Infobesity and the social media diet

By Dianne Bayley

While I’m highly animated about the remarkable ways in which we can communicate these days, I’m also starting to look at how much information we access daily, and where it all goes once my head is full. Probably to my hips . . .

For many, a typical day starts with switching on the TV or radio at the same time as the coffee machine. It’s not enough to be greeted with a blast of world news and three strangers in your bedroom hosting a morning show – they run tickertapes while everyone’s talking, just in case you miss a bush fire or some other tragedy you can mourn before you’ve had your first cup of coffee.

For those of us brave enough to turn our mobile phones off during the night, we fire them up at the same time as our computers and/or Tablets. Twelve different sound effects tell us there’s mail, some text messages, a WhatsApp or two, four Tweets and several posts on Facebook. Still without any caffeine in the system, we open and respond. We’ve become the most important (and knowledgeable) person on the planet . . . Also, our heads are about to explode.

Here are some tips to keep Type 2 Diatribe-etes, caused by Infobesity, from your life:

• If you are a social media consultant with several clients you run operations for, determine which three social media platforms work best for your client right now, and stick with them. Don’t be tempted to add extra platforms if you are getting the desired results from the social media platforms you’re already using. If something isn’t working anymore, shut it down before replacing it with another. Merely adding more and more platforms creates unmanageability.

• Firing off twelve Tweets in two minutes is a real drag for the people who follow you. Trust me – I’ve unfollowed many a Tweeter for filling my screen with Tweets, hashtags and their logo. I figure if they really have twelve different things to say, there are six more hours in the day. Be discriminating about your timing. (Oh, and . . . does anyone really care that you are having breakfast at McDonalds? Really?)

• Same goes for Facebook. Brands and businesses posting Winston Churchill quotes in between trying to get consumers to notice a new campaign or discuss issues just clutters things and makes the “unlike” button look attractive. Stay focused on why you have a Facebook presence and try not to use it like Twitter. Unless you are a news site and have promised your fans six or more bits of information a day, less is more.

• Review the information you’re putting out there daily. Is it helpful? Intriguing? Valuable? Does it target your demographic, or are you just talking for the sake of talking? (Remember how tedious it is to be in a room with someone who won’t shut up? Right.)

• Just as in the real world, take a break now and then and read rather than post. It’s the cyber equivalent of listening and can give you a better insight into what direction to take your campaign than merely bombarding users with more information. Encourage dialogue rather than monologue . . . people get tired of being “spoken at”, and social media is supposed to be just that – social.

It’s probably too late to get you to chill right now. You’ve already digested 300 bits of information, most of which you remember only a small portion of. Whether you’re a social media manager or just a social user, try cutting back on the amount of info you allow into your head tomorrow – and the amount you’re trying to get into someone else’s head. Respond where necessary; post where you like . . . but remember that guy who just won’t shut up and listen . . .

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