Integrating Social Networks with Microsoft Outlook
If you're both a social network and Outlook addict, this article is definitely for you. Even if you aren't a regular social networker yet, you'll still want to keep reading. You'll see how you can integrate Facebook, LinkedIn, and other networks into Microsoft Outlook. Though Outlook 2010 is the first version to include this functionality, it's available as an add-on for Outlook 2003 and 2007.
The Social Connector for Outlook will help you keep up with your friends, colleagues, and family. You can see profile pictures and status updates right inside Outlook, as Figure 1 shows.
You add easily add people to expand your network connections. You never know how someone might be able to help you down the road, possibly landing you a job or business relationship. Some sites even automatically import the contact details of your friends or connections into Outlook.
Keep in mind that you won't be able to update your status, comment on postings, or post anything to social networks directly with Outlook. The Social Connector lets you view other people's photos and profiles, view their contact info, and add people to your network. This functionality can still be quite useful.
Installing the Social Connector and Adding Social Networks
If you're using Outlook 2010, the Social Connector feature is already installed. However, if you're using Outlook 2003 or 2007 you'll have to download and install the add-on.
No matter which Outlook version you're using, you still must download and install an add-on for each social network you want to use with the Social Connector. At the time of this writing, there are add-ons for Facebook, MySpace, LinkedIn, and Windows Live Messenger. You can view the updated list and download the add-ons here. If you're Twitter user, you might want to check out TwInbox.
The first time you open Outlook after installing a social network provider, you should be prompted with the Social Network Accounts dialog, such as the one pictured in Figure 2. On this dialog you can select the networks you want to enable and provide the login credentials so it can connect with your account. Once added, you can edit the password, change download preferences, and see whether or not contacts and activity feeds are saved by Outlook.
You can also manually bring up the Social Network Accounts settings. In Outlook 2003 and Outlook 2007, on the Tools menu, click Social Network Account Settings. In Outlook 2010, select the View tab on the ribbon; under the People Pane button, select Account Settings.
In order for Facebook to work with the Social Connector, you must allow third-party applications for your Facebook account. This is the default setting, so it will work if you haven't edited these settings. Otherwise, you can just switch it back: on your Facebook wall, click Account and then click Application Settings.