Thursday, February 24, 2011

#Business - Regarding How to Avoid Social Media Overload

About two weeks ago, I read an article by Dorie Clark in the Huffington Post called "How to Avoid Social Media Overload." Her article and that kind of writing want to act as a throttling measure against the speed at which we are now communicating. Do you think we need to slow down? Even if you think this, its not going to happen. We've been building up this speed for a long time. There's no going back. Unless energy reserves run out and Off-line is forced upon us. But Dorie might just have well titled her article "I Can't Do the Computer!"

I'm a child of the Information Age (born last year of Gen X) so picking up the new speed might be an easier affair for me at the outset than, say, my mom. And I admit, getting the groove on in spite of the wonderful spells we cast on each other throughout the SMscape is a little daunting at first. But what form of communication isn't? Took you a little while to develop conversational proficiency with your first and second language, right? What about something slightly less obvious, like those typing skills you had to learn. That took a little getting used to, but now you're humming along at, what, at least 60 WPM, yes? No more search and peck for you.

Learning is in the doing
. Your mind adapts to the stimuli you allow it to have,  and you respond more and more efficiently and effectively. You just need to allow yourself the exposure and encourage yourself with the understanding that you will improve. Perhaps you are feeling jaded or maxed out. Truly though, there is no end to how far you can develop if you just continue. Even the greatest living pianists in the world shave time off their chromatic scales if they continue to practice. Even the top 1% of us get better and better--Excelsior is the key.

Chopin - Ballade No. 4, Op. 52 (Rubinstein)

Keeping Up: The Results are Transparent
The outset might seem overloading, but truly it is not. Especially if you tell yourself that you can handle it. Because you can. If it couldn't be handled it wouldn't be moving that fast. The answer is not to throttle down. The answer is to buck up. 21st C Baby! Live it!

I've written a response to the Dorie's 4 points. I think she's dead wrong--and advocating from such a platform! I don't think she actually does what she's talking about, there's a "I haven't spent a day in that life yet" subtext-admission. And I think she's pandering. And the folks she's pandering to are not being helped by her advice. If you are a Dorie Clark lover, I'm not taking this shot without good reason. Her advice is unsound. So here's some counter advice from the God Bolt.

These are the four topics her advice falls under:
  1. Don't be an early Adopter
  2. Sample Widely
  3. Focus Narrowly
  4. Schedule the Time

Here's my rebutal:

1) Don't Be An Early Adopter

So as not to waste time? Choose your mentality wisely. Waste Not, Want Not is a Proverb. Don't create waste means also, don't see things for the waste of time they could be, see the value of time they are.

Identify Determines Interaction
Yes, suppliers can get just as excited as demanders and flood the market with extra stuff, sure. And should everyone know everything about everything? I think yes---but only after we've had a chance to be immortal and then only after, like maybe, a million years. In the meanwhile, no. Not everyone should have to worry about knowing everything about everything. But if its stuff that relates to what you do everyday--shouldn't you take note of it? You don't need to roll-out a new system every month. But you should probably take note one new system every month. It is virtuous if demanders and suppliers communicate with each other not just through dollars. The product and the market will improve.

Developers Didn't Got to School for Nothing
Suppliers/developers are inventors who lock away in the workshop and then burst out when they've made something they think you will like. Waste not their energies. Have a look. Be discerning. Offer feedback. Try or don't try. Buy or don't buy. But engage the developers of technology that affect your segment of the market. Recognize it to be a conversation, a dialogue--and be present for it, for them, and for yourself.

If you are passionate about what you do and consider yourself relevant, you'll look differently about yourself when engaging suppliers/developers. You'll realize you can take a leadership role, if necessary: a partnership role. Dorie's telling you to let someone else be a pioneer. Let someone else be a breacher. Her advice stems from the idea that you can't handle the overload. That you're tired. That its too much for you. Are you okay with that pandering?

