If you’re like me, you use many different services for communication. From Outlook, to Gmail, to my iPhone, I have multiple ways to stay in touch. The problem? Until recently, I had my contacts spread out among those platforms, in no coherent fashion. I had no problem keeping my frequent contacts consistent among those platforms, but when it came time to find contact information for someone I hardly contacted, I’d find myself digging among all my platforms, not sure where I had saved that person’s information. Those problems ended when I discovered Soocial, a contact management service that will keep your contacts synchronized across multiple platforms. Soocial is actually quite simple, and consists of two main features – synchronization and backup. Read on for a discussion of each, and then let us know in the comments how you keep your contacts in sync.
To set up synchronization in Soocial, start with the Connections page. From that page, you can indicate which services should sync with Soocial. Choices include Outlook, Gmail (including Gmail for Google Apps), Windows Mobile, iPhone, Windows Live, Yahoo (import only), Mac, Blackberry, and several other phones. Before connecting a service, Soocial recommends that you make a backup of your contacts from within that service, in case you make a mistake or something else goes wrong.
One of the services that I synchronized was Gmail, and I found that I was able to use Gmail’s authorization protocol without providing my Gmail password to Soocial. Not all services can be connected perfectly. The Outlook connection in particular comes with a precautionary warning. I worked around that by syncing my iPhone instead of Outlook. My iPhone syncs with Outlook itself, so any changes ultimately did end up getting synced.
Once you have connected a service, synchronization will take a few minutes. If you’re using the iPhone app, you will also need to manually run the app on your iPhone to initiate the synchronization (I haven’t tested this on other phones). During synchronization, contacts in Soocial will be sent to the selected service, and vice versa.
When you’re done, you may have some duplicate contacts. Soocial does have a "deduper" to address this, but I used Soocial’s merge feature instead. With the merge feature, you select any duplicate entries for a contact, and click a "merge" button. You’re then presented with a screen on which you can clean up the contact. For example, if you used a different first name for someone in two different services, you can click on which of the names to use in that person’s contact entry.
Soocial also allows you to organize your contacts by Groups. Soocial Groups synchronize with the Groups you have in Gmail. Soocial also supports nicknames, notes, and multiple phone numbers, email addresses, street addresses, and IM addresses.
In addition to its usefulness as a syncronization tool, the other main strength of Soocial is its ability to be used as a backup tool. From the backups page, you can download backups, and also trigger a backup to run. The page also will list backups of each service, taken at the time you connected that service.
It took me some time to clean up my duplicates, but thanks to Soocial I now have something I haven’t had for years – a clean, consistent address book across all of my platforms. Soocial worked great for me. How about you? How do you keep your contacts organized?