Social Overload and Social Frostbite

I’m thinking I may try to coin a new phrase tonight, so I’ll just get on with it.

It was seven degrees when I woke up this morning.  The wind chill was below zero.  I considered the potential for working from the condo today but reluctantly acknowledged that today’s slate was a bit too full for telecommuting.  During my conversations today at the office, I encountered a few others expressing their disdain for the cold and their intention of isolating themselves amongst the comforts of their warm homes.  Some even said that the office clears out on the coldest days as everyone holes up like it’s the end times.

From my time spent working at the home office in Ohio, I’m aware of what isolation can do to someone.  Sometimes, I literally sat in the front yard with my laptop in the hopes that neighbors would come distract me for a few minutes because I had been so lacking human contact.  I found ways around it in Ohio but single digit temperatures… give me the chills.  Horrible pun intended.

So we’re staying inside to avoid the cold.  Social frostbite?  Yes/No?

I like it.

We can, of course, stay connected through the cold weather the same way I stay connected with the goings on back in the Buckeye State (Go Blue!).  There’s Twitter, Facebook, SMS… even e-mail if you’re still a little old school.  That sort of social interaction, though, presents much the opposite problem.  Instead of too little communication, it’s easy for a social experience to turn into a jumbled, useless mess if you don’t have the time to keep things cleaned up and streamlined.

At one point, between my various projects, I was responsible for five Twitter feeds, six Facebook accounts and/or pages, several e-mail addresses and a multitude of other platforms.  When Google+ debuted, I was sure to inform my more tech-centric buddies that I was sitting this one out.  I had too much going on.  And so it has remained until today, even as I see those friends flocking to the new big thing and blowing their Facebook profile, yesterday’s hub of connectedness, to smithereens.  If I don’t convert, I’ll be left behind by at least some of them.

I’ve reduced the non-work e-mail addresses down to three, soon to be two… and one of them will remain a “junk” account.  Outside of work, I now manage one Facebook page and two Twitter feeds (soon to be one).  I’ve been suffering from social overload.  It’s not necessarily anyone’s fault, my own or otherwise… I just got a little overwhelmed with the different focal points of my life and things overlapped and criss-crossed a bit.  Now’s the time to fix it.

Don’t get me wrong… I won’t be participating less in social media.  If anything, I’ve been stepping it up lately.  Streamlining your participation makes it far easier to manage the various channels.  Case in point:  Late last week, I contacted a guy on Twitter and we took the problem to Direct Message.  That led to an e-mail that led to a Google Talk instant message.  In the end, we resolved the issue… which was the administration of a Facebook account.  You can’t make this stuff up.  This sort of multichannel experience gets exponentially more difficult when you factor in several accounts in each channel.

It comes down to this:  One primary e-mail (and one backup).  One Facebook, one Twitter, one Google+, one LinkedIn.  Put things where they go, cross-promote as necessary, but figure out how you’re going to use each one and stick with it.  Follow away on Twitter… but put everyone in a custom group so you can follow the right people at the right times.  Do the same on Facebook… it’s a little less intuitive than Google+ Circles, but it’s not that bad.  Get your game plan together and execute.

As for me, I’ll be transitioning out of several accounts this week that I’ve used for quite some time and making sure everyone knows to migrate to the remaining accounts.  I have some lists to build, but once I’m done, life will be far easier.

Then I’ll be able to get through this winter without falling victim to social frostbite.

Also, MySpace.  We’re bringing it back.  See you there.  🙂