I have written various articles on social media in the past, and a few people have asked what my favourites are. The following list is not “the best”, nor specifically “the best for application X”, rather my favourites – those I enjoy using or gain specific benefit for using.

It's a Twitter thing you wouldn't understand

10. Ning‘s (like Your Canada)
Ning is a really cool product that allows you to launch your own social networks around specific themes. Your Canada is an example of one I launched to add a social component to our popular Your Canada website.

9. FriendFeed
Everyone was getting excited about FriendFeed, the ultimate social media collaborator. It’s a cool tool because it let’s you tie all your social media activities into one stream. It can be a bit overwhelming though, so I find myself using it sparingly these days.

8. YouTube
Anonymity is still the name of the game on YouTube. As a result, you get poorly spelled and otherwise idiotic comments on videos all the time. This is too bad, given that it otherwise is the best place for exposure, and the tools to connect people socially are actually pretty good. The social aspects of video are still developing, and I suspect a number of other sites may take the lead in “social video” while Google focuses YouTube more on commercializing what they have (and doing this primarily by pushing sponsored videos, vs. an advertising model). Some to watch include Vimeo, DailyMotion, 12seconds.tv, Ustream.tv, blip.tv, and about a few dozen others.

7. Flickr
Yahoo! has one product that kicks ass and totally owns it’s vertical, and that is Flickr. Flickr is the best social medium for sharing photos/images. Picasa is Google’s alternative, and it is OK. A few others are Photobucket and Flixya, but they are a long way from successful at this point.

6. Digg
The DiggBar has revolutionized Digg (much to the chagrin of the ol’ skool Diggers). I use it all the time, and am a bit of a Diggaholic now. It’s a great tool for sharing interesting stuff you find on the web. It also has some great integration tools to very easily share “Dugg” stuff on Facebook and Twitter. I use Digg every single day.

5. Instant Messaging
Three years ago this was number one (followed by blogging and online forums). Three years ago, I did 100% of my instant messaging using MSN Messenger. Two years ago, 80% was MSN and 20% was GoogleTalk. Today, 50% is Facebook, 30% is GoogleTalk and 20% is MSN. As always, ICQ and AIM are 0%. Instant messaging is still a great way to get ahold of people in a hurry.

4. Blogging
I love to blog. I have at least 5 blogs I update regularly, and I love posting comments to other people’s blogs (which is what makes it a social medium). I also love WordPress; I am a total convert to the platform. I even organized a WordCamp in Victoria a few weeks ago, which was tonnes of fun.

3. Facebook
I was a Facebook holdout for ages, but have grown to like it. I like it because almost everyone I know is there. The platform itself is annoying sometimes, and frustrating at others, but they have the critical mass, so it remains a tool I continue to use, even if I use it despite itself.

2. LinkedIn
LinkedIn is great for business. At a recent presentation I gave at the University of Victoria to all of their business students, I asked several hundred students how many of them were on Facebook, and almost every hand went up. I then asked how many were on LinkedIn, and about 5 hands went up (I think a few of those hands were faculty, too). This is ashame. LinkedIn is a great tool for business, but also for career building. The guy sitting next to you in class today might be CEO of some big corporation in 10 years. Stay in touch and add them to your network on LinkedIn. I’m not sure if I got through to them or not.

LinkedIn is easy, passive and a great way to introduce people. It’s sort of like a virtual business mixer, but doesn’t require you to smile and dress nicely.

1. Twitter
Even people who love Twitter make fun of it. Twitter is an amazing tool for connecting with people and getting a message out. Through the power of the retweet, your potential network is huge. That conference I organized back in #4 above – I used Twitter as the primary medium through which to promote it, and over 100 local (and international) people showed up. Not too shabby for something people love to make fun of.

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I’ll review my list every once in awhile as my tastes change. It’ll be interesting to look back in the future and see what has changed.

I can already say that “FriendFeed” used to be much higher up the list, and I expect there is a good chance Google Wave and Foursquare will appear here in the next year or two. The influence of mobile and video (and mobile video) should introduce a few new angles to the equation, too.

A few others that I use that didn’t make the top list are Plaxo (11), Yelp (12), Identi.ca (13), Vimeo (14), Meetup (15), SlideShare (16), MySpace (17), and StumbleUpon (18). I have profiles on a few others, but don’t use them much.

I’m always happy to connect with people I know on any of these networks, see my social media links in the right column to link to my profile, or visit my Contact page.