Tip on Target
I'm saying this: let others be the pioneers and breachers when you are an infant, a child, a young person---before you come of age. But now that you have come of age, OWN THIS WORLD. Own what you do. Rest you're bones only when you are dead. Because you should be so damn happy that you are not. And happy that you have something you like to do while you are alive. Engage your counterparts in your segment of the market. Developers are some of these counterparts. Anyone who works beside you in your market is your partner. You don't have to call it being an early adopter--call it dancing with your partner. Whatever you call it, don't let Dorie-Clarkishness throttle you.

2) Sample Widely

Trying to work with you here, Dorie. Just a point of scientific method: Counting all the blades of grass on a football field is really only a 1 square foot concern. If you highly focus on 1 square foot of grass blades, then you have a very good understanding of 300 hundred square feet of field. That's the science of it. Now for a little attitude.

Don't let yourself be fine with sample knowledge only! Be more than a mere consumer of goods. Be the piston that drives production. Be the diamond tip that breaks through the barriers. Be an intergral part of the advance. Take Gladwell's 10,000 rule to heart and run with it. Pretend these tools are God-given, they nearly are. Use them. Again, its not like you are using something that has nothing to do with you. Its your segment of the market. Own it.

Good Citizens Give and Get Thumbs Up
New age tech is more than ever democratically testable. Be its good citizen, participate. Work the tools till your eyes and fingers bleed. When you know one tool is worthless, throw it forcefully to ground. Let the developer know. If they are silent. Climb your Twitter tree and shout outloud with force enough to incite the developer-superego to mortification. They must do better next time.

Passion: Life Depends On It
Technology isn't the hors d'huerves tray. We deservice ourselves to think so. The right attitude is to liken a selection of technology to choosing your gladiatorial armament. Gladiators fought for freedom. Freedom is what you are fighting for with these tools. Fight with fervor, you've sampled long enough. And ignore that wrinkled old emperor who knows nothing about the colliseum he inherited.

3) Focus Narrowly

Future is Now: Get In
If we were in the age when someone had just invented the in-ground swimming pool, Dorie Clark would be the one saying "Learn how to swim before using the in-ground swimming pool." One impression I get from Dorie that I question: she advocates studying up on social media BEFORE trying it? Someone hands you a DeLorean time machine suped with a flex capacitor and a whole case of plutonium. Are you really going to the library first to research Byzantium, the Chi'in dynasty, or thumb through Asimov before punching the dates, downing the vertical door and getting your lucky hide up to 88-miles per hour and into that great given beyond?

Its not like social media evolved on another planet and then was just dropped here out of no where. Everyone EVERYONE is ready for social media. No need to study the highlights. Jump right in. Learning is in the doing. The folks you meet will teach you. And you will teach them.

The second impression I get is that she advocates being a content specialist., and by this she advocates picking one medium and leaving the others behind. If you are small business or your business is individually operated and you can't afford to create dedicated positions for specific functions, well, you can't quit! You will need to press your time management skills for more juice. Because Social Media is not blogging. Is not Twitter. Is not Facebook or Linked-in or You-Tube. 

Social Media is overlapping methods of communication across diverse planes of existence. You have your word people. Your music people. Your painting people. Your video people. Why would you pick only one communication medium when it requires only a few extra steps to bring in and overlap, not just multiple media, but media media prospects?

Take a Page from a Successful Playbook
Look at the history of the Catholic Church, for a tried-true example, and how well it has done for nearly 2000 years utilizing Words, Images, Music, and lately Video to deliver its message. We talk about evangelizing often in the SMscape. If you believe in your product or service, you will feel natural in the act and art of evangelizing. You've already focused narrowly to develop your skills and your trade and your craft. Now you have to send out the signal. A narrow focused signal, such a one sent by Twitter...yes. But have many of these antennae in your Social Media communication array. Send by Twitter. Send by You Tube. By Facebook and by Linked-in.

Here's a tip: You can optimize, integrate and automate. I try to get a blend in on my content, words, images and video. When I send my content, it's a goes out across the lanes. I hit post: Blogger tells Twitter, Twitter tells Facebook and Linked-in. These are my friends and connections I'm signalling to. Their interests are wide. I honor this diversity with diverse media in my content and a diverse messaging system.

