So, social media can be really overwhelming. It seems like there is some new strategy or tool being talked about every day, and I am always playing catch up. How can I stay on top of new technologies and weed through what’s useful and what’s not?
From the way my brain works, there is a serious risk that I would spend half the day combing through websites, looking for new information, sector leaders to connect with, and in the meantime, yes, getting slightly distracted by the random associations that that generates:
Kim’s thought process: Ok, let’s research fundraising tips today… Oh, Edward Norton is raising funds for a nonprofit? Hmm, I really liked Keeping the Faith… and every other movie he’s been in… he must have some good things to say, I should check it out… Oh yay they have pictures! … 10 minutes later… Oh right, fundraising. Fund-rais-ing. Focus!)
Obviously, this strategy doesn’t work, for me or anyone else. Luckily, there exist many different ways to organize and obtain information on the web, saving your time and your sanity. The tool I’m highlighting today is the one I started out with, and it has been tremendously helpful for me.
I found that this, beyond everything else, was the most helpful tool to make sense of the glut of information on the internet. RSS feeds allow you to go to one page, and see updates from all of the websites that you would like to visit, but don’t have the time to look at individually. I use Google Reader, which is great because I can look at it first thing after I check my email in the morning (I have an email account with Google as well), and can spend about 10 minutes looking at the updates and decide if any of them are worth investigating further. You can get RSS updates from any website that makes changes on a regular basis, such as news websites, blogs, and even Twitter accounts.
First you’ll want to set up a “reader” for your RSS feed. This can be done very simply through many different platforms such as Yahoo, AOL, and Google. Since I have a Google account, that’s the one that I found easiest to set up, plus Google has it’s hands in so many things on the internet that I find it easiest to go from one thing to another with Google.
I thought about going step by step here, but then I found this blog post that said everything I wanted to, in straightforward language, with pictures! So I’ll post the link http://mollypiper.com/2008/04/what-is-rss-a-step-by-step-guide-to-google-reader/, and thank them profusely 🙂
After you set up your reader, you’ll want to start putting things into it. You do this by going to your favorite blog or news site, and look for an icon like this:
Click on that icon (on the website, not here- I’m not that tech savvy yet), and it will take you to a page where it will usually give you the option to sign up, based on the kind of reader you have (Yahoo, AOL, Google, or other). This process is explained in the above blog post as well, with some helpful pictures.
My favorite thing about Google Reader is that you can start off really simple, just going through your updates as they come in. Then, as you get more comfortable with it, there are ways to share information with other Google subscribers and friends, organize your updates in ways that make the most sense to you, and highlight updates that you found particularly useful, or would like to come back to later.
I’m currently checking out some other websites that help to organize info on the web, to see how useful and easy they are to use. If you have any opinions on Stumbleupon, Delicious, Alltop, or know of any other (better or worse) sites, please let me know:)