August 24, 2008

There is No Social Media Overload

Every day, there are more and more great services to investigate in the world of social media. Each one breaks new ground in terms of features, focus or user interface. There are many different sites that target general social networking, some are for business, some are for dating, some are for microblogging, and others for service aggregation. And there will be many more. While some are calling for a pause in the innovation, somewhat fatigued by the implied redundancy or overwhelmed by chasing down comments and conversations in new places, it's worth noting there's time in the day to manage a good number of sites, and not all the winners have yet been crowned.

To have a full deck of social media tools, you essentially need the following:
  • 1 or more blogs that you manage.
  • 1 or more accounts on an RSS feed reader.
  • 1 or more microblogging identities.
  • 1 or more accounts on a business networking tool.
  • 1 or more accounts on a social network.
  • 1 or more accounts on a service aggregator or lifestream.
(Also helpful: A social bookmarking site, online photo site, music recommendation service, etc.)

For me, this means I blog here, use Google Reader, Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and FriendFeed as my core applications for each category. But below these headliners are others.

For RSS, I also use Shyftr and liked AssetBar before it went away. I've tried Bloglines, FeedEachOther and NewsGator as well. There are also tools that interact with RSS, like Toluu, which helps you find feeds your friends like and integrates with Google Reader, and the sites dedicated to finding the most shared items in Google Reader, like ReadBurner, RSSMeme and Feedheads. (Disclosure: I am an advisor to ReadBurner)

For microblogging, beyond Twitter, you have, Plurk, and now, Rejaw. I'm signed up at each, but use Twitter primarily, copying posts to, via Posty. I need to check out Rejaw more, but am no expert.

For business networking, there's also Plaxo, which has morphed into a lifestreaming application.

For social networking, many still use MySpace, or Friendster, but Facebook has the momentum and the development on its side. Orkut never got the traction expected.

As for lifestreaming and aggregation, I am absolutely overweighted here, and I enjoy it. Justin Korn referred to it as "Super Kickass Social Network Following Power", but if you're interested, it's fairly easy to be engaged on sites like FriendFeed, Social Median and Strands all at once, like I'm trying to do.

I like FriendFeed because it easily pulls in my activity from around the Web and has a sharp community with good conversations and hiding. I like Social Median because it lets me just see news and posts on topics I pick or from people I follow. I like Strands because it has similar elements to FriendFeed, but more filtering and some good potential. I also know it can continue to improve because it’s early. Just in the last 36 hours, I've gone from being a nothing on Strands to having more than 100 people whom I can interact with.

Below this crust of leaders, you also have smaller sites like Yokway and LetsProve, where I'm registered, but haven't done much of late. FriendBinder doesn't seem to have taken off either, and BlogRize, though interesting, got quiet fast, and seems to have gone away, as did Mergelab. The truth is that we don't know which sites are going to win, and it makes sense to be registered everywhere and active on those places where you find the best community and the best content.

Of course, just because I sign up for something, or find something, doesn't mean that you're obligated to try it out. Not all sites are for everyone. But I'm far from being overloaded with Social Media. You just have to find balance, time, and keep remembering there is no quota and you don't have to read everything. Contrary to some belief, I'm not constantly on each site. I just read quickly, decide quickly and respond quickly. None of these sites is a real big time sink, unless you force yourself to read everything. It's easier to let your friends decide the best pieces, and for you to rely on search tools to get the rest, whether it be through Twitter Search, or pre-determined Google blog searches.

The only way you get social media overload is if you don't manage it well, just like you can get RSS overload or e-mail overload, or so I've heard. Even as there are more services to engage with, the number of hours you have to work with them is still the same. So do check out as many as you think have potential, and stick with the ones that offer you the community you're looking for, the engagement you need, and the best feature set. You'll find your niche.

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