Mario Sundar's Speakeasy

Spero Ventures. Early LinkedIn, Twitter. These are my thoughts on tech, brand, marketing and community.

Social Networking to destroy email?

IBM’s Social Computing Evangelist Luis Suarez (LinkedIn Profile) writes a piece in the New York Times (LinkedIn Company Profile) on the impending death of email and it’s replacement by social networking.

Anyways, here’s the gist:

Email doesn’t work – Hide from email – Inbox stops growing – everyone happy (or something to that effect) – Solution: Social Networking

Too much email

My take: I’m a social networking early adopter (being the community evangelist at LinkedIn helps) and I’ve finally narrowed down my social networking choices to LinkedIn (d’uh!), Facebook and Twitter (with Friend Feed adding to this Inbox multiplicity dilemma!)

What this has created is 6 email inboxes in my life (outlined below) with the addition of one IM client, and I empathize with those who participate in more than 3 social networks.

1. Home – Gmail (I LOVE Gmail! Makes life so much easier and allows me to send email from other aliases. Wish I just had to contend with Gmail)

2. Work – Microsoft Entourage (Please don’t get me started on it!)

3. LinkedIn – I spend a ton of time every day on my professional network of choice and receive and send a ton of messages with my colleagues. I also use this to share news with my professional network.

4. Twitter – Love the immediacy and inevitably check this inbox once every day

5. Facebook – Receive messages but rarely check them; maybe once a week (sometimes not)

6. Friend Feed – Force myself to check it since some folks like Pirillo, Arrington & Winer have started using it for conversations. Personally not convinced yet.

7. In addition to the above Inboxes, I do use Adium for my IM needs (esp. trying to contact my colleagues at work, when I need a quick answer). Adium allows me to pull in a ton of IM clients into one sweet interface.

How many Inboxes do you manage today?

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

Check your Xobni now? It’s now LinkedIn!

Ha, that was a play on the fact that Xobni is actually Inbox spelled backwards. Still confused? Well, Xobni is a company whose ambition it is to make navigating your complex email inbox simpler. What they offer is a “new way to organize and search your Outlook email.”

In a nutshell, Xobni, reflects your email relationships more accurately and this could prove to be quite efficient in your work email and could enhance your productivity. Today, they took that one step further by pulling additional data from your LinkedIn network. (Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn)

Xobni\'s LinkedIn Plug-in
[Image Source: The Xobni Blog]

TechCrunch says:

The partnership with LinkedIn makes Xobni even more useful. It’s too bad Xobni users are still limited to Outlook and Microsoft Windows (though there’s a web-based version for Yahoo Mail on the way).

Anyhow, if you’re not a MS Outlook user (like me) but are a big fan of Firefox, I can show you how to add a LinkedIn Firefox plug-in that allows you to stay close to your professional network as you browse the web. Actually the LinkedIn plug-in was one of 8 plug-ins featured when Firefox 3 launched recently. Take a look.

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Filed under: LinkedIn Features

Do you have a social networking strategy?

Better devise a strategy soon, else you’ll fritter away a lot of your time on social networks. Yesterday, I blogged about social networking tactics, in particular the habit of updating your status on social networks. Today, I happened to stumble upon a couple of posts on social networking strategy that is worth sharing.

Too many social networking sites
[Image Source: Shefaligur]

The Dissipation Strategy

Mike Gunderloy from Web Worker Daily, a productivity blog, asks his readers for their social networking strategy. Most readers don’t seem very particular and suggest that they dabble in quite a few. Take Roberto for e.g.:

I use clipmarks, twitter, facebook, linked-in and hi5 for social networking. I use each of them with different audiences in mind. For examply, hi5 is exclusively for close Spanish speaking friends and family, facebook for coworkers, non-Spanish speaking friends and more casual acquaintances.

Solution: “Social Networking Trinity”

[Image Source: Canon Snapper]

While that may work for some, I doubt they’ll be able to sustain their interest in a plethora of social networking sites for long. My strategy lies closer with this blog post that I read earlier today.

It’s the “perfect storm” for online social networking, isn’t it? You have a place to stay connected (and find) family and friends, a place to hang out that keeps you “in the loop” and a place to connect with those who can help propel your career forward.

