How I use social media (including Twitter and Facebook) in 2009

Recently, I’ve been thinking a lot about how I use social media, and why I interact with it in the way that I do. I’ve also been thinking a lot about how I should be using social media, and if there are more things I can do to give and get better results. I credit this examination to the simple detail that I just started using Twitter on a daily basis, and it’s been an interesting and introspective time as a result (not to mention a time-consuming one).
Currently, LinkedIn, Facebook, and Twitter are the services I use most. LinkedIn is obviously business-oriented, and I spend some time every week building my network, joining groups, and browsing profiles. But beyond that, I haven’t really engaged that deeply. I suspect that’s mostly due to where I’m headed with my career and that I’m extremely content.
Facebook is a completely social site for me, and I use it to keep up with family, friends, and sort-of friends. I explore groups and associations, look at pictures, and post status updates and funny stories or pictures that I find around the Internet and want to share with people I care about. There are no real business aspects to it for me, although I am friends with many colleagues. And I can see how a business or organization could use it as a gateway for an external community and to reach their current and potential customers. I also make absolutely sure that no offensive material appears on my profile, and will even remove comments from friends if they include something that might not be appropriate for a client to see. You can never be too careful.
Twitter (which I have been using consistently for about one month now) has started out as a way to broadcast things that interest me to like-minded people. Or so I think. Right now, I view it purely as a business service, and will probably not post personal or mundane items about my life. I want to make it a good representation of who I am in business, and as it builds over time, it should serve as a simple abstract for someone that stumbles onto my profile (or happens to be researching me). It will show things I read, link to these blog entries, and summarize what I like based on who I follow. I also plan to engage more in the coming months, to start conversations and use it as an interactive service. But I want this to happen organically, and not force the process into something unnatural.
That’s a broad brush stroke of where I am in my thinking. As I sat down to write this entry, I wanted to figure out when I signed up for each of the services I use on a regular basis, and those that I no longer use. Here’s what I came up with, although some of this is an educated guess:

  • ICQ: Fall 1997 (used it immediately and stopped after using AIM)
  • AIM: Fall 1997 (used it immediately)
  • MySpace: 2004 or 2005 (used it immediately and stopped in Fall 2005)
  • LinkedIn: 2004 or 2005 (started using it in August 2006)
  • Facebook: Spring 2006 (started using it in August 2006)
  • WordPress: September 2007 (launched this blog in November 2008)
  • Twitter: July 2007 (started using it in January 2009)
  • I also visit delicious, digg, reddit, YouTube, flickr, and a plethora of other sites, although as a passive (not participatory) user.

So what does this all mean? Well, I seem to find out about a lot of services early on (probably because I work in the media and spend a lot of time on the Internet), and I usually sign up as a member in the beginning too. But then, from looking back at my pattern, I typically don’t participate until some level of critical mass is achieved, most likely with participation from my peers and associates. My guess is that I do this to save time and effort, since I tend to hate wasted energy. I’ll explore my patterns more, and share what I find right here on this blog. For now, I’d like to know more about how you use social media. Feel free to send me an email, find me on Twitter, or comment right below.