Too many social media networks, too little time

It all started last year (2010) when I realised FourSquare didn’t really offer me anything of value as a private person eventhough I find it fascinating as a digital professional. Up until that point I had done everything I could to secure any online profile with my name, but with so many profiles I had lost the overview and my FourSquare profile was the first to get culled.

With more an more emerging social networks I believe it is going to be increasingly important for all of us to look at each of our online profiles with the eyes of the Devil’s advocate and ask: What’s in it for me?

I originally intended this article to be a catalogue of my own online profiles and an evaluation of each and what value they bring me. However the list was longer than I expected and in the end I decided it wouldn’t really be of any benefit to anybody but myself. What I do hope may be of benefit is what I learned through this exersize.

Lesson No. 1: My social media fix

Some networks I can’t do without. They form part of both my social and professional life and they are:

  • Twitter – My absolute favourite personal and professional network, possibly because it is a mix of both.
  • Facebook – I still keep this purely personal and the main catch is all my friends are on it.
  • Linkedin – My professional profile and it does play a major role in my work.
  • Flickr Now this was a bit of an eye opener for me. I did not consider Flickr one of my must-have networks until I looked at it objectively and realised how much I actually use it.

Key learning: Some networks may prove to be much more indispensable than you think.

Lesson No. 2: Digital nostalgia

While going through my online profiles I realised that some profiles I keep live simply for nostalgic reasons. For me it especially applied to my Posterous account. I closed my first blog in 2001 feeling I didn’t have enough to write to maintain it.

Then Twitter sparked me into public online writing and when I ran out of characters Posterous was there to help. Only months later did I realise I suddenly had a blog. But when the time came to redesign my online portfolio I migrated from flat HTML to WordPress and suddenly had a blog environment on my site and no need for Posterous any longer.

Eventhough I no longer use my Posterous account it simply doesn’t feel right to delete it… hence I am keeping it.

Key learning: If in doubt; keep it. Loosing your online profile only to find out later you want it back is stupid especially if it also means loosing content.

Lesson No. 3: Clone Wars

The biggest problem I found going through my networks was the sheer amount of duplicated functionality.

Lesson No. 3B: Flickr vs the world

In my quest to cull I discovered a multitude of online profiles that I could easily migrate to my Flickr account. These includes PicassaWeb and YouTube, both good networks but for me personally I don’t think I need to maintain accounts for these.

Interestingly enough I would have liked to add, and to some extend to the list of networks I could replace with my Flickr account but I can’t.

Yfrog and TwitPic are integrated so smoothly with Twitter that they do server a specific purpose… if only the Flickr iPhone app had a manual “tweet now” button, then I wouldn’t need them as I’d rather manually tweet from Flickr than having to worry about additional photo accounts.

Similarly if Flickr integrated with Facebook then I wouldn’t need to upload photos twice, but the way I have divided it is that private photos go on Facebook, public photos on Flickr and it does work for me.

Key Learning: There are lots and lots of duplicated functionalities out there, but do look twice before deleting a seemingly duplicated profile, it may hold a single functionality you rely on more than you realise.

The bigger picture: What does it mean for social networks?

The social network sphere is saturated. While I think is a great idea I can’t help but feel it would be better suited to be part of or Yahoo Answers.

And with rumours flying around I wonder how can it ever be the Facebook killer people predicts it to be? Not matter how great it is it will be missing one thing, the single most important thing: My friends. All my friends are on Facebook. They are not digital professionals, they don’t get “high” on new movements in the online industry, they just want to be where their friends are… which is Facebook.

So for to ever compete with Facebook they would have to not only move my friends, but their friends as well and their friends and their friends and so on and so forth…it simply won’t happen!

Google Buzz is a great example of this. Great tool, but why? I already have Twitter and bear in mind I am a big Google fan.

I think the opportunity is in small exclusive networks. Networks specialising in a defined target group. Good examples of this are and but I am sure there are loads out there and even more trying to get started.

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