Here we are again at the end of another year. While this year has been a great one in some ways, overall I can’t say I’m sad to say goodbye to 2014. Suffice it to say that it will go down in my personal history as the year I learned some sad truths about people and life...which, I guess, is a blessing because it makes me appreciate my family and true friends and good health all the more. So here’s to 2015 being awesome, right?!
Another thing that 2014 brought was just a ridiculous onslaught of information via too many channels as information overload seemed to cause marketers to ratchet up the frequency of their emails and seemingly everyone and their brother has finally decided that social media is not, in fact, a fad, and embraced Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook with a vengeance. It also was the year that the earned part of social media seemed to fall by the wayside as paid social media became the new social--no more is Twitter just a feed of people you follow but a firehose of promoted tweets and hashtags, and Facebook became basically useless both as a way to keep up with friends and a way to follow businesses that don’t have the budget for Facebook ads. And while some declared blogging dead, there is more “content” out there than ever before, in addition to billions of paid social promos via Instagram and other media....while there is some great stuff out there, there are still only so many waking hours in a day and something has to give if you want to stay up to date but also retain your sanity and productivity.
In that spirit, I’m doing an end-of-year digital clean up and encourage you to do the same if you’re feeling overwhelmed by content while underwhelmed by the quality and relevance. Maybe you’ve switched industries as I have and need to find some new blogs and people to follow; maybe you’ve got thousands of unread emails in your inbox and are ready to just detonate the whole account and start fresh. And maybe you’re just ready for a fresh, clean digital slate to start 2015. Whatever your goals, here are five things you can do to clean up your digital life and get ready for a fresh and productive new year:
Email. If you have as hard a time keeping up with email as I do, Unroll.me is a gift from the gods. It’s a free tool that lets you see EVERYTHING you’re subscribed to--newsletters, blogs, mailing lists, even listservs and private community discussion groups--and gives you the option of unsubscribing to as many as you want right from there. I do it about once a year when I get to the point where I’m having to spend so much time daily just deleting messages that it’s eating up more time cleaning than actually reading messages. It takes some time but is SO worth it.
Twitter. This year was the year that Twitter just kind of jumped the shark for me, and I’m trying to bring back the magic...or at least salvage it as a tool that is useful and fun. For me, this meant spending a few hours unfollowing accounts that were no longer relevant to me, actively searching out people and publications that are and thinking about how I use Twitter and what value I bring to people who choose to follow me. I admit that as I’ve become more overwhelmed by Twitter and also as I’ve felt increasingly visible and vulnerable online, my interactions on Twitter have become more broadcast and less about engaging with people. Not that that’s necessarily a bad thing--maybe that’s what Twitter has evolved into being for me--or for anyone, for that matter. Of course, there are still the social media purists who insist that there’s a right way and a wrong way to use Twitter, and that doing it this way is the wrong way...and maybe they’re right. Also, my kids think I’m incredibly boring on Twitter, so there’s that. Something to ponder for 2015, I guess. You can use a Twitter management tool to help you take stock of who you’re following, who’s following you and see which parts still works for you and which could use a refresh. I used Manage Flitter and think it has some good features. It shows you who’s not following you back, who is inactive, who has fake followers, which accounts you have muted and a bunch of other things you may or may not be interested in. Some of the options are only available for paid accounts, but the free account is a good way to see what’s up with your tweeps and maybe do some re-arranging for the new year.
Blogs. I don’t know about you, but I’m still mourning the death of Google Reader and searching for a good alternative. Recently, I started using Feedreader for work and am thinking about setting it up for my personal reading too. It feels a lot like Google Reader to me (or at least what I can remember of Google Reader...sigh…) and it’s definitely helping me curate content for the various accounts I manage for clients. My next task is going to be finding some new blogs to read in 2015, so if you have suggestions, please share.
LinkedIn. LinkedIn frustrates the hell out of me for the most part. The news feed functionality is beyond horrible, IMO, displaying hardly any posts from my connections and disappearing posts I accidentally scroll by but then want to go back and look at. I’m sure there’s some algorithm to it but I have never felt sufficiently motivated to look into it. As far as a LinkedIn tune-up goes, I think there’s definitely value in taking stock of your profile and making sure it reflects your best professional self on an ongoing basis. Also, even if you’re not looking for a job, you never know, so I’d advise an “always be closing” mentality on LinkedIn--always be selling yourself because you never know when you’ll have to and you may as well be ready. Take an hour or two to make sure you have a good profile photo, a strong summary, a gallery of publications or Slideshares if you have any of either of those, and a detailed job history. Think about asking for recommendations from colleagues, supervisors or clients as you accomplish things throughout the year. And take a look at your group memberships and quit those that you no longer participate in and maybe look for some new ones that may provide new value or opportunities. And if you have a blog, think about sharing some of your best posts as LinkedIn posts. It’s no longer a great way to drive readership or traffic--at least it isn’t for me--but can serve as a good showcase of your expertise and thoughts in a way that’s part of your profile.
Pinterest. Ah, Pinterest….my love affair with Pinterest continues, but as the platform has grown in popularity and the number of pins have grown, it’s high time I weeded through my boards and made some updates. Luckily, Pinterest is a goldmine of info about how to do just that--organize and manage your boards, update and maximize your profile, create or refresh your site’s Pinterest strategy and make sure the images on your site or blog are optimized for Pinterest. I did this last year and need to do it again--refreshed my profile, updated the cover image for each board, rearranged the order of boards and descriptions for some, merged some boards and eliminated others.
That’s what I have on the docket as far as an end-of-year digital detox plan--what about you? Any tips or tools to share?