I remember how excited I was when Google Alerts first came out. I signed up for updates on many keywords so I didn’t miss out on anything, and had them delivered “as-it-happened.” Then I realized I had to switch to the daily digest to try to manage everything hitting my email inbox. Soon I started to ignore my alerts altogether. Google Alerts is a great tool to “pull” information I was interested in, into my inbox. As soon as I started to tune into a variety of social media networks, my inbox was constantly full and I became addicted to checking my email every couple of minutes from the moment I woke up in the morning, until I went to bed at night. I was in a quandary. I really loved having instant access to updates in my industry or with competitors but I was drowning in the fire hose.
I looked for ways to just tune in to what I really needed to know, and tune out what I absolutely didn’t have to pay attention to every minute of every day. Eventually I discovered what my favorite tools were for tuning in (or out) – Twitter, Google Reader, Google+ and Unroll.me.
Ø Lists – there are a lot of media outlets and competitors that I don’t need to have notifications up-to-the-second. So I group them into lists and I can quickly scan my list of media & analysts or competitors. And within a couple of minutes I can peruse all of my competitor’s tweets for the past several hours or days (depending upon how frequently they tweet).
Keyword Monitors – how do I know when someone has tweeted about me or retweeted a tweet or even DM’d me (direct messaged me)? All it takes is to set up the twitter names and keywords you want to monitor and you will receive a digest of it as often as you’d like (I set up daily). It’s a great way to tune into a conversation about “spring skiing”, “spring break” and even “staffing industry”, which I’m monitoring right now. Type in the twitter name for an individual or brand, as well as any keywords you don’t want to miss out on. There are many tools that can do this for you, but my favorite is SocialOomph.com. You can even schedule tweets for the future, saving you more time.
There are so many interesting and informative blogs and websites out there that provide content that is meaningful to me. How can I possibly read them all? I don’t have to. Bookmarks are great to remember the web sites you would like to go back to later, but it’s not an efficient way to read through news headlines. Sign up for RSS feeds via Google Reader if you are already using Gmail, Google+, Google Play and more. Everything will be accessible from one place. All your favorite blogs & sites appear in the left nav bar and if new content exists, it becomes bold. Now you can scan and quickly click on the latest headlines that interest you. I know folks use aggregator sites but I find Google Reader to be a quick and easy way to read 50 different sources in just minutes.
I’m moving from Facebook to Google + because I like the privacy controls. You can create circles of all the brands, individuals and media outlets you are interested in. I can push out, and pull in information from my various circles, whenever it is convenient for me. I often find things posted in Google+ that are not available elsewhere. It’s another method to get “inside scoop” – particularly about your competitors!
Unroll.me – I aggregate all of my email accounts into Gmail so I only have one inbox to visit. I set up all the various signatures associated with each POP mail account, and so far it’s been easy to work with. However, I have at least 200 emails waiting for me first thing every morning. Unsubscribing from my favorite retailers and other types of services, proved to be unsuccessful. In fact, I think it triggered me to get added to other email lists. So I stopped unsubscribing one by one. I created rules to send email to my junk or “read later” folder, but more often than not, I missed very important emails. Then I heard about a new service that is currently in beta – Unroll.me. It’s an awesome tool that helps you declutter your inbox. You give it permission to access your Gmail inbox and then it sorts everything for you and provides a list to either unsubscribe with a simple click, or roll it up into a daily digest. I went from over 200 subscriptions down to 21. I unsubscribed from 112 emails instantly, and have the remaining 100+ now come as one digest message that I can simply scan headlines and click on the articles that I'm truly interested in. I absolutely love it! I’ve been using it for a couple of days and I’m already thrilled with the quality of the service. A more manageable inbox means I’m no longer a slave to my inbox. It’s about time!