Ah, the ubiquitous nature of information these days. It’s everywhere. Recent “digital overload” clamoring by, well by everyone basically, has itself even gotten tired already. Yes, we know, you’re feeling overloaded. Fact is, things have already changed, the revolution has already happened and it’s time to deal with it.
Google's "Project Glass"
The “overload” complaint usually takes two forms, “There is too much information, I don’t know what to believe” and/or, “Digital socializing isn’t as valuable as ‘real’ human interaction.”
A Forrester study earlier this year said that, of companies with a Facebook presence, 68% stated that if the social network went away tomorrow, it would not adversely affect web sales. Temper that with a JP Morgan study from 3 months earlier that said, nearly 8% of Amazon's October 2010 traffic was referred from Facebook, and you have a recipe for what many conclude as “digital information overload.” “What should I believe? Does anything have merit or value? Everything is contradicting everything else…… aaaahhhhhhgggh, help!” Ok, we will. Here it goes……..
When has access to information ever been a bad thing? Regardless of what we do, is it not our job ultimately to sift through information and make decisions based on all of the available data? We can guarantee you there is no such thing as an overly educated decision. It’s our responsibility in a connected world to organize our sources and consume them efficiently so we can make our business successful. Not only taking in information but also knowing what media to use to communicate a brand’s message. And then if you don’t know, seeking out the right partner to help you (psssst, that’s what we do).
Let’s look at the second complaint, which generally says, face-to-face connection is “better” than digital socializing. First off, it’s a common sociological understanding that humans are really just hyper-social apes. We are built primarily to interact with each other. We seek human acceptance and connection at the very core of the motivation that is driving our behavior. This is clearly evident in the fact that the vast majority of all human interaction is phatic communication. The small “poke, I am still here” talk that social anthropologists and linguists believe sets our social context, establishes and maintains our relationships, and ultimately has allowed our species to thrive.
So ok, we not only want to but we need to communicate with each other. Hey but wait, isn’t that what social networks do basically? Provide a platform for us to communicate with each other, phatically and informationally? According to Nielsen, social networks already account for ¼ of our total time spent online, more than any other online activity. And no wonder, this after all is what we are built to do. As a friend recently said, “Building a successful social platform is predicated on two things. Putting society on display and allowing its users to consume themselves.” Indeed. We agree.
In an era where most still don’t even understand twitter let alone see the value it can have for their business, trail blazers like HBO (most notably) have been using hashtag only calls to action to drive interest in their original programming during broadcast promo spots. Not knowing, or worse yet, resisting anymore can exponentially leave you and your business in the dust.
Let’s get to the point, struggling with digital saturation and information overload is now part of the human experience. The access to information and connectedness is something we need to take advantage of not rebel against. Just as in any other activity if you feel overloaded, step away or even take a vacation, because when you come back we can guarantee you there will be 5 new Percolates, GimmieBars or IFTTTs we’ll need to tell you about.
By John Burke