Undecided about social CRM tools Gist and Rapportive

Although I have been using social CRM tool Rapportive in my Google Mail for a little while now, I only realised what this social CRM thing could mean for me today. Yes, there was a bit of a lag there but I am getting there. Rapportive is a very nicely integrated tool that replaces the ads in Google Mail with a panel that populates with social information about contacts in your email.

I’ve been taking an occasional look at a similar tool called Gist which also takes a number of social and communication channels and, as I understand it, presents you with contacts’ social streams, contact information and a couple ways to connect to them. It hit me today that a tool like Gist, and Rapportive to a lesser degree, could well be what I have been looking for since I cancelled my Highrise account recently (I wasn’t maintaining it and its an expensive service to pay for each month and just not use).

Gist has a pretty nice iPhone app which makes integration on the go a lot easier. I didn’t see a similar app for Rapportive and, as far as I can tell, it is a Web only option at the moment. Rapportive’s integration with Google Mail is a lot nicer than Gist’s, though. The Gist sidebar looks like it is bolted on to the side of the Google Mail window and painted a nice colour to make it blend in better. It doesn’t make use of the space as well as Rapportive does (as I mentioned above, Rapportive replaces the ads in Google Mail). The Gist UI seems a little clunky as far as the sidebar goes and you wind up with less screen space for emails than you do with Rapportive. Call me superficial but this is a little off-putting.

That said, Gist seems to plug into more services and communications options. It includes Tungle.me integration (Rapportive also reports back when a contact is a Tungle.me user although I am not sure which service offers more functionality). The Gist dashboard seems to be a cross between Google Profiles and, well, Rapportive and can be a little intimidating. According to Gist I have over 2000 contacts (my day to day contact list is closer to 900) and I don’t relish the thought of sifting through those contacts and narrowing them down to a more useful contacts list.

I can’t say that I have spent a lot of time with Gist and I have pretty much forgotten that Rapportive is a separate add-on for Google Mail – I am just used to seeing it there, presenting me with interesting data. I love the idea of this additional context to my contacts and communications. I also value good design (well, almost to the extent I value good wine and can only appreciate the stuff I like as opposed to any technically superior qualities) and ease of use. I’ve done some superficial research on the Web but can’t seem to find any good comparisons between the two services. Anyone have any experiences or thoughts to share? Do you use either/both? What do you think?



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