While, Mitch doesn’t use Facebook I think he’s just broken down his usage into two kinds – social and professional and IMO the twain shall never meet. But this is far better than the long list of sites some of us try to manage.

Also, in my case, I’d replace MySpace with Twitter, since that’s what helps me to be “in the loop” so to speak, but otherwise this is a succinct definition of what your social networking strategy should be.

Given my personal affinity for LinkedIn (please read my job description on the right), let me leave you with Mitch’s definition of LinkedIn:

LinkedIn is all about building your professional stature. It’s all about making the right connections, so that your future can be brighter than your past.

LinkedIn is all about establishing initial contact, building that trust over time and being able to connect to those business people more effectively in the future.


What is YOUR social networking strategy?

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Filed under: Miscellaneous

How often do you update your Status?

What started as a trickle, has now become a full-fledged industry standard. Yes, I’m talking about those tiny status updates you see on every social network. Let’s not forget that as much as the once derided IM has become a productivity tool, and IMO so will Status messages. But, with great awareness comes great adoption and finally confusion on how to use them efficiently.

Social Networks

In my experience there are two kinds of network updates I encounter these days: one comes from the simple content creator networks like Twitter, blogs, etc… which then feed into a container network such as FriendFeed. So, let’s take a look at proper network update etiquette & frequency for the two types.

1. Stand-alone Network Updates (where Conversations are started)

* Your Blog – Optimal # of content updates would be 2-3 short posts or 1 thought piece a day

* Twitter – Many, many times a day 🙂 – Add me on Twitter

* Facebook – Posted Items & status (purely social) many times a day

* LinkedIn – Professional status update once a day – Here’s my professional brand

2. Consolidated Network Updates (where Conversations happen)

* FriendFeed – Never – Follow me on Friendfeed

I know. I just let FriendFeed populate with updates from all my other stand-alone networks from Twitter to Pandora. It’s interesting that Facebook is now trying to move from being a conversation starter to being a conversation playground like FriendFeed. A case in point is their opening up of comments within the News feed earlier today.

How many social networks are you a part of and how often do you update content?

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Filed under: Facebook, Linkedin, Miscellaneous, Twitter

“Mavens” hold the key to Social Networking’s Future

Yes, I’m talking about “Mavens” as defined by Malcolm Gladwell’s “Tipping Point“. I think we can safely draw a comparison between those three groups (see below image) and the concept of “content creators” within the social networking ecosystem, one that’s been much discussed recently (via posts from Fred Wilson and Don Dodge – more after the jump).

(Source: David Armano)

Two Schools of Social Networking thought:

1. 1% creators –

Generally in a group of 100 people online, one will create content, 10 will “interact” with it (commenting or adding to it) and the other 89 will just view it. But, everyone benefits from the activities of the whole group. (Source: Don Dodge via Bradley Horowitz)

2. 100% creators –

Honestly I am not envisioning anything other than this; every single human being posting their thoughts and experiences in any number of ways to the Internet. (Source: Fred Wilson)

So, if you extrapolate Fred’s prediction to Don’s model in the earlier example, the understanding is that in the future, 100% of everyone online will be a “content creator”. Let me ask you – how many of you have ever created content on a social network? (e.g. posting an item on Facebook or submitting an article on LinkedIn News). Leave a comment.

The Future:

The truth as they say has gotta lie somewhere in between. And, if you’re still scratching your head wondering who is a “content creator”, here’s a Gladwell’s definition on the three “agents of change” for a social epidemic.

They are: “connectors”, “mavens”, and “salesmen” and a superficial reading shows us that the content creators we’re talking here are the “mavens”:

“people we rely upon to connect us with new information.”[6] They accumulate knowledge, especially about the marketplace, and know how to share it with others.” (Source: Wikipedia)

Now whichever school of thought you fall under (1% or 100%) the one undeniable conclusion from the above blog posts, is that the future of social networking lies with these “mavens”. While Don and Bradley say they constitute 1% of the network, Fred says every one on the web will become an “information specialist”. My good friend Jeremiah, says as of today the numbers lie somewhere in between the above theories (Source: Forrester).

Where do you think the future of social networking lies? How much do you contribute?

(Disclosure: I work at LinkedIn, a professional networking site, and these are my personal opinions as are all other posts on this blog. Thanks for reading. Care to Subscribe?)

Filed under: Miscellaneous