In my blog post on Windows Phone 7, I talked about the blurring line between Consumer and Business technologies. The technologies that people were using at home are rapidly becoming expected within the work environment. Never has this been more evident than with the Social Networking site, Facebook.
Facebook for business
I myself started out using Facebook purely as a personal connector – friends and family only. Very quickly, Business colleagues started to get added as “friends”, then vendors, and now I find Facebook being a Business Tool with a person slant, rather than the other way round.
Outlook Social Connector
If you’re not familiar with the Microsoft Outlook Social Connector – it’s a free plug-in for Microsoft Outlook 2010 that allows you to keep track of your friends and colleagues activities on Social Networking sites such as LinkedIn and MySpace, from within Outlook itself. There’s a great blog article over at MSDN talking about the benefits of the Outlook Social Connector and how to set it up.
The first social connector of real use (because let’s face it, how many Business contacts to *you* have on MySpace?!) was for LinkedIn. Once installed, it automatically connected your Outlook Contacts to those on LinkedIn – downloading Status Updates for you to see from within Outlook directly – and created a separate contact list with any of your LinkedIn contacts that were *not* already Outlook contacts, making them all accessible from within Outlook (as pictured right).
The Facebook connector (available for download here), once installed, adds the ability to see Facebook Status Updates for your contacts directly from within the Microsoft Outlook e-mail pane – you can expand or minimise the “More Information” panel from any e-mail as you like.
There was also the announcement of the release of a Microsoft Outlook Social Connector for Windows Live Messenger – you can grab the download here. It serves a similar purpose, although the majority of my own Live Messenger contacts don’t typically use Status Updates – although Microsoft are trying to turn that platform into a more Facebook-esque Social Networking site over the coming months.
With all of these Social Connectors, you can also request a new connection for any existing Outlook contact to Facebook, LinkedIn or Live Messenger directly from within Outlook itself. Simply click the + icon and choose the Social Network. Neat feature!
The addition of the Facebook and Live Messenger integration for Outlook 2010 is a useful one. Outlook is the majority of people’s “home base” for working from – so any tool that makes it both easier to connect to contacts to deepen the relationship, and to keep up to date on existing contacts in one location, is a bonus in my book!
Now the one social networking site most people would also love to see an Outlook Social Connector for is, of course, Twitter. Will we see one anytime soon? I wouldn’t hold my breath – but it’d be nice wouldn’t it?