Overcoming Information Overload for Employee Advocates in Social Media

If you have a problem that persists for a very long time, maybe it’s not a problem. Maybe it’s a fact.
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That is information overload: a fact that isn’t going away. And anyone managing an Employee Advocacy program needs to think about how you will help your employee advocates deal with the persistent problem of information overload and how best to then act on what’s important.

Information overload is not new. Humans have experienced information overload since the 1500s. We are to information overload as fishes are to water. It’s just what we swim in.

Therefore, the overload is not the place you need to focus. The real problem of today is simply that our filters are breaking. They are breaking for structural reasons, and can not simply be updated. New filters are required.

Instead of focusing on the overload, focus on the filters that sit between the masses of information and your people. To help you think about it, below are a few examples to consider:

Example 1: Social Collaboration

Consider the social collaboration platforms that leading brands use within their Employee Advocacy solution.

Most teams who buy a social collaboration platform typically find that the promises of less email are true, but a new kind of information overload arises. As information moves from emails and phone calls into wiki-style documents and discussion threads on the collaboration platform, even more information is made available and searchable. And it must be navigated and filtered.

Smarter solutions are then required to ease the burden of that new information overload, ensuring that only the most relevant information is surfaced to each employee, and, hopefully, only when they need it.

Collaboration vendors are rapidly acquiring or building technologies to address the issue, but the need for such remedies will only continue to increase, as we all produce and store even more information than ever before.

Example 2: Public Relations

Consider Public Relations, another profession which is acutely affected by floods of information. In most cases, the traditional public relations professional reads constantly. I would feel safe in saying that almost no profession consumes more information every day than the average PR professional. They are, quite possibly, more strained by the current proliferation of online content than any other group.

They simply can not read more. They are at their human limits.

Instead, they need better filters. And not just social media listening tools that aggregate posts for sentiment scoring. They need better filters.

They need, for example, tools that can show them where local news is being published that affects the specific topic they care about, and then quickly — visually — drill down into the content, to get to the heart of it, without having to read all of it.

This kind of tool exists today. But most PR professionals don’t even know about it, because they aren’t looking for it. Because it changes how they work.

As a leader of employee advocacy programs, what tools will you use to help ease the ongoing burden of information overload? How could you change the way you surface information, present insights, and filter the most lucrative opportunities to your employee advocates?

We’ll talk about some ideas in coming blog posts.

2 Responses to Overcoming Information Overload for Employee Advocates in Social Media

  1. Mike Ambassador Bruny February 5, 2014 at 7:02 am #

    Such an important topic Chris. Thanks for bringing it up. I look forward to reading future post on the subject.

    A few things come to mind as I think about information overload for Employee Advocacy programs.
    1. Who is creating / curating the information that is coming to our advocates?
    2. Community Management is an opportunity I’m seeing for advocacy programs. Having someone who is dedicated to bridging the gap between the outside content as well as internal content. Someone or sounds like it may be someone(s) who help to turn all that data into helpful information and insight.
    3. Speed Reading may be something we have to start investing in. <–thinking out loud here and I hope you don't mind. It would be an interesting place to experiment. Maybe it's not for all the advocates but for the community manager(s). As with any experiment we set the hypothesis, test and measure. If it works, great! If not, what did we learn.

    Thanks for the work you do Chris. Power to the Advocates.

    • Chris Boudreaux February 6, 2014 at 4:31 pm #

      Hey Mike,

      Thank you for your thoughts. All important questions for program managers to think about. Content and Community will be critical for a long time.

      Speed reading. They should teach it in high schools. I had speed reading training in junior high. 🙂