Managing the pain of social media

I 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.

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 banking 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?

6. Finding the Time to Deal with Social Media

Yes, dealing with social media takes time. How much time? Loads.

Solution: See Number 3 above.Stop!

If you’re experiencing social media pain, step back and look for ways to cut down and simplify. Narrow down your trusted sources of information. Resist the temptation to get caught up in data frenzy.

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