You can’t escape from social media these days, at least not if you work heavily on the Web like I do. Social media is great for marketing, business networking, staying on top of personal connections, and finding new and interesting information. But with that information comes a serious slap to your productivity.

The problem? There can be too much information; too many people vying for your attention; too many messages bombarding you from all directions. Social media can be as much a distraction as a valuable tool. So let’s explore that today — social media noise.

What is Social Media Noise?


Social media noise is all of the social media information and interaction that distracts you from the information or connections you really want or need.

For example, let’s say you like to access Twitter through their Web platform. You follow 5000 people. You can’t possibly read every tweet from every person nonetheless respond and share your own. All of those tweets that you don’t really care about are just noise. Social media noise just means you’re getting hit with too much — more than you can realistically process and respond to in a way that would keep you actively involved in those conversations.

social media noise
Credit: Intersection Consulting (via Flickr)

Staying Engaged While Eliminating Excess Noise


Weeding through the noise in social media doesn’t have to be difficult. Here are a few ideas:

  1. noise

    Stop using every social media tool that comes along. Narrow it down to the best places to reach your target audience or market. That might not involve using the biggest social networks, but sticking to a niche focus where the conversations are more targeted.

  2. Decrease the size of your network. Bigger isn’t always better. If you can’t stay actively engaged with your network, it might be time to trim the fat. Sure, you can’t stop other people from following you, but if you can’t keep up with those you’re following, it might be time to get more selective.
  3. Set aside dedicated social networking time. Use that time to check your Twitter account, Facebook account, blog comments, or whatever you want. And then stop. That’s it. You’re finished until tomorrow (or at least until you complete whatever other tasks are on your plate for the day).
  4. Make the tools work for you. On Twitter for example, you can break your network up into lists. So you can focus the conversations you take part in throughout the day (perhaps following up with colleagues during work hours and personal contacts later on). Feed readers do a similar thing by helping you sort through noise in the blogosphere.
  5. Search. If you’re looking for something specific, search for it. Don’t manually dig through information cluttering your network.

Sorting through the social media noise is just that — sorting. You’ll sort through millions of profiles to decide who to friend or follow. You’ll sort through countless messages every day to decide what’s worth reading and responding to and what’s not. You’ll sort, you’ll aggregate, you’ll follow, you’ll unfollow. That’s just life in the social media space.

How do you stay on top of all of your social media connections without becoming lost in the noise all day long? Share some of your tips for more productive social media use in the comments.


  1. Accursed WordPress, or rather my laptop’s touchpad. I just typed a rather lengthy comment only to backspace my way out of it.

    I wanted to add that you should be sure to focus on being productive with your time as well as effective with your usage. Focusing on the goals you have for social networking and putting scheduled time toward those goals reaps the best results.

    Also, manage your networking alerts. If you receive emails about new Twitter followers or LinkedIn group digests and you don’t want to, opt out. Personally, I keep them all in my email folder “Networking Alerts” and sort through them during scheduled networking time. Working directly on the web with some of these things is too distracting, and I feel like it is more organized in my inbox in one folder.

    Loving the SI blog. Great stuff, Jenn. Nice to see more than buzzwords and bullshit about social media.

    • I definitely agree. No matter how effective a social media tool could be, if you have to put all of your time into it, you could probably have done better with another strategy.

      As for buzzwords and bullshit, well, you know me. I rarely have the stomach for either.


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