Social networking & web application overload

I have to admit that I am struggling a little. With the proliferation of web applications and social networking, I am drowning in a sea of data.

I use web applications to try to streamline and centralise our business processes and information. This was working initially when we used a couple of apps, but now we use over 8 different applications and keeping up with them all is proving very difficult and arduous.

From a  social networking perspective, I use it as a way to keep up to date with friends, partners and market Strawberrysoup. The problem is, there is just too much information from too many sources; and not enough time.

The recent Bing search engine adverts have hit the nail on the head with ‘information overload’. My head is spinning and even if I was to keep up with just the social tools, there would be no time for me to actually get any work done.

At Strawberrysoup, I use the following applications and social tools on a daily basis:

Web applications:

Every day there are updates that need to be added, edit or syncronised. It is unrealistic to think that I could find one application that does all of the above quickly and simply, but what is the other option?

Don’t get me wrong, I love the fact that web applications are online. The fact that no matter where I am in the world, I can login and keep up-to-date with my business and my team is fantastic. The problem seems to be that it is easy to be seduced by a beautiful user interface and think that an application is more useful than it really is. There must be a simpler way to manage your business data online – perhaps its just reduce the number of applications that we use and focus on the most important ones?

Social tools:

  • Twitter – the king of micro blogging
  • Flickr – networking with fellow photographers/friends
  • Facebook – networking with friends
  • LinkedIn – networking with collegues
  • WordPress – commenting on blogs and keeping up to date with our industry
  • Tumblr – another blog
  • Delicious – our shared bookmarks
  • Vimeo – uploading and sharing our videos
  • Ember – sharing images and designs
  • RSS – maybe not social, but keeping up with the industry
  • Podcasting via Apple iTunes – uploading and sharing our MP3’s/podcasts

Again, the social tools above are just a small example of the ones we use regularly for Strawberrysoup. And this list is growing at an exponential rate.

The fact that many of the social tools above can link into each other with Twitter updates being shown on Facebook, Tumblr or Linked In, means that I am likely to see the same information multiple times but on different platforms, thus giving me even more data to digest.

Mashable published an interesting article about how to deal with social networking overload. This article mentions creating boundaries for each application and trying to communicate your plan so that different networks of people don’t overlap. That is all well and good, but I think that there is a certain level of social success that we strive to achieve.

We *love* being part of the web community, and the fact that we are traditionally early adopters and prolific users of such technologies. This can however create the feeling that we need to ‘keep up with the joneses’ and be successful at it. With Twitter, the more followers you have, the more successful you are perceived to be – but is this really the case?

We are also switched on 247 to our networks. As well as accessing the information in the office, we can now keep up on the train, in bed or even on the toilet. There is no getting away from it.

What is the solution? Who knows. I think that the more I use web applications and social technologies, the more I think of the importance of selecting carefully the tools that I use. I don’t think that we should worry about being registered and active on every possible network or use every possible web application to run our business, be selective and use them well.

I am really interested to know if anyone else feels this way about information overload and if they fancy sharing their tips/advice, feel free!