As we become increasingly time-starved, maintaining a social media footprint can be a monumental task. Where should you be active socially? I audited my own efforts, and was stunned by what I found

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON, USA – December 31, 2009 – Lately I’ve been contemplating the end of social media as we know it, and started wondering how I might better manage my own social media footprint as well as my time spent online. I knew I was on quite a few sites but of course, unsure of how many.

I’ve been a very fortunate guy: my jobs have often included trying out sites and apps to see what might work for clients. This past decade was about experimentation; exploring new sites, trying out new tools, and seeing which ones “took.” Well, social sites and tools have pretty much settled down in the last year. Time to get less experimental and more strategic.

I went digging to find out all the places I’ve “represented” online, coming up with over eighty social venues. And I’m active on at least forty. What. The. Hell. No wonder I’m time-starved!

Those new to social media often ask me where they should participate. Obviously I don’t depress them by recommending all the places shown below but if’n yer getttin’ started, the notes will give you an idea of where you might participate given your interests.

Here’s a list of the sites I maintained as my “social media footprint” as we wrapped up the “Aughts.”

My 2004-2009 Social Media Footprint

Social Networking

So many social networks, so little time. I started my networking back in the day with Ryze, Orkut and Tribe – most of which are gone or have morphed into less successful fare than Facebook or LinkedIn. Who’d have thought back then that social networking would become the rage?

  • Facebook (personal and professional – send an intro message along with the friend request)
  • LinkedIn (professional)
  • Xing (professional – Europe)
  • MediaPost (professional)
  • Plaxo (largely unused)
  • Gather (older community – unused)
  • MySpace (personal – disused since 2007)
  • AdGabber (disused since 2007)
  • Orkut (2004-2006)
  • Marzar (disused since 2007)
  • Tagworld (unused)
  • Hi5 (unused)

Long-Form Thought Sharing (blogs)

Blogs are great for intellectual capital sharing in long format. They also allow a level of customization that you can’t get through social networking sites.

I had separated my personal and professional thought sharing using two different sites, but as we move into 2010, I’m combining everything here on EricWeaver.com. I just don’t have time to maintain six blogs. It’s ridiculous. I’ll cut this down to 3-4 this coming year.

Short-Form Thought Sharing (microblogging)

In the beginning, there was Twitter, Pownce and Jaiku. Didn’t take long for Twitter to come out on top.

My only issue with Twitter is that it’s so public—and so permanent. I am digging the idea of closed-network, invite-only thought sharing where I can vent, fawn, rage and generally just be myself without fear of clients, prospects or neighbors listening in. I will likely automate a lot of my Twitter activity this year and move my microblogging to Plurk.

Audio Blogging

Who doesn’t love the sound of their own voice? Okay, maybe most of us. There’s something about audio blogging that I love…I just wish the tools were more responsive, provided more control and weren’t overrun by spammers. Utterli (formerly Utterz) was great when it started. Now it’s a repository for shyite. The servers are slow to respond and none of its competitors are any better. *sigh*

Centralized Profiles/Avatars

More and more sites are coming online that let you create a centralized profile. Google’s recent addition really nails it with tremendous functionality. Basically, if you want to be found online, profiles.google.com is the place to be. And it’s free.

Naymz is a third-party profile site that includes content aggregation (see below) but also provides a free Google AdWords buy as part of your paid membership. Whenever you do a Google search for Eric Weaver, my Naymz text ad appears on the right side of the search results. And Naymz lets me enter characters in the ad that the official AdWords program would never allow. SuhWEET.

  • Naymz (professional profile + content aggregator + reputation measurement + ad platform)
  • Google (professional)
  • ZoomInfo (professional)
  • Qapacity (professional)
  • Meez (disused)
  • Wink (disused since 2008)

Content Aggregators

Content aggregators are sites that compile your social media “output” and save it in one place. If you want to stalk someone online, an aggregator is your best bet. That said, many aggregators allow you to customize your profile and which social content you want to include.

Live Events/Liveblogging/Live Video

As bandwidth increases and webcams and smartphones proliferate, we’ll see more of these sites. Ustream is the undisputed leader. These sites are fantastic for event support and live “reporting.”

Link, News, and Article Sharing

Ahh, Digg. Site of many an online battle waged between the intolerant, closed-minded and utterly biased. Almost as many lame, banal and teenaged comments as YouTube but notttt quiiiite.

Event Sharing

Whether you want to let people know which events you’re attending, maintain an event calendar, or connect with others in the meatspace, these sites are the ones you should be using.

Goal Sharing

Public goal sharing is a huge motivator to stay faithful to those commitments. The 43 sites (43places, 43things, etc.) were the rage back in 2005-2006.

Location Sharing

Location-based activities and content will be the big boom in 2010. Foursquare, for example, has had huge uptake based on the fun, competitive aspects of the site along with its fantastic iPhone app.

I don’t share my location freely—letting strangers know when you’re not home is asking for trouble—so if you want to tune in, I’ll need to know and trust you. If we haven’t met, there’s no way in hell I’m sharing my location. It’s just a bit too stalky.

Photo Sharing

How we love to share our puh-ho-toes! Here are the usual suspects.

Presentation and Document Sharing

Preso and doc sharing is a really great way to demonstrate your intellectual capital. SlideShare is the king for sharing PowerPoint files. Just be aware that all of these sites have trouble converting strange fonts. Many PDFs come out looking wonky and they can give the mistaken impression that you don’t know how to craft a decent preso. I know SlideShare is working on this but it’s a bit frustrating.

Video Sharing

Video, like location-based content, will be continue to grow in 2010. It’s just far easier watching video than reading text content. The only issue is that YouTube in particular draws really banal, childish comments from anonymous posters, so if you don’t like people dissing your appearance, don’t post your likeness on YouTube.

I’m using Vimeo for professional video sharing. It’s clean, easy and quite a powerful tool. Viddler, LiveVideo and others are far less polished.

Music Sharing

Music sharing is a pretty personal activity and good for building personal affinity with others. As a professional “footprint” it’s not necessarily recommended unless you’re a composer/songwriter. I share my musical faves using Blip but no longer have time to network with others like i used to. I post my Blips to a separate Twitter account so that people can subscribe to my music separately from my professional content.

Opinion, Ranking and Recommendation Sites

Consumer reviews are among the most trusted bits of information about a business—even with the occasional troll. The problem is that you typically have to either really love or hate a place to take the time to review it. So you get extremes. Here are the places where I very occasionally share my own epinions.

Next post: how to consolidate your social media presence

Seriously, how can anyone truly take the time to tend so many online gardens? Several of the sites listed above have lost user momentum. Several have become havens for spammers and porn sites. And many are being rolled up into Google or Yahoo. I predict that many more “Web 2.0” labors of love will vanish in 2010 and beyond.

This post has taken me hours to compile—a classic example of what’s wrong with social media. MEDIA CREATION TAKES TIME! I’ll put some thought into how to consolidate a footprint and post my recommendations in a separate post. Stay tuned…

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