Too Much Information (TMI). We are inundated. How do companies and their employees make sense of this infinite information? Here is a look at the challenges and how businesses can respond:
Accuracy – How do we know what we are reading is the truth? Wikipedia, for example, is edited by the population at-large. (Who are these authors?) Amazon.com and Yelp.com aggregate comments about user experiences. (Are the posted comments unbiased or written by the author’s brother, a disgruntled employee, or a representative from a company’s PR department?) In the business world, employees are challenged to find the most accurate and relevant information too. (Is this the most recent inventory report? Who is the source of this customer research – a social network chat room or an analyst firm?)
Take into consideration what you learn from new media with some discernment, and continue to rely on traditional trusted sources and communication channels (analyst reports, professional customer surveys, feedback from the sales team, etc.). Original media doesn’t mean outdated.
Jumping to conclusions - There is so much information about health and medical conditions on the web that we can work ourselves into a frenzy, certain that we’ve contracted some condition we self-diagnosed. It’s easy to do. In business, we receive real-time results and instant customer feedback. While the timely information can often be put to great use, it can also cause reactionary behavior that may not treat the root cause or address a real problem.
Businesses and workgroups, at times, need to pause and reflect. Take time to assess the various data points, find correlations, and look at the big picture. Investigate: Is something a trend or a single incident? Is this situation a result of a faulty process, recurring in a particular location, or something entirely different? Is the online source credible and influential? Let good judgment triumph, rather than be indiscriminately swept away by the latest trend or customer comment.
Who is the expert? - Gone are the days when you had only three television news stations from which to choose. You looked forward to the 5:30 p.m. evening news, and i you missed it, you phoned a friend, or waited until the newspaper came out the next day to get information. Today, information is infinite, and there is no shortage of “experts.” Consider the blogging communities and 24/7 news and entertainment channels. There are thousands. So who is the trusted source?
This same environment allows the enterprise to be the expert. Companies can leverage the power of their brand and market leadership to be a dominant, leading voice in the online and social media community. Companies must do so to be competitive. Those that do it well are perceived as experts in their field. If you want medical information, you visit mayoclinic.com, for financial news you visit wsj.com. Companies must stay relevant and leverage new media to communicate with and capture the attention of their consumers, prospects, and other constituents. And then there is …
The Twitter Phenomena – At first glance, it seems a frivolous use of time and resources to tweet one’s thoughts ….”Eating at The Global Deli on 4th Street – best Panini ever!” Really, do we need to be inundated with this type of information about our friends and colleagues?
Businesses may perceive tweeting as irrelevant. Yet Twitter has taught us to be brief, get to the point, and say something interesting - great advice for any communicator. With tweeting, one person can make a difference – a single tweet can go viral, reaching millions of people in minutes. Successful fund-raising and product sales have been launched by a single tweet. Just look at sales after a celebrity tweets about her favorite new beauty product or handbag. Tweeting is a legitimate marketing strategy.
Technology makes it easy to share and access TMI. Sometimes it’s best to put away the tablet and smartphone. Turn off texting. Walk over to your co-worker’s cube and have a conversation. Make a lunch appointment and really listen to what your client has to say. Put aside presence technology for a moment, and be present. Rather than TMI, you’ll likely get TRI – the right information.