It's no secret that Social Networking is growing. In 2006 over half of B2B technology buyers visited social networking sites (2006 comScore World Metrix). The top business players in the space are LinkedIn and Plaxo and they are driving demand by delivering consistent product enhancements:
LinkedIn's Half Open Platform
LinkedIn will be opening their nework to "allow developers to build applications that run inside your LinkedIn account (via OpenSocial) and the far more useful and interesting part — ways to pull your LinkedIn data out and use it elsewhere."
What I like about their approach is that they are sticking to their roots. They are a 'professional network' so rather than taking the Facebook 'apps gone wild' approach, LinkedIn will be keeping tabs on the applications it allows on its network. What does this mean? You won't have to worry about hamburger fights and karate-chops.
Plaxo vs. Flock
I wrote about Flock in an earlier post - you know, the Social Media Web Browser. Well Plaxo (with it's Plaxo Pulse feed aggregator feature) has a different approach to keep you connected to all of your social networks. They've announced a new Outlook connector - being that Outlook is primarily a business application you can guess who this is built for (yet more proof point that Social Networking is not just for friends and teenagers). What's cool is that it's embedded into the what is still the primary communication tool in business - email. Enabling you to 'get a pulse' on your contact before sending them an email will make your message more meaningful therefore deepening your relationship with that contact. Are you ready to give your Outlook a pulse?