For many readers of this blog social media is mainstream, but I travel the highways and byways of this country and experience first hand in my workshops and presentations the amount of folks that “just don’t get” social media. I think they’ve heard the hype and know they should get it, but it still feels a bit foreign and geeky at best and downright silly at worst.
Microsoft Office 2010, in beta release now, may change the game on social media and turn participation into email plumbing. The MS Outlook 2010 blog reveals the new features that led me to this conclusion. (Although in stunningly Microsoft fashion the first bit of info on the page deals with a crash report update.)
Here’s the deal – depending upon who you ask, Microsoft Outlook, including Exchange, powers somewhere around 65% of enterprise email and probably more than that when it comes to the small business desktop. GMail and other SaaS tools have begun to eat away at this margin, but many a computer user sees the Internet through the eyes of MS Outlook. This post isn’t a plug for MS Office, I haven’t downloaded or tested the new version yet, it’s simply an explanation of the impact I see this new release ultimately having.
In November 2009, Microsoft announced both the beta of Microsoft Office 2010 as well as the Outlook Social Connector. The Outlook Social Connector brings together communications history, contact information, and professional and social networking information into the Outlook experience.
As of today, the beta release includes connection plans that give users the ability to add LinkedIn, Facebook and MySpace interaction, giving every Outlook user the ability to enjoy the benefits of social media without any effort. This will get millions hooked and participating as simply a form of enhanced email – social media participation will become email plumbing and that will make it ubiquitous.
Here’s a list of activities, from MS site, that you can do inside Outlook 2010 when it comes to LinkedIn for Outlook
- Connect to your LinkedIn account to view your colleagues’ status updates and photos next to an e-mail message they sent you.
- Your colleagues’ latest contact information from LinkedIn automatically updates his or her Outlook contact. Whenever someone changes a phone number, e-mail address, or other contact details, it’s automatically updated in Outlook — you are always up to date.
- Synchronize your mobile phone with Outlook to stay up-to-date — you don’t have to worry about keeping track of new phone numbers and contact info — contacts’ information from the Web is synchronized to your mobile phone.
- Grow your professional network directly from within your Inbox — add colleagues with one click.
I’ve been preaching the merits of hacking together this kind of integration in your social media system for some time, but now anyone, whether they want to or not, will almost automatically have is handed to them. Combine this with Office 2010 Web Services version in the cloud and Office for Mac 2011 to include Outlook and you may see Microsoft regain some footing.
To recap, here is what you can do today to get started with the Outlook Social Connector.