When you join a social networking site, after you create your profile, the site prompts you to go through your email databases to connect with your friends on their site. Since that is what you are there to do, it is reasonable that they make it as easy as possible for you to bring your contacts onto their network, but the caveat has been that on most sites you can pull in your database but you cannot pull it back out. So after you have been on the network for awhile and increased your connections, you cannot then take those new contacts and put them into an email database for instance.
Excluding business networks like LinkedIn, who understand that business networking is about building a database to strategically and consistently communicate with to increase sales opportunities, most networks want you to keep your “communication” on their sites. Taking that growing database off of their site is a big NO NO.
Facebook has been the hardest to tap into, they are great at collecting your information for their own purposes…namely ad revenue, but have been against you collecting data to take and use off of Facebook. In the past email addresses were images and so building applications to extract contacts and their email accounts was next to impossible, well now emails are text (not sure when that changed) and Yahoo is turning the tables.
On Yahoo you can import your Facebook contacts into your Yahoo address book http://address.yahoo.com. The import grabs first and last name and email address. Then you can export that data into a csv file to be saved and incorporated (adhering to the CAN–SPAM Act) into your email marketing campaigns. Combine the Yahoo feature with the Export Friends to CSV app on Facebook and you can get first name, last name, hometown, current location, birthday, gender, and email.
You can also take the exported Facebook contacts and import them to your other networks to connect with your Facebook friends and their friends/followers/contacts on other sites. This is how you grow exponentially.
You can either use the newly created csv file or let the network do the work for you by giving them access to your yahoo contacts. I am not sure why gmail and msn have not jumped on this yet, but it is definitely a lost opportunity for them. We found a few Facebook and non-Facebook applications that claimed to be able to do what yahoo has accomplished but most of them were either gone all together or “under construction”, if you know of any other tools to extract Facebook friend information we would love to hear about it.
Until then……Happy Networking!