Social Discovery Apps, Do we really want to talk to strangers?

The social discovery apps have been working very hard to break into the mainstream. And despite a recent exposure boost at SXSW, social discovery hasn’t been getting a whole lot of traction. Why is that? Well, here are our thoughts:

If you haven't heard about them, these social discovery apps use GPS and social network feeds to help you make friends by giving you information on the strangers that are around you. And those strangers can, in turn, access information about you. These apps are designed to help you make new friends by introducing you to strangers that you might like (based on common interests).

The most successful social apps are often expansions on popular real world behaviors. Facebook plays on our real-world inclination to be nosy or to brag within our social networks. Twitter plays on our desire to know what interesting people are up to. Geo-location apps are successful because many of us feel like where we go is a part of who we are.

Facebook, Twitter, Four Square are all enhancements of things we already do in the real world. As far as I can tell, the social discovery apps are an enhancement of the real world act of meeting random strangers. After growing up being told “Don’t talk to strangers” and then having my own kids who I often tell “Don’t talk to strangers” I feel comfortable saying that talking to strangers is not something we commonly yearn to do in our culture. In fact, I believe it’s something we avoid.

I could be wrong, talking to strangers may be all the rage in the near future, in which case the following social discovery apps will come in very handy (descriptions are from the app makers themselves):

Highlight - As you go about your day, Highlight runs quietly in the background, surfacing information about the people around you.

Sonar - Have you ever wondered what the guy sitting across from you in the bar is thinking about, what he does for work, or what kind of music he listens to?

Glancee - Be gently notified when a friend or someone new with lots in common is nearby. It's truly magical.

Ban.jo - Activate Your SOCIAL SUPERPOWERS! Find your friends’ latest location based social updates

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