So the real question is, what parts of the Social Media Platform consume my time and give me value? Today I think it is these things:
There are some parts of the platform that cry out for my participation, but continue to fail me (mostly by not providing value in proportion to the amount of effort required).
Here's why I say that:
To start with the successes:
Google Mail - This continues to be the top performing web-based email client that I can find. Remember that I've used just about every email client that's come down the pike since 1992. I've used Unix mail, elm, pine, Eudora, Outlook and a half dozen others. When Google released it's web-based email client I found that it offered something new, and a lot of stuff that needed to be there from before -- but actually working just right. Not only do I use gmail for my email reading and sending, but I also use its hook to Google Buzz to keep me in touch with my friends in another way. It's good stuff.
Facebook - I took this into my heart slowly and with a lot of caution at first. But even with some of the shortcomings on the platform, it's the best choice that's come along for being in touch with my friends, some of whom only go online once or twice a month. And for my friends who are active there, I feel like I see them almost every day and know all about what's going on in their lives.
Twitter - Not everybody gets Twitter. It actually takes some effort to delve through the hype and the superficial perspectives about what it is to discover the elegance and beauty. I won't attempt to evangelize here, if you don't like Twitter or don't see its value -- great! Don't let it bother you. But just realize that some of us find a tremendous amount of value in participation and it's available to the attentive and the tenacious. If you ask, I will tell you why I see it that way.
LinkedIn - I love this platform because it's simple, non-invasive, and it provides the opportunity for us to document our professional persona in a way that can be seen by anyone. I don't keep my resume up to date any more because it's easier and more effective to see my credentials and evidence of my career accomplishments on this system. I know that not all organizations and their HR staffers know how to use this well, but those are not the companies for whom I wish to work anyway. It's a good filter.
YouTube - This is often overlooked as a social media site, but that's precisely what is available to someone who's willing to create and groom a presence there. I've not even begun to fully realize the value that's available here, but I have a feeling that this platform (or its successors) will be a much more important part of the social media fabric in the coming years.
I mentioned several sites that fail to engage me and I should stay something about why I think that's so.
MySpace - I don't know why this fails to grip me. They try hard, and they have provided a lot of tools for musicians and performing artists. But somehow the platform just doesn't call me out to participate. I feel like I'm in someone else's hometown abroad when I'm logged in there. There's nothing wrong with it, but I just don't crave visiting it every day (or even once a week).
Yahoo Groups - this used to be one of my mainstays for social collaboration, but in recent years it has become a sleazy wasteland. Where I'm a member of groups that have open membership, I mostly get only Viagra and adult web site ads in my email. I hate the practice of having them embed ads in the body of email messaging, not because I oppose advertising, but I oppose intrusive advertising.
Plaxo - This site doesn't offend me, and I like the fact that it makes it possible to keep up to date on my friends' contact information, but there's nothing about this site that makes me want to participate daily or better, the way Facebook and Twitter do. In spite of early mistakes Plaxo made by carpet bombing the contact lists of their early adopters, they've come around and act responsibly now as members of the social media community. But I'm just not entranced here.
Google Wave - All the results are not in on this yet. I think there's some hope for Wave as a collaboration medium. and I like the idea of being an early participant. But so far my attempts to make something of this platform have been more work and less bacon. I haven't given up, but I think it will take something special emerging from the culture at Wave before the goods are evident.
I didn't mention Yelp! (which I like and contribute to regularly) or Foursquare (which seems like fun but hasn't appealed to me as an endeavor that matches my participation style). There are some other systems that also merit mention, but this covers the highlights from the perspective of how I use the platform today.