Now, if you’ve never heard of a poken, don’t worry – I hadn’t heard of them either until a couple of weeks ago! The people at Poken claim that, “We’re not another social network. You’ve already got that. We’ve thought bigger to let you instantly bridge the gap between the people you meet in the real world and those you stay connected to online.”
So, it’s not a new social network – it’s a way of sharing your social media profiles with those you meet offline.
The way it works is you buy your poken (I got mine from Firebox.com), and when it arrives your remove its arm and plug the USB connector into your computer. You then run the Poken file which automatically takes you to the registration site. There you choose what information you want to make available – on mine I’ve included my name, avatar, location & email address. You also choose which social media profiles you want to connect to your poken – I chose Twitter, FaceBook, Flickr, LinkedIn & Ning. One small glitch with adding my Twitter profile was that it asked for my email address & then couldn’t find my profile – what it actually needed was my username.
Once you’ve set everything up, you are then ready to to high four: this entails aligning the palms of two pokens allowing the devices to transfer the information they contain. It stores up to 64 contacts, and when you return to your computer, you connect your poken and it uploads all your new contacts. You can then use that information to connect with them on the various social media sites they frequent.
Nifty, isn’t it?
So, that’s the theory, but how did it work in practice?
Well, first thing I’d say is that its cheery design and the cleverness of the concept makes me inordinately happy, and at the tweetup I discovered that everyone who had one felt the same way. However, that said, it is all still relatively new & so there weren’t that many out of a group of 50 tweeters who had one. The poken concept will only really take off the more popular the product becomes. As an electronic business card which specialises in social media it really is an excellent product, and I can’t see any hinderance to its ultimate success in the market.
The actual process of the high four went without a hitch; there’s a small magnetic pull between the 2 palms, and then aften a few moments both pokens glowed green to indicate that the transfer had been successful. Not once did a see a red light to say that there was a problem with the transfer, and there weren’t enough tweeters with pokens to take it up to its limit. The only thing I would say though is that it takes a few seconds for the device to stop glowing green, and it’s only once it’s stopped that you can then high four another poken. This wasn’t a problem as such, but it was something I was conscious of while trying it out at the tweetup.
One small design issue seems to be the black clip that it comes with to attach it to your keyring, mobile phone etc. It doesn’t seem particularly secure & I heard one story of someone losing theirs because of this*. However, this is a minor problem with an otherwise excellent product.
Once home, the uploading of new contact details was extremely simple and I was then able to click through from their digital profiles to connect with them on a really broad range of social media sites. Really very impressive.
So, should you get one?
I would say yes, if you’re likely to be coming into contact with others who are social media users i.e. if you’re in an industry where social media is popular, or if you’re intending to go along to a social media meetup, such as a tweetup, flashmob, conference etc. If you don’t tend to come into contact with social media users, then a poken is not going to really be worth your while – one poken by itself isn’t particularly useful.
If you do choose to buy one, then make sure you also take along some old-school business cards too** – at this early stage (Poken is still in Beta, after all) you cannot assume that everyone will have one and you will want to share your details with others who do not yet possess a poken. Do not lose out on an opportunity because of this assumption!
Trevor Mendham has started a new blog Press The Plastic dedicated to these wonderful new gadgets, so for further information on poken, I would recommend that you check it out.
So do you poken? Are you tempted to? Any advice you’d like to give a new poken owner? Is there something about the poken that’s putting you off? Do please leave a comment & let me know what you think!
*Turns out it was @lesault who lost his poken due to a faulty clip.
**I recommend Moo cards which you can customise with your own or others’ Flickr images.