Overcoming Information Overload for Employee Advocates in Social Media

Chris Boudreaux Digital Strategy Executive, EY

Posted on February 12th 2014

Overcoming Information Overload for Employee Advocates in Social Media

information overload and employee advocacyIf you have a problem that persists for a very long time, maybe it's not a problem. Maybe it's a fact.

That is information overload: a fact that isn't going away. And anyone managing an Employee Advocacy program needs to think about how you will help your employee advocates deal with the persistent problem of information overload and how best to then act on what's important. Information overload is not new.

Humans have experienced information overload since the 1500s. We are to information overload as fishes are to water. It's just what we swim in. Therefore, the overload is not the place you need to focus. The real problem of today is simply that our filters are breaking.

They are breaking for structural reasons, and can not simply be updated. New filters are required. Instead of focusing on the overload, focus on the filters that sit between the masses of information and your people.

To help you think about it, below are a few examples to consider:

Example 1: Social Collaboration

Consider the social collaboration platforms that leading brands use within their Employee Advocacy solution. Most teams who buy a social collaboration platform typically find that the promises of less email are true, but a new kind of information overload arises. As information moves from emails and phone calls into wiki-style documents and discussion threads on the collaboration platform, even more information is made available and searchable. And it must be navigated and filtered.

Smarter solutions are then required to ease the burden of that new information overload, ensuring that only the most relevant information is surfaced to each employee, and, hopefully, only when they need it. Collaboration vendors are rapidly acquiring or building technologies to address the issue, but the need for such remedies will only continue to increase, as we all produce and store even more information than ever before.

Example 2: Public Relations

Consider Public Relations, another profession which is acutely affected by floods of information. In most cases, the traditional public relations professional reads constantly. I would feel safe in saying that almost no profession consumes more information every day than the average PR professional.

They are, quite possibly, more strained by the current proliferation of online content than any other group. They simply can not read more. They are at their human limits.

Instead, they need better filters.

And not just social media listening tools that aggregate posts for sentiment scoring. They need, for example, tools that can show them where local news is being published that affects the specific topic they care about, and then quickly -- visually -- drill down into the content, to get to the heart of it, without having to read all of it.

This kind of tool exists today. But most PR professionals don't even know about it, because they aren't looking for it. Why not? Because it changes how they work.


  • As a leader of employee advocacy programs, what tools will you use to help ease the ongoing burden of information overload?
  • How could you change the way you surface information, present insights, and filter the most lucrative opportunities to your employee advocates?

I'll talk about some ideas in coming blog posts.

(information overload / shutterstock)


Chris Boudreaux

Digital Strategy Executive, EY

Chris Boudreaux is a Digital Strategy Executive at EY, where he helps brands transform their business operations through digital and social media. He published The Most Powerful Brand on Earth in 2013 with Susan Emerick of IBM, and he regularly publishes thought leadership to global audiences at SocialMediaGovernance.com.

Prior to EY, he led the Social Media Technology consulting practice at Accenture, and he founded a management consulting practice at the social media agency, Converseon, where his teams served brands including IBM and Walmart.

His work has been featured by media including Forrester, Gartner, Harvard Business Review, Inc. magazine and Mashable. In 2014, his research into social intelligence won the Best Paper Award from the Marketing Sciences Institute, and, in 2012, Chris was selected for membership in the 2012 iMedia Top 25 Internet Marketing Innovators and Leaders.

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