Not a Social Media Expert: a confession and cry for help
Two weeks from tomorrow, I’m heading off to Denver for the second annual Financial Blogger Conference, also known as FinCon12.
I am dragging with me (from across the country) my best friend Stacy, who has been known to write a personal finance post herself from time to time, when her relentless day job as editor for CNN Money will allow.
Of the remaining three hundred some-odd people, I have a passing familiarity with the blogs and sites of perhaps a handful, only one of which I read regularly.
Apparently this makes me something of a crazy recluse in the PF world. It seems that many (most?) of the PF bloggers out there know each other, and constantly read and comment on each others’ sites.
Anyway, for several days now I’ve been trying to sample a goodly portion of those 300 blogs, so as to have some idea whom I might be meeting or listening to in a couple weeks.
That’s a heap o’ readin’. I’m drinking from the firehose here.
And I’m wondering: how the HELL does anyone keep up with this?
This is all just part of a larger conundrum: I am often overwhelmed by All The Online Things.
I do a lot of offline reading — something like 80-90 books a year, mostly nonfiction. The worst thing that happens there is that sometimes more books will surface simultaneously from the library hold queue than I can read in three weeks. In which case I triage and put the less urgent ones back in my queue, where they will magically pop up again at some future date without any further effort from me. Easy peasy.
But Twitter? Man, you have to catch that shit as it zooms by, or you are SOL. And frankly the signal to noise ratio seems painfully low, even though I curate the (non-friend) people I follow as strictly as I can. Am I somehow just doing it wrong?
Also, am I the only one that thinks blog carnivals are insane? Fifty-plus article links on a page is just way, way too much to handle, even with a sentence or two of commentary each. I see ‘Carnival’ in a post title and I physically flinch.
Blogs or tweets or whatever, eventually there gets to be just Too Much and I can’t keep up. And then I just stop. I avoid the milieu altogether.
I’ve been through the same cycle in the past with every social network I’ve tried. Hell, it’s even happened with email. (I’ve never formally declared email bankruptcy, but practically speaking it’s amounted to that at least twice.) I’ve fallen off Twitter several times. Posted an ‘it’s not you, it’s me’ status and ignored Facebook for most of a year. Got all excited about Google Plus and then stopped actually looking at it.
But I’m making a serious play at building a bigger audience here, which in this decade apparently means social-networking it up all over the place. (Yeah, there’s always been networking in some form or another. But there was a time on the web where I could simply
build write it and they would come. I hope it’s not too whiney-pants of me to say that I miss that.)
I have balls in the air, folks. And I know I’m not the only overcommitted soul out there, which means somebody must have more efficient processes for keeping up with everyone and everything else. If you are engaging regularly in online social spaces without getting overwhelmed, please tell me how you’re doing it. A process? A tool? I’ll consider any sort of suggestion.
Here’s my current practice:
- I tried RSS once before and it didn’t stick, for assorted reasons. I’m trying it again now in some desperation. I’ve added 14 new PF blogs (and two I was already reading) this week to a Google Reader account. But if I don’t check it for three or four days (juggling!), the backlog is daunting. And that’s with just 16 feeds. Which I fear is just scratching the surface. Commenting, of course, has to be done on each individual site.
- I am using HootSuite, in what I recognize is a fairly rudimentary way, to maintain my two Twitter accounts (@karawynn and @pocketmint). At the moment, between the two, I’m following around 150 people/accounts. (How very Dunbarian of me.) I feel certain I am missing some signal here.
- Last year I ruthlessly trimmed my Facebook friends back to people I’ve met in Real Life, and heavily curated who appears on my Facebook news feed. I may have gone too far, as now I feel a bit out of touch — but on the other hand, it freed up a lot of time.
- I need/want to rearrange things on Google Plus, both a) find more interesting strangers and b) weed out some of the not-so-interesting strangers I have circled already. With what time, I have no idea. But overall I find the G+ format much more comfortable than either Fb or Tw. If only it were as well-established …
- I am not happy with autoposting from Facebook to Twitter or vice versa because the formats are so different, so I’ve been doing them each by hand. (Multiple times, as my personal accounts everywhere have way more eyeballs than the Pocketmint-specific accounts.) I would love a way to cross-post to Facebook and Google Plus, but I don’t know of one.
Okay, all you social media mavens. What should I be doing differently?