You may love social media, but even the biggest fans of the social web will find some sources of frustration. What is your social media pain point? I thought I’d explore some of the main ones I’ve identified and offer up some potential solutions.
1. Managing Your Profile and Reputation
So many networks, so many different audiences and connections. Maybe you’re feeling like you have split personalities: being professional on LinkedIn, running at the mouth on Twitter, then letting your hair down on Facebook. But wait! You forgot that you’re connected with your boss or your client on Facebook. Panic ensues. Or what if someone is Googling your name before interviewing you for a job. What will they find? Over the last 10 years, we’ve all learned some tough lessons about what it means to be digital.
Solution: Reduce the number of networks you use. Keep your work and personal networks separate. Create a “universal” profile to help clear up the clutter. About.me lets you display an attractive, social-media integrated profile. Gist encourages you to claim your public profile so everyone using their application sees consistent information for you. I blogged about the company recently.
2. Privacy Issues and Protecting Your Identity
Are you feeling squeamish about what personal data is floating out there in the ether about you? You may not even realize how complicit you’ve been in releasing this information, from emailing your credit card information because it was quick and easy, to uploading a photo to Flickr with a geotag that reveals the exact location of your home. So what can you do about it?
Solution: Get smart and help educate others about privacy issues. Be smarter about what you reveal and how and when you reveal it. Opt out of automated features on social networks and take the time to manually configure your privacy settings to a more conservative setting. Companies like Reputation.com are popping up to rescue us from our accidental over-sharing.
3. Curating Information and Coping with Information Overload
RSS feeds, Twitterstreams, news feeds… when will it end? We continue to open the floodgates to more and more information, desperately seeking tools to help us parse, filter, slice, dice, and otherwise funnel information into our already overloaded brains.
Solution: My advice? Stop your addiction to data; go cold turkey. Pare down and eliminate. You do not need to know everything, and trying is an effort in futility. Identify no more than a handful of blogs or information sources that give you a solid cross-section of the information you need. Trust the curators whose job it is to be human filters of the information that interests you or that pertains to your work. Count what you’re consuming like you count calories: No more than five sources. Can you do it? And what about your Twitterstream? Focus more on your interactions with others than the never-ending stream of information. Create heavily curated Twitter lists based around specific areas of interest to zero in on more important information, then peruse them occasionally to get a quick fix. Use these lists sparingly and stop immediately if you find yourself getting sucked back into the datastream.
4. Keeping Up With New Tech Developments
You’re human. You can’t keep up all the latest technology development or the myriad of continuous changes to the tech you’re already using. Every week, Facebook offers new features and interface tweaks.
Solution: So what do you do if you want to at least understand where things are going? I’d go back to my suggestion to identify trusted curators, such as bloggers and news sources that are devoted to explaining what is current and keeping an eye on what’s next. Then go back and review #3 above in order to keep your data consumption under control.
5. Organizing Your Digital Files and Data
Our digital ephemera is everywhere, and we are generating data more rapidly than ever before. Our files are hard to organize and hard to find. I’ve come to rely on my computer’s search function to find files because I can’t file them away in neat little folders fast enough any more. Online, I rely on Google to find thing because I find that I have too many tools, sites and apps to help me tuck away data that I can no longer find posts or articles when I need them — did I save it with Delicious? Instapaper? How can you better organize the files and content you want to save and access again in the future?
Solution: Find the handful of tools that help you monitor, manage, curate, archive and organize your data. From Hootsuite for monitoring and managing your accounts to tools such as Scoop.it and Pearltrees to archive, organize and share articles and blog posts, there are tools and applications out there created specifically to relieve your social media pain. Dropbox might be an answer for your files. New sites like Gogobeans offer to bring all your digital “stuff” into one place to help you manage it and manage who sees it. Once you find the one that works for you, use it regularly and learn to use it well.
6. Finding the Time to Deal with Social Media
Yes, dealing with social media takes time. How much time? I blogged about it here.
Solution: See #3-#5 above.
If you’re experiencing social media pain, step back and look for ways to pare down and simplify. Narrow down your trusted sources of information. Resist the temptation to get caught up in data frenzy. Leverage technology tools that help you ease the pain.
What is your social media pain point? Let us know in the poll above and discuss it below.