log website – time will tell on that one. It really depends on how the other reductions work for me.
Google Reader – This is one of those ongoing things that I have to do every 6 months or so. I find great blogs and want to continue reading them and put them in my reader. This time I had 211 feeds in Google Reader and that is too many for me and I pared it back to under 70.
I haven’t time to do more than skim through the posts there and unless it is something that really interests me, I don’t fully read or comment on the posts, unless I pop them out of the reader and go to their blog.
I also tend to get a lot of duplicate links from my Facebook groups and Twitter feeds, so those that I normally would subscribe to in Google Reader, I have deleted since I get their feeds elsewhere.
LinkedIn – I gotta work on this one still, I haven’t figured out how I want to use this site, especially since I am not very active there now. To be honest, I think that this one is a very important social media platform for anyone to keep current, but with everything else going on, I have neglected LinkedIn and the opportunities it might have or bring me.
I haven’t even talked about YouTube, Pinterest, StumbleUpon, Digg, The Coast Guard Channel, Instagram, Flikr or other social media sites out there that all vie for time as well.
The reality was that
I was just trying to follow too many feeds and people, on too many social media platforms. Another problem was that I was receiving a great deal of duplicate information that I needed to process, which took time. Time that I just never seemed to have enough of.
My self-enforced social media “vacation” and purge is now mostly over. The social media feeds, friends, followers, circles are a lot leaner than they were, not quite as many duplicates (both incoming and outgoing – hopefully you won’t be seeing 5-6 Twitter duplicate posts on my new blog posts now).
If I have taken you off a Twitter list, hidden you in my Facebook stream, uncircled you from a circle or simply fell off the face of the earth in a different running or healthy-living website or online community, I didn’t do it to be a jerk or that I didn’t think that the information you were/are providing in those social media platforms wasn’t important or good.
It simply meant that we didn’t interact all that much and I needed to make choices about how much information I could reasonably process.
Hopefully, these changes will allow me to be more active in the online communities that I have chosen to remain in, which will in turn allow more quality conversations between us. Instead me feeling like I am simply using the platform as a broadcast avenue for my blogs – which was how I was starting to feel when I initially wrote about being on social media overload and was not the direction that I wanted to go.
I value the online friendships and people who I have met and will meet, I have a feeling though that I need to be a little slower and look closer at who and what I am adding to my social media networks in the future. Just to keep the conversations and information I receive, more pertinent to my interests and ability to follow.
Like the GREAT Twitter conversation I was having while writing this post with @Brod262, @nycrunningmama and @pmumbower (yes I was multi-tasking), it is all about finding the social media balance that works for you.
For me to use social media effectively and the way that I want to – means having less quantity, to have more quality.
What do you think? Are there other things that I can do to keep my social media habit under control?