Stop Reading, Start Doing

Marketing, Social Media1 Comment

My buddy and fellow higher ed digital dude, Nick Leigh, recently shared with me his motto for 2012: “Stop Reading, Start Doing.”

Which is funny, because as new media practitioners we spend so much time researching and absorbing as much new information as possible because we know how quickly this space moves. One change to Facebook or Google’s algorithm can force you to rethink your entire strategy.

So we convince ourselves that we need to read every blog post that catches our eye and keep drinking  from the social media firehose, all in the name of ‘research’.

But the reality is that we don’t need to always be consuming content left, right and centre. The voracious near-obsessive consumption of content, while beneficial to a point, is asymptotic as the knowledge you gain becomes incrementally smaller and smaller and never ending as the landscape continues to evolve. This ultimately can have a paralysing effect as you wait for more information to validate your approach, often to the detriment of doing any meaningful work.

I am, by very definition, an infovore. While I’m fortunate that this also happens to be my passion, the very nature of my job means that I need to stay relatively current with my knowledge yet I no longer feel compelled to read, listen or watch everything. In fact, my Google Reader – which would always be cleared out at the end of the week – now routinely sits at 100+ unread blog posts. Instead, I focus on staying up-to-date on a few blogs by thought leaders that deliver me the most value on a consistent basis (think Mitch Joel, Avinash Kaushik, Christopher S. Penn), a single industry e-newsletter that curates the best posts from around the web, and when I have a spare moment, I trawl through a Twitter list of industry leaders for links and commentary. In a relatively short amount of time, I’m able to get a read on what’s happening and hopefully come across something valuable that I can put into action with the rest of time I have left.

Do you think there’s too much information out there? What tips do you have for managing your time and the flow of information?


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First off, I’ve definitely aepiecratpd and enjoyed the increased frequency of posts, Eric. Regarding “what you want people to do on your website,” we’re having these exact discussions right now about analytics. They’re a great way to see what people are doing on your site, as far as where they’re going, how long they’re there, etc. But the struggle we have, as an agency that focuses on the interactive “brand,” is less “what” people are doing and more of the “why” people are doing it. We’ve started to rephrase the question of what we want people to do on a site into “why would people be on your site?” It’s a subtle shift, but really important to understand the emotional aspects and desires of people online, and it helps us strategize well beyond the borders of a URL and engage in multiple places online, within mobile platforms, and offline. While we will always rely on analytics to help understand visitors on our sites, we’re conducting usability testing sessions to find out why they’re spending time on a particular page, why they’re navigating from one section to another, and why they’re doing certain actions. In addition, we’re holding focus groups to talk to appropriate audiences, not to test market ideas or functionality, but understand their overall behavior patterns, engagement methods across the internet, and why they engage in certain places online, on mobile platforms, etc. These conversations help us gain a huge understanding of why people engage online so we can further improve and create engagements that matter to people. Keep up the frequency of posting, really enjoying the conversations!

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