In a world where account shutdowns and data lockouts seem to happen more and more on these social networks, we need to really be more aware of “owning our own data”.
We also can’t help but be responsible for others’ data as well, especially for our friends and other relationships.
For years, since the late 1990s, I had been finding ways to manage my contacts. The first was I believe Yahoo contacts (part of Yahoo Mail) then Google contacts, and then found a paid CRM that I read about in a book.
But now I am so happy with Monica HQ. I want to make a shout out to the amazing developer. It is just what I needed and couldn’t find anywhere else! He’s an indie developer and I do hope more can use and support this project as well as other projects he does. And no, he didn’t ask me to write this. He doesn’t have a huge marketing budget like those SaaS CRMS retargeting us all over the internet. He is just making an amazing product and I want to do a little bit to support.
First – How I Came Across Monica HQ CRM
I had been using a monthly SaaS (won’t say the name) to manage my relationships, a CRM. But when I wanted to export the birthdays so I could see them in an excel sheet, they said that reminders (birthdays) are not exportable. And when I asked for a feature request, they said it was not a top priority as other users were not asking for it.
Talk about holding your data hostage!
So, I had someone on the team in our company go through each contact and manually type out the birthday “reminder” from their contact details.
Unbelievable. It was my data, years (since 2015) I had been entering birthdays and children’s birthdays and anniversary reminders from my daily interactions with friends. And now, they said this is not a data field in their database that I can export (other contact fields can be).
I am a paying customer, this isn’t even Facebook or a free social network. I was paying a decent monthly fee for 5 years and they still couldn’t or wouldn’t help me.
Searched For An Open Source Personal CRM
I didn’t want to get a complex CRM. This was simply a single user (me) who would keep track of my friends and their birthdays and other special events.
When I searched CRM in Google, there were so many results. CRM is a competitive term. Luckily after reading various listicles (review blogs), I found Monica. No, not a female companion, but it is something of that idea. It’s like an “online assistant” for your relationships.
Monica HQ Helps You Manage Your Personal Relationships (and is open source)
The interface is dead simple and beautiful at the same time.
There are 2 ways you can “sign up” or use this software
1) Use their VERY affordable hosted option
I recommend this for those who aren’t technical and just want a simple way to manage your friends list.
As I write this, pricing is super duper affordable at 9usd/mo or 90usd/year. Look at any CRM on the market and you can say that this is basically free.
2) Install the code on your own server
This is more technical and either you need to be a programmer or hire someone to help you install it. Plus, you need to pay the server (hosting) fees. I took this route since I am blessed with a great team and have servers for other sites already.
He has the code base right on GitHub for you to download and use.
Start Managing Your Relationships!
So what are some ways to use this?
There are quite a bit of features but many, I don’t use. Here are the ones I am using:
- Contacts – obviously! You have to have some contacts, this is more meant for personal contacts, friends and family. But you can use this for clients and business relationships.
- Tags – this helps you organize your contacts and filter them.
- Events / Reminders – this is where you would put a birthday, or a reminder.
There is journal, so you can use this as a personal diary but I’m not using that for now.
There is also “debts” so you can track your loans and borrowings of friends.
Start Being a Better Friend and track yourself
Once you have contacts there, you can add a quick photo. But you can also just use it for your own personal consumption. (I do try to take Facebook profile photos and put there)
Going to your dashboard, it will list out the latest contacts you have access in the CRM, and then upcoming events.
This can be whatever you want it to be – birthday, anniversary, reminders.
I love the simple and flexible way to use this system.
Essentially it is a “database” that you can simply add notes and reminders about these contacts and it keeps track of the last time you connected and upcoming events.
It can also have to-do lists, and debt management which I am using a bit for personal loans and lending.
Invest In Your Relationships – your Network is your Net Worth
Thank you Regis, the creator of Monica HQ.
We need to invest in keeping track of our relationships and also not INVEST in social networks. I know a lot of us use Facebook and Linkedin but it is risky.
What if your account gets locked out. I know you would say, why would that happen if you don’t do anything wrong. Well, I am hearing more and more stories of “security precautions” and other “TOS” reasons to do that to people’s accounts.
But more important, your data is YOURS. And there is the saying if you are not paying, then you are the product.
Sure, Facebook lets you export your data but did you ever try?! I tried and when I exported my contacts, do you know what data I got?
An html file listing out their first and last name. That was it. No birthday, no email, no photos, no data about them.
Maybe Facebook will say it is to protect those “friends” from letting you “get their personal info” which sure, I can see some spammers downloading friends list and spamming them (this has happened to me on LinkedIn in the past). But there is also the other side, that person did accept your friend request and doesn’t that mean they want you to see their profile information?
The reason I think they don’t let you download it is they don’t want you to leave. They don’t want you to export your friends to another social network or importing into a Monica HQ CRM like this.
So we need to start being aware of where our data is, who “owns” it, and if it truly is ours.
So I recommend getting more “into reality” (realize that Facebook is the next MySpace) and we need to own our relationships.
Invest 9usd/mo or get technical and use the open source code but we need to take better care of our relationships.