How I Use Social Networking Tools

Had a quick conversation with Owen Allen yesterday after the SharePoint Connection festivities.  We got off on how do I use twitter vs. facebook, friendfeed, etc…  We decided there is no one right way…  There are many right ways (and a few wrong ones).


I like the way friend feed categorizes these various "social networking" activities, and it helps to show the categories that are possible and ultimately shows the differences, but the groupings are helpful, not saying they are perfect.

I obviously don’t use all the services above, so let me go into my favs.

Blogging –

For Blogging, I use SharePoint, I wouldn’t for a minute tell you it’s the best blogging platform.  It’s functional and takes some care and feeding, and in an internal organization it totally makes sense to take advantage of it.  Corporate blogging on internally is a different discussion, so I won’t go into the Why’s and Why Not’s here.  Other platforms I’ve used are Blogspot, WordPress, and Community Server.  Between all those I’ve used I prefer community server for it’s social features like the ping backs, track backs, and the way that google, I mean search engines seem to love it.  Blogspot almost feels to blaize, too plain and too restrictive.  I didn’t ever get use to WordPress, so I can’t complain although I wasn’t overly impressed.

With my blog I have found sharing knowledge, tips, best practices, guidance, lessons learned as well as announcements, and perspectives.  Occasionally I will use it as a marketing tool to share pictures as I see it relevant to my SharePoint blog.  Conferences are definitely where you’ll see my blog turn very social.  I do reserve the right to share whatever I want, but try to stick with technical content and the social aspects that evolve around that.

Blogging easily pays for itself in the community, visibility, and knowing I’m helping someone.  It’s huge.

Facebook – Joel Oleson

My favorite social app.  Facebook really allows me to be myself and share what’s going on both personally and professionally.  For me it’s been fun to watch these worlds collide in Facebook.  Many I know don’t do this for a reason, but for me it’s been an incredible journey the past couple of years.  Finding friends, old associates, and having rich interactions.  From a professional perspective it’s great to have such rich interactions with people from around the globe and to both see what they are doing and feel apart of it through threaded comments.  It’s more than a simple status app.  The app platform, while it’s taken a few steps back, has kept it solid and useful while at the same time I am able to share events, and interesting things in my life with hundreds of people around the globe.  Email for me is becoming stale, just not as rich.

Linked In –

Linked in is a no brainer for me.  Create the profile, add some associates from my address book… only those that are already on there, and then from those people find others… and boom a few months later you’ve got hundreds of contacts.  From a professional perspective I like the recommendations, introductions, etc…  I don’t really get into the groups.  I let linked in manage itself and do occasionally read the weekly rollups from the groups I’ve found to be relevant, but mostly this has become my rollodex.  Happy to not have to worry about keeping peoples cards.  Much prefer them to be contacts on Linked in or facebook.  Linked in is the resume that is always out there and becoming richer as I make friends and meet people.  I personally don’t log into linked in, unless I get invited or find one of the threads interesting.

Twitter –

Twitter is a bit of a one off.  I have found value in Twitter, but I do think it’s healthy to not spend a lot of time sitting on it.  It reminds me of TV a bit in that it’s great for killing time.  IT does provide a communication mechanism for allowing anyone to contact me and comment on my content or say things about me good or bad.  I really loved seeing how it was used during PDC and plan to use it in a similar way during Tech Ed and any other big conferences or during announcements.  It was fun to follow election coverage as well.  I think the future apps built on twitter will only make it more useful, so the 10-15 mins I log ever day or so is worth the investment to both gain a following and as a social filter for great content in the community.  The global search on "SharePoint" is paying off as a means to gather what people are saying or doing around SharePoint.  Great gauge of good and bad.  I do plan to put together a twitter SharePoint ranking, but I do expect some backlash from such a list.  So this is a heads up, if you want to be included, you should follow me 🙂 and/or the SharePoint team or the MVP twitter.  That’s where I’m going to start to compile my list.

So how I use twitter is for pushing out blog posts, and listening to comments and responding and having real conversations around them.  It’s great for in the moment, what’s going on and who’s saying what, but I use it in snapshots of 10-15 minutes and currently don’t put it on my calendar to do this.  Maybe we should try to do a twitter SharePoint fest where we get all of us on at once during a Q&A on some set of topics.  Sounds fun to me.  Note, I don’t really use the web interface.  TweetDeck is the best way I’ve found to use the power of twitter.  On the go I use Twitteriffic, but as I’ve gotten more friends to follow, the value has gone down since my replies and direct messages get rolled off too quick.

IM undisclosed

Messenger has it’s place.  I don’t spend a lot of time searching people out to put in my list, and I keep my list pretty tight.  I do use email for most professional conversations, but an IM is best for reaching out in a soft way to ask a quick question to someone I know, or to find out where the meeting moved (as an example).

The Chat on Facebook has allowed me to worry less about messenger and who I don’t have on my list.

Youtube –

Youtube isn’t too social for me yet.  I have posted more than a dozen videos up there, mostly travel ones or fun ones that either I or the kids have made.  The comments and responses I’ve gotten haven’t been "enlightening" or life changing/impacting.  I do have to say blogging and facebook do meet that criterion.

Flickr –

I’ve tried to make flickr a social experience.  So far, it’s a rich web UI with pictures from my recent past.  It’s a great way to share photos, but hasn’t yet become as collaborative as facebook around photos for me, so I do duplicate the best photos in both places, with facebook being the place where I put a subset.  Flickr for me is the verbose set of photos, which I plan to use as essentially cloud storage for my photos and travel videos.  You’d also find this is the only service I’m paying for in the list above.  I do pay for pro.

Dopplr –

Where am I.  Yes, I do try to update this simple app and aggregate it in a few places.  The social part is starting to come.  It was cool to see that Tony was also going to be in Vegas this week as an example.


Very rich connection capabilities.  Helps you connect with other travellers and tells you if you are close.  Imports from Facebook and Calendar.  I think this is better than Dopplr now 🙂 So I’ll likely transition to this one.  The mobile features and proximity is cool.

Friendfeed –

Friendfeed is my newest experience.  So far I am getting blog referrals from it (so it’s paying off), and I have its feed as a web part on my "personal" site/dashboard.  Where I aggregate my feeds, and news.  As far as the web goes, I have created a page for Yahoo, Google, and Live, but none of them has fit all my needs enough that I spend much time in it.  Friendfeed is an awesome aggregator of all my friends feeds, but so far, I haven’t found an easy way of aggregating it in a 5 minute view.  I plan to spend more time here, down the road, but so far, I simply use it to get referrals as I figure out how to group my friends and see what they are blogging, tweeting, and saying all aggregated into one place.  I need a new silverlight dashboard for the rich aggregation with some fancy touch based visualizer with easy pivoting and filtering.

Status Updates

I could say a lot about this… My blog post titles get pushed through to twitter, then using facebook’s twitter app to include it as a status update in which is then aggregated to friendfeed.

Blog -> Twitter -> Facebook -> FriendFeed

Also currently anything that I do amongst these does flow down this same channel.

Social Bookmarking

I’ve got a account, but I’m investigating Digg.  So far I don’t like the way it connects to my blog… not working so well.


Social Bookmarking, Online Blog readers, and more… I’ve got a ways to go…  I read most of my blogs online still, but have been using twitter and facebook blog network to filter the best ones lately.  I haven’t settled in on any desktop clients really.

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