In case you missed the news yesterday, LinkedIn is throwing Rapportive to the deadpool. OK, so maybe I’m being a bit melodramatic, but I’ve been a big fan of Rapportive since way back in my tech blogger days when I helped to introduce it to the world. Since being acquired by LinkedIn in 2012, the app has languished a bit. Unfortunately, the big updates that we’re going to see soon are almost all for the worse.
What’s Changing in Rapportive?
Raplets, for those unfamiliar, are a way for you to connect other services to Rapportive to help build your profile. Rapportive could pull in some information on its own, but Raplets let you add other sites like Crunchbase, Klout and more.
So Long, Notes
One of my favorite features, the ability to take notes on a contact, is also biting the dust. Like Raplets, LinkedIn says that not enough people are using the Notes function to make it worthwhile. So if you, like me, have loads of notes on your contacts, kiss them goodbye.
Hello Walled Garden
It’s no secret that LinkedIn likes to lock you (and your data) in to its service. But this latest change leaves me absolutely dumbfounded. It’s positively a negative experience for the user, which will serve zero benefit to anyone except LinkedIn. So much for customer first.
Right now, if you’re using Rapportive, it will try to pull in the Facebook and Twitter profiles of someone that you’re emailing. You would see updates such as Tweets and Facebook statuses and you had the ability to add them as friends on those networks as well. But that’s going to change soon. Unless the user specifically connects their Twitter and Facebook profiles to their LinkedIn profile, that information will no longer appear. From the LinkedIn help files:
“Rapportive shows Twitter and Facebook links when they’re posted on LinkedIn profiles. Other Twitter and Facebook information such as status updates, comments, follows, retweets, replies, likes, and the ability to add a friend is no longer supported on Rapportive.”
Another unfortunate part about this problem is that there aren’t very many good alternatives to Rapportive. But all is not lost, because some do exist. Perhaps the most impressive of these comes from the RelateIQ CRM and its Chrome Extension for Gmail. While it’s definitely geared toward the sales CRM user, it’s incredibly slick and provides a wealth of functions.
The PeopleDiscovery plugin from Connect6° is another great option. As noted by this review on TechCocktail, the company has already scoured over 550 million profiles, and it operates outside of Gmail. That’s a huge boon to users anywhere.
For those who are a bit more enterprising, the folks over at Gun.io published an article from our own Dan Lynn that walks you through the steps to building your own version of Rapportive in 30 minutes.
And as of December, 2015, FullContact introduced our own Rapportive replacement. But unlike Rapportive, not only does it let you hover over an email address and get a full view of that person – it also lets you organize contacts with tags and notes, add photos to all your contacts, and sync contact info to your address book with a single click.
Is Rapportive Still Useful?
This question is a bit hard to answer, because it will depend a lot on your needs. For instance, I liked Rapportive a lot because it showed me profile photos. Because I would often email with people whose names I could not recognize to be male or female, Rapportive helped me to have a more accurate view of my contact. That function will live on, but little else will stay the same.
Once again, LinkedIn’s actions are anti-user. The company wants you to input even more information into its site, and unless you do, even apps that had the ability to display it before will lose it forever. The company continues its downward spiral (or maybe meandering journey) into being a content farm rather than a network for professionals.
It’s pretty much a given rule of success for any business worth their salt – Do your best to give your customers what they want. Once again, LinkedIn is punishing its current customers, and giving potential new ones less of a reason to ever get involved. No matter how you slice it, that’s just bad business and adds to LinkedIn’s history of buying great companies then killing them.
UPDATE: As of December, 2015, FullContact introduced our own Rapportive replacement. But unlike Rapportive, not only does it let you hover over an email address and get a full view of that person – it also lets you add them to your address book, organize them with tags and notes, and add photos to all your contacts with a single click. Give it a try and let us know what you think!
Image: 316th ESC via Flickr