Insights and Opinions

I'm Drowning in Social Media and Going Down for the Count

There was a time not long ago—a happy time—when marketing communications was uncomplicated. It consisted of press releases, feature articles, case studies, editorial tours and an occasional interview or speaking engagement.

And then...the fan (and all that hit it) went into overdrive. One evening everything was copacetic, the next morning: kaboom! Bloody chaos.

Social media had arrived.

At first it wasn't too bad. You could start a blog and perhaps tweet the occasional tweet. Maybe sign on to LinkedIn.

But no, that wasn't enough.

Bebo and Plaxo and Ning, oh my!

So now, in addition to keeping up with businesses communications, strategies, marketplaces and competitors, we're now expected to keep pace with:

Bebo BlogPulse Bluedot Buzzlogic Digg Diigo Elgg Facebook Feedburner Flickr FriendFeed Furl Issuu iTunes Jaiku Joost LinkedIn Ma.gnolia MySpace Netvibes Newsvine Ning Orkut Photobucket Plaxo Plurk Podcasts Posterous Qaiku Qzone Reddit Revver Scribd Search Searchmob Skyrock Slideshare SnapFish Sphinn Spurl Squidoo StumbleUpon Sysomos Technorati Twine Twitter Viddler Vlogs Yahoo! Buzz Yammer Yelp Youtube Zideo

And let us not forget wikis, analytics, content marketing, Google (alerts, adwords, adSense, Knol, Wave, search, Buzz, PageRank), keywords, linking, mobile marketing, pay-per-click, RSS, SEM and SEO.

Who can keep up? Nobody, that's who. Not even social media experts.

It's frustrating.

One way to handle the overload is to take the Limelighter's advice: crawl into bed, assume the prenatal position, and turn the electric blanket up to nine.

How to survive the social media tsunami: the Rule of Three

For everything there's a solution. It may not be a great solution, but it nonetheless exists.

In this instance there are two solutions. You can ignore social media. Or you can embrace it using the Rule of Three.

According to psychologists, when faced with more than three choices the average person experiences a brain freeze.

You can easily experience this first hand. Walk into any supermarket and stroll down the cereal aisle gazing at a gazillion different brands and types. Now pick one.

If you're normal, you will stare mindlessly at the endless choices and end up buying bagels instead.

Implementing the Rule of Three

To maintain sanity, select a maximum of three social media to engage in—any three—and ignore the rest. (It's allowed.)

If you are an individual, select ones that are easy to learn and use, like Twitter.

If you are a company, assign the three social media that best promote your company. (Only organizations with dedicated social media mavens can handle more than three.)

Even limiting social media to three is difficult because all of them are constantly morphing and expanding (remember the good old days before hash tags?)

Be aware too that social media may be free, but they can be very time consuming (especially blogs and SEO), in which case you may wish to hire an outside person or firm specializing in your social media choices. (News flash: they're not cheap.)

How do you pick a social media expert? Even the “experts” claim there's no such animal and refer to themselves as “specialists.”

As with all things technical, your best choice is finding someone with acne.

Jeffrey Swartz is President of Daly-Swartz PR ( Jeffrey has been involved in PR and marketing communications since 1973 when he was named corporate commmunications director at Frost & Sullivan in New York. Before launching Daly-Swartz Public Relations in 1986, he served as vice president of corporate communications at Silicon Valley-based CompuPro.