Wading through social streams


Sorting through your social media streams can be as frustrating as pushing through a shopping mall crammed with lolling teenagers when you’ve only got 30 minutes to shop.

As we spend more time on social networks, one of the inevitable consequences is that we’re connected to a greater numer of people online. And that means a greater number of people to keep up with. Or “crap to wade through” – choose your preferred term.

How can we manage it?

If you’re a keen Twitter user, you can easily find yourself following several thousand people. On Facebook, you may find your initial friends and family network has morphed into “anyone I briefly bumped into back in the 90s”.

It can easily become overwhelming and dispiriting, as you log onto a newsfeed that’s full of posts you’re not interested in, written by people you barely remember.

This is a common complaint and of course social networks themselves are aware of this;  which is why they’ve invented tools to help you sift and sort.

(If you’re a social media tragic, this might be second nature to you. This blog is more of a 101 post).

Here’s a few things I do to cope with the influx and ensure I don’t miss out on the posts from the people I consider important:

  • Use Twitter lists. Most of my lists are private, because I don’t want to share how I’ve categorised people. I have a list for Friends, Clients, Social Media and so on. I always check my Friends list on Twitter first, before I read the general stream. This helps me keep up with what my real-world friends are doing, and helps me to avoid diplomatic incidents. You may find that you only ever read tweets from people on a List. Read Twitter’s explanation of how to use Lists. Basically, a List helps you cut to the chase. You may have a List for clients too, or people you admire, members of your favourite sports team and so on.
  • Save Twitter hashtags to a stream. Read Twitter’s explanation of Hashtags   if you’re unsure. I have the #socadl stream saved as a column in Hootsuite. Again, it helps me to sift through Twitter quickly, because I can scan the pre-searched stream and see what comments have been made that are pertinent to the #socadl community. (And you may only have a hashtag stream for one day, when a conference hashtag is pertinent to you, for example. They’re easy to set up and remove).
  • Use Facebook ‘Hide’. On Facebook, there are a myriad of ways you can focus on what’s important to you, and block out the noise. Click on the X button to the right of any post for example, and you’ll see the option to hide the friends, pages, games or applications that annoy you. You’re still connected, they aren’t aware that you’ve hidden them, and you can check back on their profile or page – their posts just won’t be served up to you all the time.
  • Use Facebook friends lists (see pic below). You can sort your Facebook friends into lists, too. (Click on Friends to the left of your profile, see Create a List on the next page). Then, when you’re looking at your newstream on Facebook, you can choose to view certain Lists. Your ‘best friends’ list might have just three or four very special people on there, whose posts you absolutely don’t want to miss.

    Viewing Lists on Facebook
    Viewing Lists on Facebook
  • Use Google Circles. The newest sensation of course is GooglePlus, and much of its hype is based on its sorting and sifting abilities. You can create Circles there, another iteration of the list concept. You can name a Circle anything you like, and drag and drop your contacts into that Circle, and then view that Circle’s newstream only.
  • LinkedIn has a profile organiser  but as it’s available only to upgraded accounts, I haven’t had the chance to roadtest it yet. Have you tried it?
  • An RSS feed is of course one of the ultimate ways of organising your social media streams, in particular collating feeds from your favourite blogs into one place. Some social networks offer an RSS option; GooglePlus has an RSS option for example.

Further reading

Can we ever digitally organise our friends
Facebook’s Edgerank  (if you’re interested in what Facebook is doing behind the scenes to influence your newstream)

What are your favourite ways to sift through your social media updates?


One Comment Add yours

  1. CathieT says:

    I’d have commented on this, but didn’t have time ….. oh yeah – do I know you from somewhere?? …

    Seriously, those are great ideas – I have seriously underutilised Twitter lists …. and given that it’s where a LOT of my SN time is spent, they make a lot of sense.

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