I recently came across a new social networking site, Zerply, which tries to target the demographic that wants to do professional networking but doesn’t wear a suit and tie. It sheds the corporate image immediately with its splashy design – especially in the theme options for the user profile. Founded in 2009 by a group of Europeans who tried to improve upon the LinkedIn model (okay, it’s not always the most user friendly), Zerply claims to be “the easiest way to present yourself professionally”.
What I Liked:
- Import Your Data From Other Social Networks
The first thing I think upon encountering yet another social network is “I don’t want tot set up another account – isn’t Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and maybe Quora enough? Well you hardly have to repeat anything, as Zerply integrates links up with Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, to important your data, including your profile photo, so setting up your profile is a snap.
- Find Users on Other Social Networks
This is hardly a novelty, but it makes getting set up pretty easy.
- Easy user interface
- Very International
For a new network, Zerply has a wide international reach. LinkedIn has tremendous global penetration as well, but that’s not the impression I get when I use it. Because it’s so large, I get constantly fed connections, resources, and groups that are pertinent to my current location. Actually, I find it more useful to connect with people nearby, but having friends around the world can also be fun.
What I Didn’t:
- More Emphasis on What You Like Than What You Do
I understand that this is part of Zerply’s whole concept, but the fact that each user’s condensed profile shows only their current position and the tags they selected leaves the whole field too open. Seeing a bunch of people from throughout Europe and India with tags like “Twitter” and “Marketing” tells me hardly anything.
- Hidden Character Limit
Rather than fill in another social media profile, I chose to import my experience from my LinkedIn profile. But when I went to check my Zerply profile, I saw that a bunch of sections got snipped short. Grr.
- Support Japan Bar
Call me cold-hearted, but I’m not much for badges and symbols in support of a cause that have little substance behind them. I wanted to see what this was about, so I went to my profile settings in order to active the bar. What it did was pull in a strip at the top of my profile that I didn’t see until I started searching for it. It says “I support the efforts to help Japan after the earthquake of March 2011” and links to the Red Cross Japan Tsunami Appeal. I do like the idea of supporting charity and helping those suffering from tragedy, but I’m not sure that a networking profile is the best place for it. It looks, well, random.
- Where Are the Groups?
This is one of the most useful LinkedIn features and leaving it out is, in my opinion, a mistake. How exactly am I supposed to find other people to network with? Just keeping going through people “similar” or “near” me? I
- Poor Interface For Browsing for Networks
As stated above, the way to find new connections besides importing them from an address book or another social network is to plow through contacts “Similar to You”, “Recently Joined”, or “Near You”, which I don’t find particularly useful due to the layout, as stated above. Additionally, it shows 5 people intially, and then you have to hit “Load More” in order to view one more contact?
Actually is it one more contact? I’m not sure, because sometimes new names get added to the bottom of the queue, and sometimes they get added to the top. Annoying!
As you can see, there were more attributes I didn’t like than things that I did. If LinkedIn is too uptight or cumbersome for someone my guess is that they either aren’t very willing to use social media networking for career or business advancement or they have other opportunities for networking with people in their field – forums, industry-specific social networks, Twitter, and elsewhere. Zerply just doesn’t seem to fit the bill, because it’s hard to actually connect (“Hi, I randomly found you, what to be friends?”), and there are plenty of other alternatives for posting an online resume.