Hackernoon logoYou’re Communicating So Much I Can’t Hear You by@rosemary-oneill

You’re Communicating So Much I Can’t Hear You

Community builders are compounding the challenge by using too many platforms to communicate. The user experience becomes muddled and confusing, like walking through a Las Vegas casino surrounded by bells and whirring machines. Single-focus apps (like Dispo and Minutiae) are starting to pop up. They actually feel like a relief. The great decluttering has to happen on two levels. Choose a single platform, a newsletter; maybe it’s a single forum; maybe a Facebook Group just for good measure.
image
Rosemary ONeill Hacker Noon profile picture

@rosemary-oneillRosemary ONeill

Co-Founder, Crowdstack

Online communication platforms and social networks have completely lost sight of user experience in their rush to include All.The.Features. 

And community builders are compounding the challenge by using too many platforms to communicate.

Too Many Features, Too Much Noise

The big social networks have been copying each other for a while now, but the mass adoption of the “story” format was the beginning of the end. It established a horrifying precedent in which every single social network had to have feature parity. And now audio spaces are getting the same copy/paste treatment.

This is a mistake.

The user experience becomes muddled and confusing, like walking through a Las Vegas casino surrounded by bells and whirring machines. Which slot machine should I choose?

Never mind, I now have a headache, so I’m going outside for some fresh air.

As much as Big Tech would like us to lose track of what day it is and keep gambling, we are starting to yearn for peace and quiet.

That’s one reason single-focus apps (like Dispo and Minutiae) are starting to pop up. They actually feel like a relief.

“constraints — even when artificially imposed — can be much more satisfying than information overload” FT.com

Feature fatigue is not a new phenomenon. This HBR article from 2008, Defeating Feature Fatigue, shows the study data behind our aversion to overly complex products and advocates “designing products that do one thing very well.” 

We still haven’t learned the lesson of feature simplicity.

The proliferation of Shiny Objects

With each new platform, app, or communication medium, creators/entrepreneurs and community builders are tempted to add to their portfolio.

But what am I, as a consumer, supposed to do when you come at me with this barrage of information? (this is a real example of a community I participate in).

  • Email newsletter (public and premium) 
  • Discord community
  • Live audio chat
  • Live video
  • Multiple live text chat channels for different purposes
  • DMs
  • YouTube channel with comments (both recorded and live-streamed, with chat)
  • Podcast (public and premium)
  • Social accounts everywhere, maybe a Facebook Group just for good measure
  • Audio content on Racket, Twitter Spaces, and/or Clubhouse

Perhaps they're also thinking about adding creator coins in Rally or BitClout, which have their own spaces to communicate

I like you, I really really like you, but I also have a job and a family. 

Keeping up with the conversation across your galaxy of venues is making me dizzy. It’s like social media whack a mole.

image

But I’m just trying to 'be where you are,' Rosemary!

Stop it.

  • I can’t find you because you’re everywhere, all at once, and you don’t even have a website that links all of these outlets together.
  • Not all platforms have notifications, so I don’t know when there’s new content. Some of them have insane notifications, which I have to disable (Clubhouse).
  • I hate/love a specific type of content (like I hate audio).
  • I want to be “in the know” and feel left out when you refer to a conversation that took place just yesterday in a different channel.
  • It’s more stressful for you to cover all types of media and monitor all of those outlets.
  • It’s more stressful for members to learn all the tools and features and stay on top of things.

image

How Do We “Marie Kondo” our Communication?

The great decluttering has to happen on two levels. 

First, when you’re building your slice of the community economy, choose your platform(s) sparingly. 

Second, once you’ve chosen those platform(s), be thoughtful with your use of features within them. Think about how your members will get the most value with the least amount of mental load. 

  • Start very, very small. Very small. Choose a single platform first. Maybe it’s a newsletter; maybe it’s a single forum.
  • Be consistent and predictable with your communication cadences.
  • You don’t need all the features. It’s easier to start with 1-2 and then add as needed. 
  • Match the venue to your mission and your members’ mission. Is video crucial to the mission? Do you need asynchronous conversations? How does audio fit into your accessibility goals?

Let’s apply Marie Kondo’s KonMari system to decluttering our communications.

Commit yourself to tidy up. Recognize that your members, followers, the audience are exhausted and overwhelmed. Perhaps you’re a bit burned out too.

Imagine your ideal lifestyle. What are you trying to achieve with your community and the conversations within it? What are your members trying to achieve?

Discard anything that has outlived its purpose first. That Medium blog you set up months ago but forgot about? Time to delete. The extra Slack channel that nobody is using? Shut it down.

Tidy by category, not location. Look at your Google Analytics and figure out which channels or sources are actually contributing to your goals, then make the tough decisions. Don’t just go to one of your platforms and start deleting. Back up and gain insight into what categories of content are really resonating with your audience.

Follow the right order. In KonMari, it’s clothes, books, papers, miscellaneous, sentimental items. In our decluttering, those might be replaced by Story videos, audio, long-form content/blog posts, short-form status updates. 

Ask yourself if it sparks joy. We’ve mostly discussed how decluttering your communications will benefit your members, but it will also lighten your own mental burden. Scheduling, producing, and tracking will become much simpler once you’ve let go of the things that don’t spark joy for you or your audience.

Now go spark some joy.

Tags

Join Hacker Noon

Create your free account to unlock your custom reading experience.