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August 24, 2009
Single Sign-On To Your Online World...
 

…with one page that closes the book on link clutter.

This Talent Zoo blog entry was supposed to be the fourth in a series about how to help companies leverage the power of the Internet, from their own websites to interactive best practices and social media, to build and retain their businesses. We’ll get back to that in my next entry, but first we need to talk about something just out of the box that could be the next big thing on the new media edge.

It was probably a dozen years ago when I first added a company logo to an email signature. More recently we all started receiving emails with an ever-more-impressive lineup of logos in signatures linking you to the senders’ company websites, LinkedIN and Twitter pages and more. When it became clear that vast stretches of the business world had been conquered by PDA, most of us took the hint and migrated our mindset to the small screen. We dropped the logos in favor of links…and more links…until some email signatures including my own, plus ads, TV spots, web listings, resumes and more began to resemble a runaway train of link largesse.

Something had to be done. Now someone has done it. Several someones, in fact.

Axel Schultze, Rob Stevenson, Marita Roebkes and the team at Xeequa, who earlier brought us the Social Media Academy, have launched a new service called XeeSM. If you haven’t already heard, XeeSM is a place—one place, a single URL—where you can post links to all of your own social media pages and sites. To see it in action, check out http://xeesm.com/JEFF/.

I love it. Instead of trying to choose the right combination of links to share, you can now cover all your online bases with just one. One-stop shopping. "One-click convenience." As a bonus, replacing the logo-link parade on your site(s) with just one logo speeds page-loading. More broadly, I think Axel and the team are onto something big, a new crossroads of global networking. Why? The social media world is stratifying into functional franchises: I’ll bet virtually everyone reading this has looked up people for business purposes on LinkedIN and Twitter, and possibly on other sites such as Xing, Spoke, WhoHub, ZoomInfo or iMedia Connection. From workstyle to lifestyle, you’ve probably found friends and family on Facebook and hooked up with friends, favorite musical artists and other entertainers on MySpace. You’ve probably searched WordPress, Blogger or TypePad to find interesting blogs (and bloggers). Web denizens the world over are sharing sites, photos, info and interests on social bookmarking sites from Digg to Del.icio.us, from (Google) Flickr to Furl, from Slashdot to Squidoo to StumbleUpon and hundreds more.

Now imagine being able to find a person, company, band, industry association or any other entity on all of these sites by doing just ONE search. Like other networking/social media services, XeeSM lets you run open searches on its user base, so if XeeSM achieves LinkedIN- or Facebook-style near-ubiquity in the global web user community…you can. For each of us as users, it would be nothing short of a single sign-on for social media, and since XeeSM also lets you post your core website(s), potentially a de facto directory for the interactive world.

Whew.

I’ve already incorporated XeeSM into my online presence. Yet the devil’s advocate in me asks: Why not just go it alone? I already own 10 domains, part of protecting a brand in the digital age. I could post links to my most important social media pages and sites, XeeSM-style, on any one of the unused pages on those domains, then insert that single URL in my email signature and everywhere else.

Here’s why: By going with XeeSM I’m getting in on the ground floor of a branded global community that I am confident will offer useful capabilities and connectivity I simply cannot capture alone. Then, if enough of us get on board, we all reap the almost incalculable benefits of one search to quickly find anyone in all their web venues.

OK, but maybe the devil’s in the details. To add each link to your XeeSM lineup you choose from a pulldown menu of preset sites/logos (e.g., Twitter) or general site types such as Blog, Email and Website. The system puts them in alpha order by type, so Blog is near the top and Website is near the bottom. I have an extensive online presence, and within site type listings the system places links in order by an algorithm I have yet to decipher. So while I want my core site to appear at the very top of my XeeSM page, if posted under Website it falls in with the great unwashed masses of sites that do not currently appear in the preset pulldown menu and might not even achieve first-screen display for many users. I “fixed” that by classifying my core site as an Event Site, but I felt so cheap…

To arrange things so Xeequa does not find itself perpetually updating those pulldowns, XeeSM could give users the option of entering their own site names into a free-form field in the site type column. Yet I am sure the team fears that would open the door to misuse of the service with site type labels like “Really Smokin’ Site” followed by some obscure URL. So maybe the best way around it is to keep the existing pulldown structure but tweak the system to let users place their links in any order they like. If that capability exists today in XeeSM, I have yet to find it. (OK, XeeSM is just out in public beta, so I need to cut it some slack. “Small moves, Ellie, small moves…”)

To become the single sign-on for the interactive world, XeeSM must achieve substantial market penetration in the global user community. To get there, XeeSM must offer high value on a user-by-user basis, and it is doing that by giving users the convenience of sharing their total online presence with anyone via a single URL. If it succeeds, we may be witnessing the birth of the next great online powerhouse.

For now I'm just happy to offer one-page at-a-glance convenience to the most important addresses in my web world. Did I mention my XeeSM URL is http://xeesm.com/JEFF/? Just making sure.


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For years Jeff Cotrupe was the analyst who "named Stratecast but never joined the firm." Those days are over: He has now joined Stratecast, a division of Frost & Sullivan, as Program Director, OSS/BSS Global Competitive Strategies. If you compete in the global communications market, Stratecast offers the critical strategic insights you need to WIN. You can connect with Jeff on all social media sites at XeeSM and follow StratecastF&S and Jeff on Twitter.

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