I've always find it hard staying in touch with friends and family when I am backpacking. Email doesn't work for me. Though I LOVE receiving emails from family and friends, to be honest, it takes a long time to rely to everyone. You pretty much say the same thing in each email and duplicating what you write in your travel journal (if you have one).
It is much easier to keep a blog, a central location, for your family and friends to get an update from you. The auto feed photo feature is awesome. Friends and family can comment on your status and such. Works well and save me time from writing in my travel journal too!!!