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Information Overload


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In today's digital age, information is abundant, and communication flows at the speed of light. But for many online community managers, this constant stream of information can become overwhelming, leading to decreased productivity and engagement among community members. Let's explore how the principles of managing information overload in the corporate world can be applied to the realm of online community management.

The Overload Dilemma

Gartner's recent survey revealed that 38% of employees in organizations feel bombarded by excessive communications, with 27% experiencing information overload. This overload can have tangible costs, including reduced understanding and alignment with the community's goals and strategies. It's a problem that affects everyone, from community leaders to active members.

Identifying the Culprit: Information Burden

The real culprit behind information overload is what Gartner terms "information burden." It's a burden that arises from information that is duplicative, irrelevant, effort-intensive to process, and inconsistent. This burden can lead to confusion, disengagement, and ultimately, a decrease in the effectiveness of your online community.

Who's at Greatest Risk?

Just like in the corporate world, community leaders are often the most susceptible to information overload. In fact, 40% of leaders and 30% of community managers report high levels of burden. This burden can manifest as a misalignment with community strategy, resistance to change, and suboptimal decision-making.

Steps to Alleviate Information Burden

So, how can online community managers tackle this issue and create a more streamlined and effective community environment? Here are some strategies:

  1. Establish Clear Communication Expectations: It's crucial to set clear expectations for how information flows within your community. This helps prevent confusion and promotes psychological safety among members. When everyone knows where to find the information they need, it reduces stress and increases engagement.
  2. Reinforce Accountability: Accountability starts at the top. As a community manager, it's your responsibility to lead by example and ensure that information is managed effectively. Consider establishing shared governance over the community's information experience. This involves bringing together stakeholders from various functions to align on a shared vision and maintain a user-friendly system.
  3. Focus on Human-Centric Communication: Ultimately, the goal is to create a community culture that values human-centric communication practices. This means prioritizing the needs and experiences of your members. By doing so, you can reduce the information burden placed on your community and foster a more engaged and productive environment.

In conclusion, the challenges of information overload and burden exist everywhere. Online community managers can apply various strategies to alleviate these issues and create a more engaging and effective community space. By establishing clear expectations, reinforcing accountability, and focusing on human-centric communication, you can help your community thrive in the digital age.

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