Email Addresses an Social Media

I touched briefly on this subject in my post on April 27th entitled LinkedIn Outlook Social Connector for Outlook 2010 however, as more social connectors are available for Outlook now I figured I should rehash the subject.

Of late, new social connectors for Outlook 2010 have appeared: Facebook is the biggest and is freely available, but lastly and somewhat stealthy is the release of a Windows Live Messenger connector. This connector automatically installs when you install the Beta version of Windows Live Essentials on your PC, so watch our for it.

All of these social connectors rely on two things:

  1. An account with that social network such as Facebook, LinkedIn or a Windows Live ID.
  2. Email addresses to bind to.

In point number two, what I’m getting at, is how the connectors are able to identify your peers or friends. The connectors use the email address from the persons online profile to match against the addresses used in Outlook emails to make matches and display social feeds and photos.

The problem arises when you mix personal and professional email addresses. At this moment in time, I use three email addresses, none of which I am going to hand out here because the spam clan will get hold of them, but they consist of a professional business address, my professional personal address and my personal address.

If I have a friend on Facebook called Steve, and he is registered on Facebook with his personal Hotmail address, then the social connectors in Outlook are able to associate emails from his Hotmail account with his Facebook profile because the email addresses match up. What happens though, if Steve emails me from work? The answer is that by default I get nothing – I don’t get a social match for Steve. The reason is that the connectors don’t know who that address belongs to.

There are two solutions to the problem – One requires work on the part of the people sending the message, and one requires work on the end of the person receiving the message, and I guess the outcome is a mixture of both and it also depends on personal privacy requirements.

Solution 1

This is actually the fastest and most efficient solution. Adding multiple addresses to social profiles. If you are a friend of mine on Facebook or are a contact of mine on LinkedIn, check my profile. You will see three email addresses listed. The reason for this, is that I have registered all my usable addresses with the social networks so that other people using the social connectors will get a hit for my profile regardless of whether I email them from work or from home.

This solution is really simple to implement because all it requires is people to add their alternate addresses to their profile and bam – Job done. The issue here though is that most people try to distance their work and personal social interactions which means some people may not be comfortable adding all their addresses to all their accounts as it can cause a blurring of the social boundaries.

Solution 2

Outlook Contacts. This solution is fairly painful on the person receiving the email, but until people adopt the idea of adding multiple addresses to online profiles, it’s the only way.

In this solution, the person on the recipient end of the email messages can add Outlook Contacts for each of their friends or social connections. Using the fields Email, Email 2 and Email 3 in Outlook, you can register all of the addresses for each of your contacts.

Outlook will now use these contacts as part of its social connection linking processes.


Richard works as a Cloud Consultant for Fordway Solution where his primary focus is to help customers understand, adopt and develop with Microsoft Azure, Office 365 and System Center. Richard Green is an IT Pro with over 15 years' of experience in all things Microsoft including System Center and Office 365. He has previously worked as a System Center consultant and as an internal solutions architect across many verticals. Outside of work, he loves motorbikes and is part of the orange army, marshaling for NGRRC, British Superbikes and MotoGP. He is also an Assistant Cub Scout Leader.