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I declare 2016 the year of “Information Overload.” With hundreds of millions of content shares every day by billions of active users on social media, we are maxed out trying to keep up. And now we -- the consumers of content -- are taking over as the producers, becoming prosumers - as it were. It's a thing, so get familiar with the term. With the proliferation of devices and apps that make it easier and faster to produce and share, the sea of content will continue to expand exponentially, like an exploding star with no friction to stop its trajectory. Prosumers will click, snip, snap and post their way into record-setting content oblivion. These same digerati who are consuming millions of bytes today are not growing at the same pace as the content, and the digital diarrhea is killing us. Metaphorically, of course.

The millennial generation that was born with a device in their hand has
slightly eclipsed the size of the baby boomer generation, but not
nearly at the same pace.

And so, the mountain of content, the fear of missing out (FOMO - yes, that's a thing, too) is overwhelming and paralyzing.

At the beginning of 2016, I followed, lurked and liked a wide variety of content - consuming and watching the emerging trends of how brands were creating engagement with consumers and how they responded back. And then something interesting began to happen: there was an inversion. Consumers started engaging with brands, but only 18 percent of brands were engaging back. A pattern was emerging. By the middle of the year, I had something to say, commentary to add and insights to offer. So I shared, clipped, cut, paste and posted, trying to keep up. But who is really listening? Turns out, quite a few. Behind every like or comment there are at least 20-30 lurkers who are trying to make sense of it all or who are just giving up. So what to do? This brings us to my personal social media resolutions for 2017. These can also apply to brands, as well.

  1. Focus your genre. Pick your puzzle piece. Identify your niche and stick with it. Too many brands and individuals try to be an expert on everything, and, consequently, become purveyors of nothing. Me? I'm a corporate healthcare communications strategy guy. I also like aviation and am a connector. So I follow sites and individuals that align with my interests and post only the content that I hope is engaging to those who share similar interests. Posting for posting's sake is so 2014, and simply broadcasting content far and wide is, like, so 2008.
  2. Remain authentic. Love a post? Share it with enthusiasm and declare why it strikes a chord. People want/need/crave authenticity online. They're spending their time scrolling through prosumer content (there's that word again) looking to be entertained, enlightened or even to learn a little something new. The best teachers and sharers are those who let their passions sparkle. Staying a corporate square is so 2015. It's ok to have personality.
  3. Cull the herd. Very few people maintain authentic friendships with thousands of Facebook friends, Twitter tweeps and Instagram ideators. LinkedIn is a little different. Connections on LI are smart people you met and want to follow, or they are people you need to know. Give your brain and your psyche a rest: focus on people who matter to your personal and professional life. A brand's version of this might be to follow only those influencers, executives or other brands that are true leaders in their given sector. Some exceptions apply, of course, but this is not intended to be a white paper. Bottom line: limit the number of voices in your head that guide you before paralysis sets in.
  4. No stealing. See a pic you like? Repost and give credit. Like a blog? Share and give credit. A quote rings true? Post it and give credit. Hopefully, you see the pattern: give credit. So, the moral is to remain authentic, engaging and original. Sure, ideas are recycled or expanded upon. But outright lifting someone else's content is just plain lazy and sad.

Ok, those are my social media resolutions for 2017. Perhaps not profound, but they're mine. And there are only four of them, so I'm less likely to break them, which matters when we reach this time next year and re-evaluate. Best wishes for a prosperous and healthy 2017.