The world of social media has got very exciting indeed this month with big players Google and Microsoft both flexing their muscles in the social networking arena.

Google launched Buzz for Gmail on 9th February – allowing users to integrate social networking with their email management.  There have been various teething problems and criticisms including privacy issues and the fact that you may not want to have personal updates from some of your email contacts whom you have only emailed once.  However, the figures speak for themselves with Google reporting over 160, 000 Google Buzz posts and comments per hour.

Google Buzz has failed to capture my imagination though for one simple reason: I am not a Gmail user.  In my capacity as Digital prefect I have of course read up extensively on the development and I am almost intrigued enough to set up an account just to have a go.  Almost.  But not quite.

Then enter Microsoft into the ring with new social networking partners Facebook and MySpace.  The announcement comes hot on the heels of the LinkedIn partnership formed back in November.  This news leaves me hardly able to contain my excitement.  Many are already complaining that Facebook and MySpace are not the appropriate sites to integrate into Outlook, which is largely a business tool, and I quite agree – I use my Facebook account purely for personal reasons (as well as a little social media based research….), the LinkedIn partnership on the other hand is perfectly positioned.

However, these critics seems to be somewhat missing the point, what is exciting is that a key player is forming relationships with existing social networking sites that we know and love.  I don’t have to wander into the unfamiliar land of Gmail and GoogleBuzz if I can embrace the warm and cuddly, familiar territory of Facebook with my existing email client.  I hope that this integration spreads across other email clients, managing my LinkedIn through outlook and my Facebook through Hotmail would be a dream come true indeed…