Signal Through the Noise

Flickr image by Bruce Berrien

Last week was (finally) my big moving week, and it culminated with our 1,697 mile road trip to the Twin Cities. The first third of our trip was filled with heavy rain and snow pelting our car, and the rest of the trip was marked by very heavy winds. While we were able to drive through the weather just fine, we learned in both cases that the driver’s window doesn’t seal well, and we had to work pretty hard to hear our music and radio shows properly.

As I was staring down the highway before us, I thought of this as a good metaphor for living in the new uber-connected world. It can be very difficult to hear the proverbial signal through the noise when we are constantly connected to Twitter, Facebook, RSS, Pinterest, Reddit, Stumbleupon, and you get my point.

As nonprofits have little money and less staff time, it’s vital to create systems for finding the important information in the streams coming our way. Here are a couple of tips to help you drink more comfortably from the firehose of connected life.

Lists, folders, and groups

Most social media and internet functions allow you to create lists to organize your life there, and I recommend that you take full advantage. On Twitter, sort your friends into lists, so that, when time is tight, you only check in on the people most important to you. I sort mine into real-life contacts, news, entertainment, nonprofit, soccer-related and a few other lists. I usually look at my full stream, but I often look at these smaller groups when I’m looking for specific news. Most RSS-readers will allow you to make similar sorts of lists, and so do many email programs. While it can take a bit to set up these systems, it’s worth it to allow you to focus when needed.

Scheduled Communications

When times are tight, finding time to send out messages can be as difficult (or more) than finding time to read through your feeds. Fortunately, there are many tools to help you schedule messages in advance for busy times. Hootsuite is my favorite Twitter manager, and I frequently will schedule tweets ahead – it also sends messages to Facebook, LinkedIn and others. Buffer takes that a step further, and allows you to schedule many tweets at optimal points in the day for the best readership. Boomerang is a new service that allows you to schedule emails to go out in advance – currently only on Gmail-based email systems.

 

Do you struggle to wade through your social media streams? Have you tried any of these tools to help manage your social media presence? What are your favorite social media management tools? Answer these or ask your own questions in the comments!