How to Cut Through Social Media Clutter

Social clutter is a growing problem. The social dynamics of being overloaded with e-mail (both work and social) is somewhat similar to what happens when you’re overloaded with page recommendations, updates, comments, and the like.

The question of how marketers can cut through social clutter in order to get their message seen by a user was addressed in “Identifying – And Defeating – Social Clutter.” While this is an excellent question, there’s a question one-step prior: what’s the actual user experience of social clutter, and what tools can we give users to help them manage the problem?

You can view the problem from two complementary perspectives.

Social Media Filter

Users need to be able to filter-out the updates that they don’t want to see. These might include, for example, game updates from friends. If you’re not a game-player yourself, then you’re going to see those updates as pure spam, and having a tool to remove them would be helpful.

But just filtering-out things that you don’t want to see feels pretty defensive. It doesn’t really feel like the user is in control. Perhaps, if we put the user in control, in the context of managing social clutter, then the user will decide to see messages, including marketing messages, on topics that are interesting, at a time that’s relevant. That would be a clutter management solution that’s a win to marketers and end-users alike.

Custom Social Feed

People need tools for selecting updates that they do want to see. Just filtering out the uninteresting stuff isn’t enough. A useful filter should allow the user to specify three things.

The social network from which updates will be extracted. A list of topics (search terms) to filter against. A list of specific people of interest.

This combination of source network, topics, and people gives rise to a powerful notion of filter, or, as we call it, a custom feed.

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