I spend a lot time reading. With social media there’s never a shortage of content. I’ll read one article or post and look around at the suggested posts or click on the links and in the amount of time it took for Alice to fall down the rabbit hole, I’m lost (in a good way) in a world of learning. When time does not allow me this kind of serendipitous discovery, I lean on my trusted sites in my Google reader.
With so many good sites out there, reader organization is key. Most reader services allow you to create folders. I used to name my folders by broad topics such as Social Media, Association People and Foodies. But it only confused my streams with 20+ blogs in each folder. It became overwhelming when I opened a folder for a “quick” overview of what was going on in a particular area or industry.
Thinking of folders in a zombie filing way – as in social media people must be in the Social Media folder – just leads to a long list. Organize them in a way that makes the information work for you. I use a system of organization categorizing blogs by what value the writer generally provides (for me). For instance, do most of his posts spur me on with a call to action? Or do they put me in a philosophical mood? Don’t be afraid to cross industries or topics. If you follow a snarky travel writer, don’t hesitate categorizing them with a snarky social media person if their posts (generally) elicit the same response from you. If they light the same fire, organize them together. Then when you need some “fire” you know where to get it.
For instance, I used to have Seth Godin listed in my Social Business folder. This lumped him in a very large folder with industry analysts such as Jeremiah Owyang and the male Oprah of the social media world – Chris Brogan. Just like when you need a light bulb you don’t go looking for matches — business analysts and feel-good writers do not belong in the same category just because they focus on the same topic. Their approaches, writing style and content are very different. So I created a new folder called “No Nonsense” because Seth is one of those writers who I can count on for a quick hit of the obvious. I use this folder (and the bloggers listed there) for common sense blog prompts. It’s the first place I go when looking for ideas.
Brian Solis, on the other hand, is filed under my “Human Information” folder (don’t make fun of my folder names) because he writes about social business but there’s always a good amount of analysis in his posts and for those of you who like it depicted visually, he generally includes some nice graphs for illustration.
Organizing my folders by the kind of writer each blogger is, helps me decide what to read when. When I’m looking for something with teeth, I know where to find it and when I’m looking for a day-dreamy type writer for inspiration, I can go straight there. Categorizing by the industry that someone works in was extremely limiting and meant a lot of scrolling.
In organizing your folders in a needs-based way versus an industry one, you are no longer siloed. Just because something was written by a higher-ed thought leader does not mean it wouldn’t apply to associations. My new organization system helps me see these connections more clearly.
Fine-tuning your organizational system will help you become a better curator of content and improve the way you share with your communities, drawing invaluable inferences for the greater world around you.
How do you organize your reader?