Information Overload: A Real Problem for Online Marketers

There was a time not too long ago when acquiring information always had a definite cost associated with it, by way of not just opportunity cost, such as in investing several months of free time to attend a class, but also in the form of cold hard cash (books, seminars, high ed, etc…). As of recent though, the tables have started to turn. Information has become democratized and pockets of it have become free for the taking. Wikipedia, Google, Twitter, YouTube, and countless blogs have become a gateway to information that wasn’t always readily available 10+ years ago (for better and for worse).

With the spread of information, the problem has turned from that of availability to that of time management and discipline. Does the information that we are taking in have the potential to hurt more than it helps? Is too much of the wrong information, or that of of the time consuming variety, actually standing in the way of the pursuit of valuable and relative information?

Clay Johnson, author of The Information Diet, combats the problem by stressing the need for having a framework to work off of for information consumption.

If garbage in equals garbage out, how do those in the online marketing space, people who are confronted with the real possibility of information overload on a daily basis, learn how to be more selective?

The problem is massive, but here’s 3 questions that can be helpful:

Is this a reputable resource?

Before hitting subscribe, follow, like, or clicking through, ask first if what you’re looking at is as trustworthy as it appears to be. Who is this person or this company, what are they trying to say, and are they actually qualified to be saying it?

Is it worth the time investment?

Every blog post, email newsletter, and Tweet that comes across your radar, no matter how miniscule, takes time out of your day. Your goal shouldn’t be to sift through and judge as much of it as possible, but instead to create filters so that the best material consistently floats to the surface.

What’s the end result?

Spend 15 minutes browsing Inbound.org and you’ll likely learn a thing or two about online marketing. Spend 15 minutes browsing Reddit and you’ll probably find a bunch of cat photos. These choices, as simple as they seem, compound over time and are either reinforcing productive or unproductive habits. If you’re on the fence about whether or not a piece of information is worth consuming, consider defaulting back to the question of what’s the end result. Is this information furthering my career, a project, or a personal goal? If not, it’s likely little more than just another distraction.

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