Are we being overwhelmed with information or should we embrace non-stop news?
With rolling 24 hour news coverage, constant updates via Twitter and comment and opinion from all sides filling our news feeds, we are never short of information.
Does this constant stream of ‘news’ serve to make us more aware of the world or simply make it harder to identify the big issues? Are we really more informed or simply overwhelmed?

Intelex hosted our first event last night exploring ‘Information Overload’ with a wonderful panel of speakers: Independent columnist Steve Richards; Coffee House Editor Isabel Hardman; Vice President of Digital Communications at Visa Europe, Nick Jones, who was formerly Head of Digital at 10 Downing Street; and Enfield North MP and prolific tweeter, Nick de Bois. The event was live tweeted using #InfoOverload.

This blog explores the theme of information overload and how best to manage the proliferation of information. In this spirit, last night’s event gave us ten great tips on how best to use Twitter – as a tweeter and a reader:

Twitter tips

  1. Do be yourself: Twitter is about sincerity and showing some personality – Nick de Bois stressed this point.
  2. Don’t try too hard: it’s important to be natural. This is key advice for politicians, particularly senior figures who struggle to be authentic on Twitter – like George Osborne tweeting photos of his fancy burger before the Spending Review.
  3. Learn when not to tweet, as well as when you should. Nick Jones told us this was one the most important things he learnt at Number 10. Twitter is not the right medium for some issues.
  4. Twitter doesn’t override the need for personal relationships. Steve Richards and Isabel Hardman emphasised that journalists and politicians still value the personal touch over Twitter. Politicians shouldn’t use Twitter as a substitute for getting to know their parties and journalists shouldn’t use it as the only way to get stories.
  5. You need to have multiple personas online: your professional persona, your ‘human’ persona etc. Make sure you adjust for your medium – Twitter is not the same as LinkedIn.
  6. But be careful with corporate Twitter profiles. They can be used well, but can be risky. Some people don’t like getting responses from a faceless Twitter user.
  7. Twitter can’t do all the work for you; you have to use it well. Isabel Hardman had some great advice for us about using tweetdeck to create lists of newspapers and MPs and taking advantage of services which can filter and summarise for you.
  8. Don’t focus too much on Twitter. It tends to generate hysteria around minor stories that don’t have too much impact. Steve Richards warned us that watching Twitter too closely can make you miss the bigger picture – or the more important story.
  9. But do take the time (Nick Jones recommends a long commute) to observe and understand the rhythm of Twitter and how it is changing and developing a story.
  10. Lastly, and most importantly – don’t drink and tweet. Sage advice heeded by all of our panel!

We hope this post helps you use Twitter effectively. Keep an eye on this blog for more tips, analysis and advice on dealing with information overload.