Twitter is probably the social media tool I post to most frequently. With close to 700 followers and 700 people I follow, I enjoy the quick and easy perusing of other people's tweets, the sharing of interesting / useful / important links, and the witty repartee that can result. Since joining in 2008 and initially making fun of it, I've come to embrace the challenge of saying something meaningful or interesting in such a small number of words.
I've found a good mix of Twitter accounts to follow that both give me access to articles, ideas and resources I know I'll find interesting, and accounts that challenge me to think differently about the world. I try to follow at least one link every day to a resource/site/article that I know I'll profoundly disagree with.
I don't bother trying to catch up on what I've missed on Twitter. If I go on vacation or end up spending a few days away from it, I've resisted the urge to review older tweets beyond the last 12 hours or so.
I often use Twitter to research "breaking news" or other very current events. When there's a power outage in my town, Twitter usually quickly gives all the details of how wide-spread it is and whether the power company is "on it." If I'm having trouble with a software tool or website that others use, I can usually find at least a few mentions of it on Twitter within a few seconds, well before the company/vendor might publish a notice or before there are longer blog posts and news updates documenting the issue.
Twitter also seems like the tool where there's the most inconsistency and room for improvement in the apps and web-based tools for posting to it. I've not yet found a Twitter client that doesn't make me cringe in some way about the user interface or workflow.
My article about ways to use Twitter without having a Twitter account remains one of the most frequently visited posts on my site.
I go through different seasons in my relationship with Facebook. Sometimes it seems like a great place to connect, discuss, reminisce, share and network. Other times it feels like a wasteland of inauthentic, corrosive interactions that are a distraction from real life. Most of the time it's at least amusing in some way, and I get to see different sides of people that I might have limited contact with otherwise. On average I'd say I visit it at least once per day for a few minutes at a time, if only to keep testing my theory that there are 12 kinds of social media status updates.
I still have a very limited Facebook profile, rarely post anything personal, and try to avoid giving Facebook or its app developers access to digital information I'd rather keep ownership of (e.g. photos, who I'm related to how, etc). I tend to only "friend" people who I have had some kind of real-world interaction with, and who I trust not to misuse their access to my thoughts and activities.
I never initiate "friend" requests with people when there might be a power relationship that could remotely imply negative consequences if they don't accept - e.g. my employees, staff or contacts in other organizations where I have any substantial decision-making authority, etc. - and instead wait for them to initiate if they so choose.
Now that Facebook has better support for "followers" - Facebook users with whom I am not officially "friends" but who can still see my public-facing posts in their news feed - I no longer maintain a separate Facebook Page for this blog. It's great to know that a purely professional contact can choose to follow my public posts without having to navigate the question of whether we're "friends" in the Facebook sense.
I tend to unfriend people who use Facebook to spread hate or discrimination unless I think I have a real opportunity to engage them in a way that makes a difference for both of us.
I make liberal use of the "hide all updates from this person" option, sometimes because I want to reduce my consumption of stories about pets/children/politics/food/first-world-problems, but sometimes because I want to make sure I intentionally seek out interactions with that person and don't accept a passing glance of their online updates as a substitute for real relationship.
I'm sometimes invited to join - or am automatically added to - Facebook groups about topics that I may or may not have an interest in. Facebook sometimes uses our membership in groups to help encourage other friends to join those groups, including displaying member profile photos at the top of the group page. I've left a few groups where the conversation was disrespectful or downright toxic, mainly because I didn't want my ambient membership to be used as an endorsement of that group's activities.
I've turned off almost all email and mobile notifications from Facebook, and I'm glad I did. Sometimes business contacts send me messages on Facebook asking about professional matters, and I try to move these conversations to email since I think it's a much better medium for conducting business and preserving / quoting / referring to past conversations.
I see LinkedIn as a web-based professional resume building and sharing service. If I go to a conference or networking event and meet someone I want to stay connected to in some form, I like that I can usually find them on LinkedIn and that the initiation of a connection there is largely understood to be for professional purposes only. If I'm about to meet with someone who I haven't seen in a while, LinkedIn can be helpful to see what they've been up to professionally and to remind me of their interests.
I like that LinkedIn shows me how different people are connected to other people I'm connected to. As someone who has worn a lot of hats in a small city, and who has interacted with a lot of people in my work (but not always had the opportunity to meet them in person), it's a great way to be reminded of who knows who and how. I sometimes find myself humming "it's a small world after all" as I browse.
I appreciate that LinkedIn has recently started trying to harness its users` knowledge of each others` skills and expertise with the whole "endorsement" system, but it seems like they've forgotten a key aspect of what would make this useful. If someone endorses me for a skill that they themselves don't have much or any professional knowledge of or experience with, should that really be used to beef up my own profile? They've made it so easy for someone to casually endorse someone else that I think they're diluting the power of that transaction. Case in point: most of the 22 endorsements I have for my knowledge of the "Apache" web server software are from people who likely do not know what Apache is or does, so how do they know that I'm good at configuring/managing/deploying it?
Most of my use of this photo sharing service is about cost-effective storage of and access to my own photos, and less about interacting with other people's photos. But I really like how easy it has become to get photos into Flickr from my desktop or mobile devices, and how easy they make it to re-use those images elsewhere such as on my blog.
Flickr has done the right thing when it comes to giving users ownership and control over the licensing of their content, and the ability to limit access to some photos to friends and/or family at the same time is great.
I sometimes use Flickr's RSS feed of photos posted by my friends/contacts on the site to see in my external news reader when there are new updates to view.
I don't use or visit my Google+ profile on any regular basis. I don't have anyone in any circles and so far have not found a reason to start assigning them. Once in a while I publicly post a link to a blog entry that I think will be of particular interest to the growing number of online connections who use Google+ instead of or more than Facebook and Twitter.
I realize that Google is trying to maintain a sense that the content posted there is personally curated by its users instead of automatically posted from lots of other external sources, but I know that I would use Google+ more if I could automatically post to my profile there from my WordPress blog. It seems a bit strange to distinguish between a link I paste in to their web-based interface and a link I submit through an API.
I still use the social bookmarking service Delicious, although less for the "social" and more for the "bookmarking." I like that I can save pages I want to reference later from anywhere I'm browsing and know that I'll be able to find them later by date or keyword. This is especially useful when I'm preparing or updating my public speaking presentations on a given topic, and want to go back and find links I've encountered that reinforce a point.
Delicious says I have close to 6,500 followers on the site and has said that I'm a "featured user," but it's not clear to me what either of those data points means.
If you were to view my Delicious feed, you'd probably get some insight into what topics I was researching or thinking about on a given day. It's sometimes interesting to see what comments others have made as they save the same links.
I have a YouTube channel, but I don't upload new videos very often. I rarely comment on YouTube videos, though I try to hit "Like" on the ones that I've really appreciated.
I subscribe to a bunch of other people's channels, and then use YouTube's RSS feed for those subscriptions to be aware of new videos being uploaded in my external news reader.
Don't use it for anything personal, don't currently have any intention of using it.
I think that about covers it. There are lots of other online social spaces that I use now and then - Amazon's reviews, NetFlix's rating system, IRC channels, etc. - but I don't have as much to say about those for now.
How are you using social media tools in your life? Are there seasons or other trends you've noticed in your usage, and what you get out of the experience?