Understanding Your Email Contacts; New Tools for Candidates by Beth Becker and Neal Rauhauser

By at June 22, 2011 | 6:08 pm | Print

Understanding Your Email Contacts; New Tools for Candidates by Beth Becker and Neal Rauhauser

Those of us who are busy online get a flood of email daily. There are three tools that can really help those working in the political arena understand the influence a new contact has. One of them is for financial information, another shows social media connections, and the third dives deep into blogs and other sources as well as social media profiles.

Influence Explorer, a joint project of the Sunlight Foundation and OpenSecrets, is a multifaceted web site that provides a political financial contribution specific search engine and an add-on tool for Firefox, Chrome, Safari, and Internet Explorer.

Once you’ve activated the Inbox Influence extension for your browser, any message that turns up in your Google Mail will have an information panel to the right regarding political donations. My work is in the technical and social media arenas, so just a few of the attorneys I interface with have any meaningful donation history.

Rapportive is a new, lightweight tool for all browsers that provides an informational panel to the right of each email you open in Google Mail. You authorize it to look into Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, then you get a brief on each new contact’s accounts on those systems. You can easily follow, friend, or link to each person who sends you email.

Gist offers a panel interface similar to Rapportive via a browser extension. Unlike that system, which was born as a browser plugin, the Gist system started as a web site and it offers a broader range of capabilities.

Gist does the basics of Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn just as Rapportive does, but it’s also a full featured search tool that will locate MySpace, FriendFeed, blogs, YouTube, Flickr, and other sources based on a given email.

Do your contacts have more than one email address? Gist can handle this with ease. Do you want to take notes on ongoing discussions? Gist has a place for that. Do you need to see what groups of people are discussing in social media? Gist has potent methods of grouping and visualizing the discussions of communities that you define.

Rapportive is simple to install and begin using – this is the one to choose if you just want a quick preview of what your email contacts are doing with social media. If you’re a fundraiser Inbox Influence is an obvious choice.

Gist isn’t a utility, it’s a system, with the implication that you’ll need to spend time with it, first climbing the learning curve and bringing in your contacts. Once you’ve got them organized you’ll be able to rapidly assess what not only individuals are saying, but also the communities in which they are members.

Beth Becker and Neal Rauhauser are the principals of Progressive PST, a social media consulting company that specializes in working with Gubernatorial, House and Senate campaigns.  They are also the co-founders of the Blog Workers Industrial Union.

www.progressivepst.com 212 642 2675  progressivepst@gmail.com

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