by Curt Finch

Socially Aware or Socially Awkward – Where Does Your Business Fall?

Mar 23, 20123 mins
CIOConsumer ElectronicsMobile

One of the hottest topics in the social space right now is socially aware apps, such as Glancee and Highlight. These differ from traditional social media by combining established profiles (most often from Facebook) and location-aware features so users can see who is in close physical proximity to them. So far, the reactions have ranged from extremely positive (this will change the way we network forever!) to incredibly paranoid (Facebook is tracking our every move! Watch out for black helicopters!). However, there can be no doubt that, simply by existing, these apps add a new tool to the arsenal of those who wish to connect socially.

One of the biggest differences between these apps and others is the lack of interaction capability within the app itself. Profiles typically include basic information such as where someone is employed, their general proximity to the user (although not exactly where they are) and some general interests. The idea is that the app is just a stepping-stone to bridge real connections. Thus, it differs significantly from previous social offerings in that if you use it correctly, you will actually stop using it shortly after a preliminary connection is made. The long-term relationship takes place outside of the confines of the app.

The criticism that these apps are too invasive is not without merit. It is perfectly understandable that an individual might not want his or her location known by people using the program. That being said, for those who do not mind, the potential for rapid connections is staggering. Consider Glancee, my social awareness app of choice. Say I see that five people are within 300 yards of me; I can send a message to one of them, start chatting and schedule a quick meeting over coffee to pick their brain or just to get to know them better.  As someone who has a relatively large social footprint anyway, I find the connection possibilities very interesting, and have thus far not found anyone who abuses the platform.

So, let’s put this in perspective: what can these apps offer your business? In short, if you care more about the depth of the connection rather than the quantity, it can offer significantly more than other social apps. As a writer I interview people all the time.  Due to time constraints, the luxury of a face-to-face meeting is usually rare. However, if these apps catch on, I might be able to make quality connections with neighboring businesses that are far more personal than connections made through Twitter or by following a corporate Facebook page. It will be interesting to see how people use this new tech, as personal skills hold as much weight as technical competency in these apps. Bottom line: the connections formed are dictated by the individual, and in this age where companies have hundreds of thousands of followers and fans, that level of granularity can be extremely potent.

I want to hear from someone who’s put this to use in a business setting and had great success… or maybe great failure?