Does it make sense to update your social networks via a voice call?

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Ping.fm, a fairly new service that lets you update your status on several social networks at once, has signed a deal with the UK’s Spinvox whereby you can now update your status via a voice call. Ping.fm works on Twitter, Facebook, Jaiku, Pownce, LiveJournal, Tumblr, MySpace, Bebo and Friendster. It’s not unlike Socialthing, another an activity aggregator. There is also HelloTxt which has been around since September 2007 and also has a mobile version.

But there’s a slight problem. Facebook has plans to allow you to update your status on other socnets, which would potentially kill Ping.fm and others like it for at least a large part of the market (though not all of course).

That makes Ping.fm a feature, and the fact that Ping.fm is a project started by two guys in their spare time says a lot. So is this new Spinvox add-on of any real value? Does it make sense to call a number and suddenly update 30 social networks at once with “I’m on the train, looks like I’ll be late for that meeting” or similar?

Christina Domecq, SpinVox co-founder and CEO says “Bloggers and other active social networkers are tired of being stuck in front of their computer screens, updating network after network to stay in touch with their friends.” But that doesn’t make sense to me – those guys are the mavens of this business – they actually love text input and, in my experience, can’t stand having to call people. They will even hunt and peck on a terrible iPhone keyboard and download the Twitterific iPhone app to avoid calling people.

And as many have found, the real power of Twitter comes in turning it into a sort of ‘cloud conversation’. If I used Ping.fm to have one single, blasted-out conversation across all socnets that would pretty much destroy my network. And annoy my friends/followers. Adding voice just confuses that.

And unfortunately SpinVox’s “sexiest” service is not its integration with social networks, but it’s voice to SMS service, which remains an utterly indispensible, though paid-for, add-on to your mobile. I can see Spinvox’s desire to extend the service into socnets, but it is a mere incremental add-on to the existing service. This is a bit of extra code, nothing more. But at least it makes for a smart distribution ploy – this is very cheap viral marketing.

In fact, there’s going to be more interesting ways for Spinvox to extend its platform and really this isn’t the killer one. For me it’s still voice to text or voice to email, or perhaps even voice to IM, which is going to be the best route. And there may even be ad-models to be wrapped around this because Spinvox’s technology is smart enough to understand the content of the messages, making ad-targeting a plausible scenario.

  • http://fraser.typepad.com Josie Fraser

    Pretty much agree with you on this one, “they actually *love* text input and, in my experience, can’t stand having to call people” made me laugh out loud since I generally expect people to schedule phone calls in advance by some kind of DM, if a phone/conference call rather than email (or even a face-to-face) is absolutely necessary.

  • http://www.tactilecrm.com Jake Stride

    Mike, great article and couldn’t agree more.

    I love Spinvox for voicemail to SMS and can’t live without it now. Ping.fm is great for when I want a generic, non-conversation based update to go out across multiple networks, but not for conversations as you say.

    I never really got my head round voice updates. Played with Twitterfone and it worked really well, the only time I had a use for it was in the car, but it didn’t work with handsfree too well so I never really used.

  • http://www.ecademy.com Julian Bond

    If you update Twitter, you can already flow that update into virtually all the other networks anyway. So what’s the problem?

    Pick one master status. And then route everything from that.

  • http://ontechnology.wordpress.com/2008/10/07/on-early-adopters/ On early adopters « On Technology

    […] struck me yesterday when I was reading Mike Butcher’s post about a new Spinvox add-on. In it he says: So is this new Spinvox add-on of any real value? Does it […]

  • http://www.wecando.biz Ian Hendry

    Agree with you Mike, this seems a bit pointless. I have Ping.fm connected to Twitter and from my iPhone I tweet using Twitterrific, which then gets those 140 chars from from iPhone to LinkedIn, Plaxo, Facebook and everywhere else. That is barely more painful than calling Spinvox.

    By the way, I was keen to try out Spinvox a few years back but stopped using it as I didn’t like not hearing the tone a voicemail was left for me. At least with texts that were text at source a lighhearted message might get a smiley or other emoticon. With Spinvox it was often hard to tell whether I should interrupt a meeting to call back or not.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ
    http://www.wecando.biz

  • http://www.marketingeficiente.com/2008/10/07/on-early-adopters/ Marketing Eficiente » Blog Archive » On early adopters

    […] struck me yesterday when I was reading Mike Butcher’s post about a new Spinvox add-on. In it he says: So is this new Spinvox add-on of any real value? Does it […]

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