I recently had a very bad experience with Facebook that has given me cause to re-evaluate both Facebook and Myspace. This is a rant of sorts since I just wasted 2 hours on FaceBook and produced nothing.
Social mediums are excellent tools but it seems that a social site should have an underlying purpose to make it useful. For example, YouTube has a common ground that links all of the users, this of course would be the millions of videos uploaded to the site. As a benefit of using YouTube, one may create an account, create a profile page, mark favorites, rate and comment on videos, declare friendships, and exchange PM's. It sounds just like any other social site except that YouTube has a distinct and identifiable use.
On the other hand, FaceBook and Myspace exist for the sole purpose of simply being there. Oh sure, the sites have evolved over time to include some useful tools but the underlying premise behind them is simple: Be here. Twitter is in the same boat and while one might argue that it is useful in the fact that you can read other tweats by others, the bottom line is that most people are on Twitter to be seen, not to see.
So why do we endure these sites? We endure these sites because we feel that we must not get overlooked. I can't begin to express the number of clients I've had that insisted on having a Myspace and FaceBook profile despite the fact that they already have their own domain. "I want people to be able to find me on Myspace" is a common explanation I get.
So here we are, all engaged in self-promotion, we have our blogs, our MySpace and FaceBook pages, we have our twitter accounts, our Digg accounts, and any number of additional social accounts all designed to do just one thing, bring us more exposure and half the time the mechanics of the site fail us so we ended up wasting time trying to figure out why feature a is not working properly instead of working on something more productive.. I fear that these sites may all be a huge time sink, novelties that offer little in terms of well targeted traffic to our main sites. But I, like you, cannot pull away from the social sites because they are so commonly accepted that any business that does not have profile pages may be seen as outside of the loop, I know this and my clients know this.