Microsoft expressed its commitment to social media by integrating Facebook into the Outlook Social Connector (OSC). The OSC aggregates all e-mail, file attachments, calendar events, status updates and other social networking posts in a separate Outlook window. When viewing an email, real-time updates from the sender on his or her activities on Facebook, LinkedIn, MySpace and Windows Live appear in a person pane, it even includes profile photos.
Integrating Outlook and Facebook has the advantage of developing a better relationship with customers and colleagues by keeping up on their activities and interests. “What’s unique is that it’s bringing social elements and context from your colleagues and your friends into the Outlook experience, which is pretty unique given that there are so many that use Outlook as their primary communication tool,” said Rick Armbrust, strategic partner manager of Facebook.
However, companies that allow users to access Facebook in the workplace lose an average of 1.5 percent in total employee productivity, according to a report from Nucleus Research, an IT research company. “Using social networking sites may divert employees’ attention away from more pressing priorities, so it’s understandable that some companies limit access,” said Dave Willmer, executive director of IT staffing firm Robert Half Technology.
Outlook is different because of its popularity in the office. 54 percent of all U.S. companies ban Facebook at work, according to a recent study by Robert Half Technology. For those employers, the idea of a Facebook-connected Outlook might not go over so well.
From a social marketing perspective, OSC is a great tool to see the next time you have an upcoming appointment that include you and the message sender. OSC also identifies attachments that you and the sender have exchanged and allows you to know about events and activities involving your colleagues in real time. Now, if Microsoft can just get a deal done to connect with Twitter.
If you are using Outlook Social Connector, let us know if you like it and if you think it will be helpful in business. Connect with Weise Communications on Facebook for future updates.