Social Media: Drinking from a Fire Hose

Social Media can feel overwhelming.  Between all the various tools to connect and navigate, the options on sharing – photos, urls, text, videos etc., the other tools to organize your social media not to mention all the usernames and passwords, it can quickly feel overwhelming – like trying to drink from a fire hose.


by Official U.S. Navy Imagery on Flickr  creative commons button by-sa Some rights reserved

This is a phrase I heard during a keynote by Alec Couros at the NWelearn conference several years ago.  At this point in time, I was not active in social media and was seriously wondering if it was worth “adding one more thing.”

stacked by Chrissy Wainwright

by Chrissy Wainwright on Flickr  Some rights reserved

Stopping to Explore

The solution Alec Couros suggested was to not worry about what you missed.  You just need to stop by every now and again and take a drink from the river of information.   I have followed this advice and found some incredibly helpful information when I needed it, or an introduction to a new idea or technology that proved useful later.

daughter of milam by anurag agnihotri

by anurag agnihotri on Flickr  creative commons button by-sa Some rights reserved

Blogs and RSS

One of the first tools I used was an RSS reader.  RSS stands for Really Simple Syndication – which while it does make you feel like it is something you could wrap your mind around – really doesn’t answer the question  of what is RSS.  You can search “define RSS” in google and you will get the definition along with a number of sites to explore.  Or we can turn to CommonCraft on Youtube for a visual explanation:


So, you use RSS to help you keep track of your blogs and other sites that use RSS.  I currently use Feedly to gather all the RSS feeds I have discovered.  I like the ability to sort, organize, and search.  It can still be overwhelming, but you have to remember that you are not “required” to read everything, just the titles or images that catch your eye.  Or maybe use the search for terms like “presentation” to find people talking about technology for presentations.

 People, Products and Twitter

I have found that twitter can often provide a quick look at something new. With only 140 characters there is a limit, but often links will be added using a url shortner (,, that take you to blog posts, articles or other expanded information.  It has been through these short moments in time that I have found some cool tools (gingko), insights from big names in my field (, informative graphics (), and inspiration

So, while social media can be overwhelming, don’t feel you have to “do” or capture everything.  You are in charge of how you use social media.  Explore a little, but do some planning as well.  Plan to take time to use the tools in a way that in useful for you.

At times you may feel like you are letting information go down the drain, but there are tools – searching, filtering, etc. to help you find the information when you need it.  Take the time to learn those features and you will be in charge of your social media.

fire hose drain Kat N.L.M.

by Kat N.L.M. on Flickr   Some rights reserved


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