October 2009 Archives

I've already revealed part of my plan to improve on Microsoft's Outlook program. So today I want to build on that a little bit. (You're getting it free for now, Mr. Gates ... but the next one will cost you.)

Let's talk about Outlook. Specifically, let's talk about your contacts. Before I explain my plan, I should admit openly that I haven't installed Windows 7 yet. Although I doubt it will significantly improve the arrangement of the Office suite of programs -- Word, PowerPoint, Outlook, etc. -- I would be remiss if I didn't mention that I just haven't seen the new OS yet.

But with that out of the way, I need to get a point through directly to Mr. Gates's minions who engineer Outlook, and for that matter Outlook express and any other contacts database, before they go releasing any new versions of anything. And here it is:

Guys, (and I do mean guys,) people marry. People have families. Now, I know this may be a rare occurrence in Redmond, where the male to female ratio is might be more than slightly skewed in favor of those with the Y chromosome, so let me just explain how that affects email. When people marry, they become deeply connected. They share money. They share clothes. They share germs. They develop intermingling familial connections. They become deeply connected in every way EXCEPT the Outlook way. In Outlook, you are considered an individual, regardless of your marital or familial status. You could be a Siamese twin, and you would still need your own separate contact information to fit into the Outlook contacts file. And if you were a Siamese twin, there would be no way for others to see the unique relationship between you and the other with whom you were sharing fleshspace. That is the Outlook way.

In Outlook, an entry can be associated with multiple physical addresses -- home, business, what have you -- but a physical address can't be associated with multiple entries. This leads to a lot of duplication, because you have to put in the same address for two different contacts over, and over again. And it leads to confusing naming entries like this one, which is for my parents:

First Name: Dick & Fleur
Last Name: Middaugh
email: dickandfleur@att.net

(I know it sounds crazy in the age of free Gmail, but a lot of families share one email address, too.)

The problem gets sticky when you go to search for your entry. In Office 2007, entries are indexed by first name, so you have to remember who you entered first -- Mom? Or Dad? Bill or Sharon? Zendyl or Abraham?

Outlook does get a little personal by soliciting your contact's birthday and even their anniversary -- but it would never go so far as to assume that your contact could be married to another one of your contacts. So be prepared to enter any anniversaries twice.

To give credit where credit is due, Outlook took the bold step of including a field for your contact's Web address and even -- wait for it -- their IM name. But although my own version of Outlook is called "2007," a year when the social networks were well established and on their way to virtual hegemony, still it does not include fields social networking links.

<Knocking on glass> HelLLOOOO! Microsoft Outlook makers! Are you in there? Wake up already and make some changes!

Or don't -- and I'll be over soon to crack the whip.






gameBig_mafiawars_rev.jpgA lot of companies are looking for ways to use the social networks for marketing purposes. In fact, I think it could well be argued that Facebook and Twitter have reached their saturation point in terms of marketing. Everybody has a Twitter account, from Oprah to Buy.com. Even my Facebook account has a couple commercial connections, including one to my favorite brand of reusable bags, Baggu.

One piece of advice that I am constantly impressing upon the marketers with whom I work is to be careful of being so focused on social networking that you miss the next big thing. If I were writing this blog two years ago, the focus would have been entirely on ... well, blogs. And there was a time when everybody had to have a blog. Those who became myopic about it are the ones who lost out pole position on MySpace, Facebook, Twitter and so on. You need to keep your sights on the horizon.

And I spot something on the horizon that has me wondering. I recently posted a status update that said "Could Mafia Wars Kill Facebook?" I was receiving so many Mafia Wars updates from friends that it was becoming annoying. A friend's response to my post informed me that you can turn Mafia Wars off. You can effectively block any app/game of your choosing from appearing in your feed. This I had not known.

But this got me thinking. How many other of my friends are tolerating Mafia Wars in their feed? How many Farmville updates are eeking into our collective consciousness? And aside from those two, what are the most pervasive social games?

Find them. Own them.

What if your notification said "Summer Day has sent you movie passes to an AMC theater on Mafia Wars," or "You have received an invitation to Mafia Wars, brought to you by "Thugs Life," in theaters October 18." I don't know anything about Farmville, but what if you could use a Caterpillar tractor to sow your seeds, or sell what you grow at your local Ralphs, a sponsored Web community?

As much as I find these games have infiltrated my Facebook feed, I haven't found that any advertising has infiltrated these games. And getting your brand inside one, is like loading up the old Trojan Horse and rolling right into Troy. Let the games begin.

 

  

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This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

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About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from October 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

September 2009 is the previous archive.

November 2009 is the next archive.

Find recent content on the main index or look in the archives to find all content.