Twitter's Controversial Algorithm Changes: What They Mean for Your BusinessTwitter Vs. Facebook: Which One Is Better for Promoting Your Brand?3 Free Twitter Tools PR Pros Can't Live WithoutSocially Stephanie: Social Media for the Automotive Industry
- Content Marketing
When Your Customers Become Your Contributors: Brand Journalism Meets TraditionalToo Many Advertisers Are Talking, Not Enough Are ListeningEmotion Drives Behavior: 3 Brands Getting It RightNative Advertising: The New New Thing or a Race to the Bottom? [VIDEO]
Technology & Data
Data and Creativity at the Social Shake Up: Defining Your Data-Driven Social CampaignTalking Strategy and Data with Shannon Lee of Precision StrategiesNew IBM Study Reveals 3 Key Characteristics of the Most Successful CompaniesMinority Report: Confronting Privacy Issues in Big Data Gathering
- Tech & Innovation
- marketing automation
- Social Tools
- Small Business
- Social Organization
Recap from the First-Ever Employee Advocacy SummitFormer IBM Senior Advisors Launch Brands Rising to Build Employee Advocacy ProgramsPerformance and Risk Management Through Social Media TrainingEmployee Advocacy Summit: Advocate Stories from the Field
- Customer Service
Join us September 15th in Atlanta for The Employee Advocacy Summit and learn how to unleash the power of your employees.
Post your event here and we'll share it with our community. If one of our members is featured, we'll promote as well on their profile.
- Marketplace & Webinars
The SMT Marketplace
Your resource for exclusive content and insights from Social Media Today, and opportunities to reach our community of professionals.
The Social Business Book Club brings you books, discussions, and insights from today's to business thought leaders.
Join interactive talks and and panel discussions with leading thinkers and practitioners on social media and networked business, or browse the catalogue of recorded sessions - all completely free.
Reach Social Media Today's community of marketing and communications professionals in an editor-approved context with a native advertising package.
Study Explodes the Myth of Internet-Based Information Overload
Posted on September 16th 2012
Listen to enough hysterical warnings and dire forecasts and you’d think that information overload is leading us to some kind of bleak, post-apocalyptic future. In an Advertising Age column he wrote back in 2007, Edelman Senior VP Steve Rubel said, “A crash is coming, folks. But this time it’s not financial—it’s personal.” The attention crisis, he said, is an epidemic. “There’s no more room at the inn. People will cut back.”
Outlets ranging from The New York Times to Lifehack.org have addressed the consequences of too much online information. Personally, I’ve never bought it. More than a decade ago, I argued that people can stand all the information you can possibly throw at them—about things in which they’re interested. The stuff they don’t care about? They don’t waste time with it. As for the worry about too many sources of information, content and conversation, I figure people will adjust based on their interests and the time they have available. Tools that consolidate, aggregate and curate have helped, too.
But now, there’s proof that all this worry about information overload, message meltdown and attention crash is overinflated hyperventilating. A study out of Northwestern University finds that “very few Americans feel bogged down or overwhelmed by the volume of news and information at their fingertips and on their screens.”
Published in the journal The Information Society, the findings were based on seven focus groups with 77 participants from around the country. According to study author Eszter Hargittai, associate professor of communication studies, “We found that the high volume of information available these days seems to make most people feel empowered and enthusiastic. People are able to get their news and information from a diverse set of sources and they seem to like having those options.”
Study participants were asked specifically about the volume of content at their fingertips, but few said anything about feeling overwhelmed or suffering from overload. According to a report on the study, typical responses included the following:
- Participants had near-unanimous enthusiasm about the new media environment
- Online news was regarded more positively than TV news
- Cable news was often criticized for its sensationalism and stream of repetitive stories
- Trivial social media posts and opinionated political pundits are top sources of frustration when seeking information
In fact, rather than feeling buried by information, people are getting more critical of its quality. “But these frustrations were accompanied by enthusiasm and excitement on a more general level about overall media choices,” Hargittai said.
As for the few who did feel overwhelmed, these tended to be participants with low levels of Internet skill, people who can’t navigate search engine results or filter through social media updates.
Incidentally, if you’re shaking your head at the idea that information overload is an overblown issue because of the amount of information you deal with at work, that’s another story! There’s ample data to support employee claims of being buried in information; the email inbox alone is enough to drive some people over the edge. Fortunately, IABC’s Research Foundation has produced a report on sources and solutions for the enterprise overload problem.