A lot of people use social media as their means of keeping up with news, topics and communities. I’ve always struggled with this aspect of social media, as the number of accounts I end up having to follow results in a constantly updating timeline that often just makes me turn away. It’s too much.
It’s just an observation on my part, but I think more and more people are looking elsewhere for their fix of valuable content. Social media is a firehose of data and digesting it at a sustainable pace is close to impossible unless you keep a tight reign on how many people you are following. Thankfully there are other means of finding valuable content.
The humble email is still the most reliable and manageable form of content that you can get. Which is why newsletters are probably more popular than ever. Subscribe to the topics that interest you and digest them in your own time. It’s that simple.
Newsletters are more valuable than social media in this respect because they are curated so that you can read the entire thing in a few minutes and get all the relevant information.
You also know when it will arrive. Newsletters are delivered on a regular interval and that consistency means that you always know when you’ll get the next edition of that newsletter.
Social media networks might not be keen on including RSS feeds in their own websites or even for individual users, but the RSS is still as popular as ever.
Although Google retired their Reader app, there’s now an abundance of RSS reader apps available and almost all websites include an RSS feed to subscribe too.
This openness on the web means that you can pick and choose the content that you want to follow, including the most valuable of content.
A newcomer to the digital world but certainly not to the old paper-based world of publishing is magazine subscriptions. I’m surprised that these are now offered on an increasing number of sites, but when you think about it, they’re a great way of digesting your topic of choice.
I’ve got a subscription going at the moment with [99U] and I must say I have enjoyed having the magazine sent out to my home so that I can enjoy it in a more offline environment.
Podcasts have also risen in popularity over the few years. The audio version the blog offers a much more personal experience when you listen to the host and possible guests discussing a particular topic.
I like to listen to podcasts while I’m coding. I probably shouldn’t, as I do notice that I miss half the things mentioned on the podcast, but it’s the only way that I can listen to them on a regular interval.
If I was being honest then I would say that this is my least preferred way of digesting content from the web. I like podcast shows that keep their episodes short, but many of the shows I listen to a close to an hour in length. Even with the speed boost on Overcast, it can still take a fair amount of time.
Social media is a great tool and it does have value but relying on it as the means of consuming information will have you checking that timeline more often than you need to. For the content that matters you should consider exploring some of the options above. They're easier to manage and you'll know exactly what you'll be getting rather than the mixed bag of emotions, rants and knee-jerk reactions that social media provides.