Saturday, December 29, 2007

Spock - Social network power tool

Back at the Web 2.0 Expo in the spring Spock launched. For those of you that have not checked it out Spock can be described as the Web's Who's Who. In the nine months since it launched it has grown significantly in richness. One of the things I have realized is that an awful lot of LinkedIn users are also on Spock. 
In the last few weeks I have spent some time looking around on Spock. I realized that I am one of the top 500 Spock users. That was a big surprise. All I had done is tag people that I discovered with tags that were relevant to them.
I have also been using Plaxo and Plaxo's Pulse service. Plaxo is a great way to keep up with what friends and colleagues are doing. The biggest benefit I find from Plaxo is the integration it provides with the address book on my Mac. This integration keeps me up to date when people I know, who are also on plaxo, update their contact information. 
Now, I have been following the tales of people like Robert Scoble on their use of Facebook and hitting the limit of 5,000 friends. I have also been experimenting with Facebook and MySpace but get frustrated because some of the locations I work from actually block FaceBook and MySpace - Luddites!
There has been a lot of debate about the merits of Facebook versus LinkedIn. Personally, I believe they are complimentary, more than competitive. However, during all this experimentation I think I may have stumbled upon an incredibly powerful solution for social networking. What is that power combination?
LinkedIn + Spock + Plaxo.
LinkedIn is a great service for professional networking. Spock is a great people search engine that helps you discover people on Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, Pownce, Twitter and other social networks. Plaxo provides great feeds to keep me up to date on friends activities and posts and more importantly keeps their contact information up to date. I still realize that the majority of people I want to connect with have LinkedIn accounts. Each of these services plays a vital role. Let's take an example of what happens.
I can do a search for people with similar interests on Spock, for example Enterprise 2.0, I can find a link to people's LinkedIn profile. You can reach out with Spock and request a Trust relationship. The next step is that you progress to creating a relationship with LinkedIn. One of the neat features with LinkedIn is the ability to download a vCard to add to your address book. This is when Plaxo kicks in. If you download the vCard and add it to your address book it typically contains a person's email address. The background integration with Plaxo then discovers if this person is on Plaxo and you can suddenly find that address record populated with additional contact information, depending upon what information the person has chosen to release through Plaxo. 
This is incredibly powerful. I had been thinking that I would need to choose between Facebook, LinkedIn and Plaxo as my social network of choice but with the addition of Spock in to the mix I realize I don't need to choose and the combination of services becomes even more powerful.
When you think about it. Spock is demonstrating the potential that Google is grasping at with their OpenSocial initiative. If you haven't checked out Plaxo or Spock, do so. You owe it to yourself if you need to network. As you move in to 2008 it will supercharge your abilities to network.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous12:57 PM

    Hello Mark, great article, love to have read it!

    here are my 5 cents about the four points that I found interesting to discuss:

    1. LinkedIn: "an awful lot of LinkedIn users are also on Spock".
    <- that was probably the key point of my "successful growth" in Spock Power- I am the LinkedIn Italia Club's VP and IT/Web Manager- so the most LinkedIners from Italy know me and "trust" me for what's regarding the Web 2.0.
    That's probably why most of the people invited by me have joined Spock and have confirmed some my most important tags.

    2. Tags: "All I had done is tag people that I discovered with tags that were relevant to them."
    <- Mark, this is exactly the second must do on Spock in order to gain the Power- one who's careful and correct tagger, will get lots of votes for the tags he/she creates! so the Power will growth, but it's not only about your Power- the global Power and the sense of existence of the whole Spock Project will grow!

    remember, the more accurate we tag the people we know (personally or via web)- the most sense this all gives to PEOPLE SEARCH ENGINE which Spock is, and which is very 2.0 so its destiny is in the hands of the community, right?

    That's why Spock pays us in Power if we contribute to the Community Search in the best way- create new content that will be then confirmed by the other people.

    3. Plaxo: "The biggest benefit I find from Plaxo is the integration it provides with the address book on my Mac"
    <- I also think the same, and since I am not a Mac fan/user (I live under GNU/Linux)- so Plaxo wasn't really useful for me :)
    For me Plaxo is just a Web-AddressBook and it was that for 4 years if I remember well. I was Premium user of Plaxo since the very beginning, but... I found it useful just like Address-Book, and I wanted it to remain my Address-Book... but it has become another Social Network and I've seen as my contacts have started connect to each other "behind my back" :) and I've seen lots of another strange things... So I did not like Pulse immediately.
    And till now Plaxo for me is remaining a powerful and reliable Web Address-Book- nothing more!

    So there is no contribution in my "huge" Spock Power :) from the part of Plaxo. And there is no contribution to the value of my Network of Contacts (which is 2.5M+ in $$ :lol:) from the part of Plaxo.

    I have there the same people I am connected and keep in touch on LinkedIn. Well, maybe some few other buddies but not more and so I do not see Plaxo has helped me to "grow" on Spock!

    4. Facebook vs. LinkedIn: "There has been a lot of debate about the merits of Facebook versus LinkedIn"
    <- For me the difference is in what DO I DO here and there. It's not really important for me if Facebook had always a plug-in oriented open architecture and LinkedIn was always a closed system. and that now LinkedIn is becoming also framework but however it will remain on the highest level of professional/ business networking.

    so the difference is (I believe) in what do we do in the both Networks.
    My case is probably a very strong one- I've grown with LinkedIn, use it for several years, being one of the co-founders of an Off-Line Club for LinkedIn in Italy, being the IT/ Web etc. for the Italian Supporter Club of LinkedIn,- and it was always around Business Networking, although we are "Business Club 2.0".

    On Facebook what? On Facebook I really love to POKE my friends, even if those are Business Networking friends :) and the Groups there I just love them and actively participate, and I like the "social spam" my friends send me there (only there!), also if it's about the "bikini group" :)

    Unlike on LinkedIn, where I always have my profile updated, clean and relevant to what do I do and what do I want to do.

    So, after all said I think MY FORMULA is:

    LinkedIn + SPOCK + Facebook

    ,that covers all my social (and real) friends, those with different interests and from different career level etc.

    note: I am not the great fan of MySpace, for me it's too chaotic. So I can imagine that someone here could prefer MySpace to Facebook and it's OK for me.
    But I'd not agree (in a soft mode "not agree" :lol: and only for myself) Mark that Plaxo has a central place in the Networking... 'coz I do not really understand it's place in the "Professional Network/ Poking Network/ Extremal Communication Network" classification :)

    instead with Spock- it's very clear- it's a GLOBAL and OPEN Address-Book, that will soon btw give us an access to all another Social Networks directly from the Spock's account. follow the news from and Spock's twitter account!

    Hope to haven't been too boring :) Sincerely yours-
    Andrey Golub, a Spock && LinkedIn Evangelist in Italy