Seth Godin is a genius. I don’t read his blog much but I know it is very popular and that he writes many concise thought-provoking posts.
Seth Godin on signal to noise ratio on social media
On Tuesday when he complained about the noise level on social media, he was just plain wrong. His ‘blog” doesn’t take comments and so what follows is my response.
Note: Because his “blog” doesn’t take comments, it isn’t really a blog. It’s just a series of opinion columns/articles. Being able to comment and interact with the blogger is what distinguishes a blog from an article or column.
Here’s the core of his post:
Signal to noise ratio is a measurement of the relationship between the stuff you want to hear and the stuff you don’t. And here’s the thing: Twitter and email and Facebook all have a bad ratio, and it’s getting worse.
The clickthrough rates on tweets is getting closer and closer to zero. Not because there aren’t links worth clicking on, but because there’s so much junk you don’t have the attention or time to sort it all out.
Spam (and worse, spamlike messages from organizations and people that ought to treasure your attention and permission) are turning a medium (email) that used to be incredibly rich into one that’s becoming very noisy as well.
And you really can’t do much to fix these media and still use them the way you’re used to using them.
You are in control of your signal to noise ratio
Yes, I am sure that Seth is right and there is increasing noise on Facebook and Twitter. As more people use social media, more noise is inevitable as people don’t understand the different dynamic about how social is about being interactive and not simply the traditional push, push, push. I’d suggest that Seth’s lack of comments on his blog encourages that misunderstanding instead of fostering blogging as social media.
In his post, he goes on to say that you can remove the noise from the blogosphere by using an RSS feed and picking the blogs you want to follow. But he leads you to believe that there is little you can do about the noise on Twitter, Facebook or e-mail.
Control the noise on Twitter
If you agree with Seth that there’s too much noise on Twitter, do something about it.
- You decide who you follow. If someone contributes too much noise or is not authentically present on Twitter, unfollow them.
- You can make and follow lists. You can make a list of the people whose tweets you value most. You can use a tool like Tweetdeck to follow those people easily in their own column. I’d suggest you shouldn’t do so and rarely look at the rest of the people you follow or else you might as well just unfollow them.
- You can filter your Twitter feed. Tools like Tweetdeck can filter your Twitter feed so that tweets with certain hashtags or words don’t show up.
- You can temporarily unfollow someone. If someone is actively tweeting at a conference, during an election or another set time period, you might decide to unfollow them until their tweets go back to their normal mix.
Control the noise on Facebook
Too much noise on Facebook? Maybe you have too many “friends” of “like” too many pages. Weed out the noise by unfriending some folks, unliking some pages or leaving some groups.
You can also control Facebook noise by indicating how close you are to someone. Tell Facebook if a friend is a “Close Friend,” a “Friend” or an “Aquaintance.” Facebook uses this information to help populate your news feed and notifications. You can control how much noise you contribute by determining who gets to see your post.
Facebook assumes you want to see more of the people and pages that you interact with on it. So make a point of interacting with posts from those you want to hear from the most and avoid interacting anymore with those that are contributing noise.
You may want to stay friends with someone but not see their posts in your newsfeed. Tell Facebook not to show them in your newsfeed.
Getting too much Facebook spam? You are in control of what notifications that Facebook sends you. Go into your settings and set your notifications to what you want to receive. The same is true of Twitter and LinkedIn.
Control the noise on e-mail
I won’t go into too much detail about controlling the noise on e-mail partly because there are so many different ways to access e-mail. But if that is one of your concerns, you can control that too. Learn how you can control your e-mail. Not satisfied with your level of control? Find a better tool to access e-mail.
Something we can all do is: Unsubscribe from e-mail lists or alerts that you no longer find value in or which added you without permission or an existing relationship.
What Seth Godin should say about signal to noise ratio
This post is far too long for Seth Godin. So let me conclude how Seth might say what I’m saying:
One of the greatest things about social media is that you are in control of it. You get to decide who you follow, what you like and what you see. No one can force you to have more noise in your social media than you want.
No one can tell you there is too much noise to make Facebook, Twitter or e-mail worthwhile any more.
You are in the driver’s seat. You decide what you value and who provides it. You decide if someone or some organization gets to put their thoughts, ideas or promotions in front of you.
If you find that there is too much noise from social media, do something about it. Make choices that reduce the noise. Learn about and use the controls available to you.
But don’t complain about the signal to noise ratio. You are in control of your social media. Take control.
How do you control your signal to noise ratio?