4) Schedule the Time

Oh writer! Dorie tries to be sensible by invoking Aristotle's "Golden Mean" philosophy---take the middle ground between two extremes. Extremes here being SM addiction and SM avoidance. This here is the key point she makes which reveals her to be a fraud in the house of SM Love:  "Thirty minutes a day, split between following others and your own "content creation," should be just fine." 30 Minutes? Are you serious?

Think about when man first got fire. Changed everything. Dorie Clark would be standing there telling all those Cavepeople---Yeah, thirty minutes a day with that fire should be just fine. Right, no heating, no cooking, no smelting, no lighting the way all the time. Just turn it on and look at it.

What else do you have going on for 23 hours and 30 minutes every day?

8 hours for sleep
1 hour to prep
2 hours for travel
2 hours for food
1 hour for maintenance (cleaning, bills, etc.)
2 hours to relaxing or downtime.

Now its the remaining 8-hours in contention here. This whole thing about how to spend your time at work. Some folks haven't gotten the memo yet--talking now dinosaur managers and dinosaur owners (is that you?) The way we do business is changing. How to spend that 8-hour period for work--well, if you're only spending 30 minutes creating content and engaging your community, you are not getting it and you are missing out.

We are evolved, born, and bred to be super-social beings. The question how to keep "real time" separate from "social media" time shouldn't even exist. You delude yourself to believe social media is something wholly different than real life, that such distinction is necessary and helpful. Think how well trained you already are for this advent.

Multi-Tasking is Social Media
You listen to the radio while driving through snow and rain storms, texting your boss, settling down your fighting kids and lip-syncing a to-do list, while you quietly wonder about politics, maybe feeling sorry about last night's fight with your spouse. You just simply do all these things in 1-minute. Do you have to think about doing them? Not anymore.

There is no quantum leap between suped multi-tasking of real life and its online equivalent. Spend a day in the life, it might be hard at first. But spend more than 30 minutes a day and within a week you'll be doing this as easy as breathing: Online reading 5 discussion threads on TweetDeck, engaging your following with thoughtful retweets, culling through 6 open tabs on your browser that hold blog articles, while Alt-Tabbing to draft feedback comments in your always open text document, writing down ideas for your own blog posts as well, liking your buddy's new status update when it hits your stream because you want him to know you're thinking about him and that he matters, and maybe, if this is your thing, tweeting tried and true wisdom quotes by zen Buddhists and super-magma capitalists, so you can look like the king's gold to your following.

You don't have to worry about bandwith. Its there. And if its not, you'll develop more. Think about a New York taxi driver, who after the first week has the entire city map memorized and after the first month has a complete sense of its logistical timing. He gets it. You can get it too. You get it by driving the car. Not by scheduling time to drive the car.

Jump right in. The water is warm, you know how to swim already. Cook with the fire, more than 30 minutes a day. Believe in yourself and what you do.

In Conclusion

Do I sound overly optimistic? Do you think I've over-simplified the concerns users have for what seems at a daunting challenge--SM Skills Ramp-up? Well, if I fault Dorie for both pandering and "faking it" regarding her advice about avoiding the SM Overload, its because it wasn't that long ago that I felt the overload for myself and it didn't take long for that sensation to disappear.

Not Extinct Yet!
One year ago, I was sitting in a real estate office in Cambridge, with a few other dinosaurs, old-school pros of the market, and we were chewing the cud. We said, "We really ought to try and figure out social media stuff and see if we can use it." But we were all afraid. Afraid that we couldn't control it or bring into our systems and make it part of our method. Because we thought it was alien technology. We were seasoned real estate brokers with 150 years experience between us honing and plying social skills, honed over 80-100 hour work weeks, and we looked at the words SOCIAL MEDIA, and froze up.

That was then. I'm here telling you now--No no no! How to avoid the overload? Don't be mystified by Social Media. You've being working this way all your life--it is technology that has evolved for you. Likewise, you were born for Social Media. Just be the ball and you'll be on the ball.


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