A few weeks back everyone was talking about Highlight. A great networking tool that seems to have been the most talked about app at SXSW. (More on that later)
I’ve been playing with some Social Networking apps for a while and wanted to give some thoughts and show you some of the stand out ones.
To explain, these are apps that require no checkin for venues yet let you collect information about other users in the area. Your phone will be sending out a signal that will tell other users you are near. (Yes you can turn it off if you want.) they can be used to find people with similar interests, exisiting friends, friends of friends, and in some case specific types such as developers or business leads.
There are loads. Some have been round for ages, some for networking and getting great contacts for projects and some for, well you know… (Hello Grindr) The stand out (non grindr) ones are Sonar, Glancee, and Ban.jo.
So including Highlight, lets have a look.
Highlight : I’ve been using highlight for about a month now, and out of all the apps I’ve been looking into I think its the least goodlooking one. I don’t like it’s interface at all.
Highlight plugs into your facebook, takes all your interests into account and matches you with people. These matches are based on the interests and frineds in common. As mentioned before, there has been massive buzz at SXSW, but I think there are better tools. I have engaged in one chat via the app and that was via a user that was testing it too.
So far my matches are based on facts like a user and I both like Spotify. Which is probably a common match, thing is, my interest on Facebook are not what I would use to match up to someone I may need to network with. Yes we could probably talk about Pearl Jam as we both like them, but what if I was looking for a developer for my next campaign? What if I wanted an amazing graphics guy thats just finished a freelance gig and may be able to work on a project I need completed. If highlight can add those sort of options, remove face book interests. Or at least give the option.
Here is Paul Davison talking to Forbes at SXSW about Highlight :
Next up, and a personal favourite : Sonar
I installed Sonar quite a while ago and only recieved notifications on it when at industry events or other online agencies.
Sonar, pulls in your Linkedin, Foursquare, Facebook and twitter profile. Which allows you to see alot more things in common then Highlight. Things like how many similar twitter profiles you and another person follow, or how many Foursqare friends you share. You can click to see a linkedin profile too, see who you are both connected to on facebook.
It does show how small a world, right now at London waterloo, everyone thats checked in is showing a lot of things in common. One downside here is we are merely following the same large twitter accounts, this is probably something that will happen a lot – Again I may follow Londonist, but it doesn’t mean I want to talk to you.
I like the options to swipe through various people and the little bio’s they have, quick access to the profiles they have linked and seeing if they are someone you would like to network or connect with. The app also allows you to see people or places via two buttons. SO if I’m looking to see if there is a busy place, the places tab shows areas near me and hom many people are there. It allows me to see who those people are too. Clicking the people button will show me who is nearby and also who nearby is releavant. Based on the shared interests through the various social channels you may have plugged in.
There are options to “say Hi’ and introduce yourself – all through twitter. In my opinion Sonar should have gotten a lot more recognition over Highlight, it looks better, allows for more channels to be plugged in – therefore making it easier to network. Only difference her (and I could be wrong) Sonar relies on checkins or geo posts via twitter to determine your locations. Highlight is constantly broadcasting. If sonar brings this in it could be onto a winner possibly?
Here’s a little explanation from the makers themselves :
Glancee. Looks good, nice big photos as to who is nearby when out and about. Glancee is able to recommend people to you too. Lets say you are sitting in a coffee shop minding your own business. Your phone buzzes because there is someone there with similar interests and possibly similar connections. You can simply click and use one of those as an ice-breaker
Thing is, again, this app uses Facebook interests at first. You can add more interests, but it needs to find them in its list.
There is a diary that will keep track of people you may have been near yet didn’t have time to contact. (Or would rather harass them from the comfort of your home).
Once you click a user you can click add to contacts as well. What would be cool here is if you could sort what groups you were adding them to. For instance if I wanted to find some potential developers I could click add to ‘developers’ for future reference.
Here’s the Glancee clip.
Finally, there is Ban.jo. A slick little app that has a nice design to it and a bit more functionality. It uses Foursquare, Twitter,Facebook, Instagram and your Google address book. With an option to suggest more social networks. No linked in on this one though.
I’ve had more notifications come through on this, buts probably due to it pulling in data from channels and not the app itself. There is a nice map option to see who’s around you, this allows you to click into each pinpoint and find out more. There is also a ‘people’ menu that just shows thumbnails of users. (Dating app?)
Ban.jo allows you to see who viewed you too, see what sort of interest you are picking up.
There is also a friends alert setup, you can turn off certain friends that are always near you so you aren’t constantly buzzed when they are near. If you want you can set the distance as to when it should alert you. Might be handy to avoid people too. (Let me know when that nutter is 1km away)
There is a keyword search facility under the updates button. A great little way to find interests based on a keyword. Time in something like ‘Startup’ and it will display users with that keyword in their biographies. So making sure what you want to be discovered for should reflect in your ‘About Me’
It keeps track of your viewing history, who you checked out. Plus you can star users you see as important. All the users you come across have thier tweets, intagrams and foursquare checkins on disply so you can find out even more for that icebreaker.
There was an interesting article on Techcrunch recently regarding Highlight and why it wasn’t the breakout success everyone at SXSW thought it would be. One of the reasons, and this probably goes for all of them, is the “things in common’ aspect. I really don’t want to connect to someone that is interested in music, just like me… thats not a real in common thing, especially if its based on some like you clicked or interest you added to your facebook profile. These apps should allow users to great tags, or specific interests. How about being able to quickly filter your connections – Today i need to conect to php developers for a potential project. Just being able to target who you connect to.
I’m in the middle of looking for a developer for a startup and have set all of the above up to see what happens. I’m attending a couple meetups in the next few weeks and want to see if they work, it would be amazing if I could meet a few people have a few chats yet when you get home one of the apps has a list of petential people I should talk to.
Would be cool for brands to comeup with thier own or somehow piggy back. Imagine being a store owner and you suddenly see that todays shoppers consist of 14 people looking at televisions and 3 looking at gaming consoles. Boom, a sale, or strength in numbers. All the users would do is add a shopping list for instance on their way to Tescos, and as they walk in the shop changes prices based on demands. Imagine the highstreet on christmas? You add everything onto some app, be it Mass Effect 3 and some other games. The shop then can see how many people have visited and know what they want. Could work? How about a restaurant … you could add your order of your favourite dish, as you walk in, its ordered. Or….you and your mates are sitting in a pub and suddenly feel like vietnamese food. Simply add to your app. Somewhere close by a vietnamese restaurant sees that there are ten people in the area feeling like that food. You send a voucher, tell them to come over.
As I mentioned above, these apps have a very slow uptake in the UK, its a pity as they have so much potential. If you are reading this, give it a go. Add me, or something and see what happens. I can’t pick a specific one just yet, they all need an improvememtn in how to make the connections – maybe foursquare needs to buy one and roll it out. (After all checkins are dying – RIP)
So have a play, if you pass me on the street or walk past my building, say hello.
(oh and if you are an app developer, lets talk – think we could beat this lot, I have an idea)