Exploring lesser-known social platforms – Part 1: Plaxo

Two weeks ago I wrote a blog entry, Why Summer is a Good Time to Reassess Your Social Media Presence, encouraging us, amongst other things, to use this quieter summer time to explore new social platforms.

Out of curiosity I took my own advice and, having gained some inspiration from the Conversation prism, I had a look at three social platforms that I haven’t really used before – Viadeo, Plaxo and Xing. All 3 platforms are designed with a B2B focus in mind, and yet deliver on different levels. This article focuses on Plaxo, watch this space for further analysis of Viadeo and Xing!


The platform claims to be the place to keep all your online contacts synchronised into one neatly accessible address book, integrating and updating your contacts from Google, LinkedIn, Facebook, Skype etc, as the image below illustrates:


The idea initially sounds good as it is indeed rather tricky to keep on top of your connections across multiple sites. We have our work colleagues on LinkedIn, former classmates on Facebook, access to thought leaders on Twitter, and a combination of these in various Google+ circles.

Importing your Gmail contacts

So I attempted to import my GMail contacts, however the import function added only 6 contacts that feature in my Gmail address book! Unlike other sites that import all contacts you’ve been in communication with (I’ve been using Gmail since 2005, and find my contacts via the Search function without adding them to the address book), Plaxo only imports the ones manually added to the address book. Sigh.

Importing your LinkedIn contacts

LinkedIn import is even more manual. It requires a to visit LinkedIn, a CSV contact book download, and eventual upload of the file to Plaxo. I decided to undertake this rather tedious task, and sadly the process was stalled at the upload stage. Apparently there was something wrong with the file name (even though I believe there was nothing wrong with it). At the end of the day, it did not import anything!


A couple of thoughts that came to my mind as I explored the platform further:

  • Security: The thought of having all your contacts across all your social sites and e-mail in one place, stored on a 3rd party server, makes me slightly nervous. Obviously Plaxo claims to have robust security measures in place, but so did Twitter and Tumblr. Are you ready to store all your contacts in one place?
  • Benefits: The benefit of having all your contacts in one place is a great convenience. Furthermore, the Sync function, available to Plaxo Platinum Sync customers for £3 a month, offers “2-way, real-time sync” that “keeps your address book consistent and accessible from the essential communication tools you use every day.” It covers contacts on Outlook, Gmail, iPhone, Blackberry, Mac and Windows Mobile. I haven’t tried it, and would be happy to hear your reviews.

Overall, if you are happy to give all your data to a third party site to keep all your contacts in one place, pay for live synchronisation, and invest a little bit of time to overcome issues with uploading/import, this site is for you. From my personal point of view I am unlikely to use it. But this could be the solution if you know you’ve connected to someone but forgot where.

As the number of social platforms we use continues to grow, the importance of managing our contacts will continue to grow accordingly. Plaxo may be the solution to this management challenge, but I don’t believe I’m ready to subscribe for it yet.

Have you used Plaxo? Share your experiences and comment below!

© Plaxo “Logo” via Bubblenews

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