Open Up Your World With Social Discovery Apps

We are surrounded by people we don’t know on a daily basis, but what if those ‘strangers’ really aren’t as unfamiliar as we thought? A new breed of apps, categorized as “social discovery’ or ‘ambient awareness’ apps, has been generating a lot of interest. These apps enable you to connect with people based on your current location, relationships and/or common interests.

Apps such as Highlight, Sonar, Glancee, Banjo and Kismet work across social networks by combining check-ins and geotracking with social media platforms like Facebook to provide profile information of people within a close proximity. Keeping in mind that all apps work slightly different than one another, their main objective is to connect you with people based on location, relationships and similarities. Depending on the app used, locations are tracked either by the app itself (using gps tracking) or through check-ins and status updates. When a connection and/or friend is close by or within a set perimeter, your app will notify you with a ping or alert. You are then able to view their profile and connect with them through the app.

Let’s say I stop at my local coffee shop and check-in. My app will notify me if a friend, connection or someone with similar interests is at the same coffee shop or within the area. Let’s just say a classmate of mine is at that same coffee shop, my app will ping me with a notification that they are at the same location as me. This information is retrieved based on their check-in (Ex: Foursquare) and their profile relation to me (Ex: Facebook friends). I can then choose to engage in conversation with them via the app or find them and strike up a conversation in person.
What are the benefits for users?
1. Tells you what your relationship is with someone at the same location, event or check-in spot (ex: you follow them on Twitter, you have a mutual Facebook friend, etc)

2. Helps you find like-minded people to connect with at the same location, event or check-in spot (ex: you both like a certain band, or both share the same religious beliefs, etc)

3. It’s a virtual venue to meet and engage with people similar to you

The current debate is whether or not these apps will catch on or become accepted by social media and smart phone users. Some people may not be ready to accept this new form of locating, meeting and engaging with strangers. The other factor to consider is the issue with safety or security. Is an app of this nature safe for people to opt-in to and is it invading your privacy? We assume only time will tell as the app grows in use and popularity. Will you be checking out social discovery apps?

TV Check-in App IntoNow Rewards Users That Watch Commercials

A few months ago we posted an article about new entertainment check-in applications like Miso and Get Glue that allow users to check into television shows, music, movies, video games and more. The rewards are mostly stickers unlocked by watching special shoes or networks with the occasional discount for Get Glue users on the network’s website merchandise. IntoNow operates on the same basis except the app rewards users for checking into commercials instead of actual programming. The best part is that the rewards are a lot more valuable than a sticker! The app just launched in January and has partnered with PepsiCo to offer a delicious reward to users.

Here’s how the app works; consumers download the iPhone check-in app IntoNow and hit it while the commercial plays on TV. Audio-fingerprinting technology then recognizes the ad and a coupon gets downloaded to your phone for a free 20-ounce bottle of Pepsi Max. The best part for PepsiCo is that once a coupon has been received users have the option to send out a notification to all their friends on Facebook and Twitter as well as on the app itself. There’s no doubt that this is an experimental move for Pepsi Max but they’ve agreed to honour 50,000 of those coupons while getting a better idea of the potential of interactive ads.

The Pepsi Max television commercial revolves around the theme “Field of Dreams” and features many baseball players from the past and the present. The ad is already available on Youtube and is posted below. It will air during MLB games and through the end of the year. The deal is the first major brand implementation for IntoNow but if consumers catch on, it definitely won’t be the last!

IntoNow uses advanced fingerprinting technology so they not only know what consumers are watching, but also if they’re watching it live, recorded on a DVR or on some other recordable device which is very important information to advertisers. It even works if you check-in using the Youtube video! The technology, created by Auditude earlier this year, was initially intended to recognize shows and insert ads online. It takes the technology only four to twelve seconds to recognize a given clip. They have a catalogue built up of ads that have run in the last five years or so, which means chances are, whatever your watching, is recognizable.

Since it’s launch in January 2011, IntoNow already boasts 600,000 downloads and 3 million tags. It was purchased by Yahoo at the end of April for $17 million.

Surprisingly, IntoNow isn’t the first to give consumers a reason to check-in to TV commercials. Mobile music app Shazam partnered with Old Navy to offer the first 1000 users that tagged an original song during an Old Navy commercial a free pair of jeans. The main difference between this mini promotion and IntoNow’s entire foundation is that they offer the ability to check into any and every TV commercial. For advertisers it shows them who is watching their ad and it allows them to reward that attention ultimately driving offline behaviour.

The New Age Of Entertainment

Foursquare may have been the first to make the “check-in” famous, but it certainly won’t be the last. In recent months, multiple services have appeared that are offering consumers the ability to “check-in” to entertainment and cultural concepts. Since the beginning of time, mankind has always possessed the desire to share, it is the means by which we do so that is constantly evolving. Whether it’s discussing a new episode of The Bachelorette, comparing opinions on characters from your favourite movie or just letting the world know how strongly a book resonated with you; GetGlue, Miso, and Philo are your outlets.

These services each have mobile and web applications that promote entertainment-driven social behaviour and each of them has harnessed the power of the check-in.

Philo focuses on live television and is doing so quite effectively. It pulls TV listings directly from cable companies and allows app users to earn show-specific awards based on what they watch and how often they’re watching. The reward system is similar to a hierarchy, as users will work their way up a ladder to earn credits for shows.

Miso, also known as the “foursquare for TV”, creates a social atmosphere for TV viewers. It supports TV show and movie check-ins through iPhone, iPad and web based applications while rewarding frequent viewers with badges.

GetGlue supports check-ins for much more than the mainstream television, it also supports books, celebrities, wine and video games. Users are offered stickers as rewards for app activity.

Checking in and allowing users to make social connections with culture is something that Twitter and Facebook cannot compete with. What each of these services strives for is to set themselves apart from other social networking outlets. Tweeting and updating a status is temporary and within a short period of time tends to fades away and become forgotten. What GetGlue, Miso and Philo offer is of more permanence. Essentially consumers are rewarded for engaging in frequent behaviour and demonstrating loyalty for specific networks, television shows, movies, books etc. It promotes interactivity with a multitude of cultural aspects in our everyday lives and when you stop to process the concept, it seems like a no-brainer.

On the other end of the spectrum, TV networks are salivating over the data mining possibilities. These services offer networks the ability to track a viewer’s engagement level throughout a program as well as further explore the demographics and psychographics of the specific target market. Using these services, networks would have the opportunity to fully engage viewers and ultimately be in control of boosting ratings.

When it comes down to it, each service is offering their variation of Foursquare’s model with the same cultural interaction process in mind. For the time being they will battle it out with consumers and networks but unfortunately, with all three offering similar services, only the best can survive.