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New Year, New Skills: Five Easy Ways to Improve Your Digital IQ

Jim Rosenberg's picture

Every few months I try to go offline for at least two weeks, trading the incessant frenzy of status updates for the pleasures of longform journalism and books (I also have a mad crush on Spanish cinema). In addition to being prone to “Blackberry Thumb” syndrome, social media burnout is an occupational hazard for me. In the spirit of sharing and as this is the season for lists and resolutions, here are five easy ways you can amp up your digital intelligence.

  1. Use Twitter to listen and follow influencers in your space.

    Even if you don't tweet, you can still have an account and follow others. If you're new to Twitter, here's their "Twitter 101" page. Twitter's algorithms are pretty smart about suggesting other accounts for you to follow, but you can also get ideas by going to and searching for the topics you care about.

  2. Make Facebook lists.

    Are you on Facebook? If so, you may have noticed that the newsfeed is getting a bit, well, busy. Even unwieldy. The way around that is by creating lists of pages to follow and lists of friends―and then you can toggle between lists to adjust what your newsfeed has in it. Mashable explains further. You should also review your privacy settings as Facebook Search rolls out.

    Hat tip to Robert Scoble for this one.

  3. Start reading new stuff.

    There are a slew of emerging content sites and platforms that aggregate and “socialize” content in a visual, fun way. All of it is optimized for tablet browsing. Some of it is silly, and some of it is serious and (shockhorror) even relevant to the work of the World Bank. A few of my favorites are:

    Buzzfeed. Calling itself the “first true social news organization,”content is presented and featured based not only on editorial decision making, but also through algorithms that look at how a piece of content is doing in social media―the more social it is, the more play it gets.

    Quartz. A startup global business site that's online only, Quartz aims to be like POLITICO, the digital-first political news operation in Washington DC―but focused on global finance and politics. Quartz is just getting started, so watch for lots more content as they ramp up operations in 2013.

    Medium. Founded by Ev Williams of Twitter and Blogger fame, Medium is a curated collection of short posts, often impressionistic. Futurista Francine Hardaway says it points the way to how content will look in the next couple of years.

    Linkedin Today. Odds are high you have a Linkedin account (I sure hope you do; it's one of the best ways to stay in touch professionally). For just over a year, Linkedin has had a feature called "Linkedin Today," which is essentially a curated newsfeed from around the web. The feed is tailored to your interests and you can subscribe to specific outlets such as Harvard Business Review or PRWeek. In 2012 Linkedin began inviting a few people to post blogs in Linkedin Today―including our very own World Bank President Jim Yong Kim.

  4. Join a mobile-only social media platform.

    The next wave of social media services is likely to be mobile-exclusive―and not necessarily from the US. One of the biggest that I learned about from colleagues in Tokyo is LINE, which originated in South Korea. Earlier this week the parent company of LINE said they'd have more than 300 million users by the end of 2013. That's on pace to best Twitter's reach.

    Path is another mobile-centric platform that's growing in popularity, aiming to make the most of the intimacy that most people feel about their mobile phone vs. a desktop or laptop.

    Incidentally, how organizations engage through social media via these mobile-centric platforms is one of the great questions for social media in 2013.

  5. Go for an ad-free social media experience.

    I’m just starting to play with, a social media service that requires users to pay a small fee to play; the early adopter crowd is there. Worth a look if you are tired of ads, and probably of greater utility if you can get five friends to join at the same time.

I'm sure you have suggestions for sites to follow, as well. What are they? And apologies for this list being highly US-centric―I'd love to hear about other platforms and services.


Image courtesy of Kittisak/

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