Have you been keeping up with the latest buzz in mobile technology? Ambient social networking apps are increasing in popularity and its creepy location based services is hard to ignore. These apps stole the show at the South by Southwest Festival, the self-proclaimed spring break for geeks, and can be essentially beneficial in sourcing.
The original player in the ambient social networking game was Foursquare, which also became popular in 2009 at SXSW due to its geo-tagging addicting nature for us to check-in everywhere we go. However, unlike Foursquare, these apps leverage ambient awareness, which aims to connect contacts with one’s friends via social networking platforms by location, shared interest and common connections.
Ambient social networking apps run in the background of your mobile operating system and notify users when connections or people that shares common interests are nearby. Each app has its own way of doing this, but the majority of them retrieve information from social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Foursquare.
Sound creepy? They are! But these ambient apps work uncannily well. The success of these geo-location apps are largely in part to the early tech-savvy adopters in large metropolitan areas, universities and in Silicon Valley. Since these apps run quietly in the background of your mobile device, simultaneously surfacing information about the people around you, little user attention is required. When I’m in Nashville, I’m rarely notified when my friends are nearby, most ambient apps are successful if other users also have also download the app, and my friends are a little crept out by the thought of that.
However in a large city, I will receive dozens of notifications throughout the day, even while driving.
By no means will these apps quickly reach the popularity levels of Twitter, Pinterest or Facebook, however early influencers, conference speakers and technologist are jumping on the bandwagon.
As tool for sourcers attending a conference, user group meeting, job fair, networking event, or even walking by the building of a competitor, ambient social awareness apps alerts them to individuals in the area and allows for them to invite these folks into their network.
Though ambient social location apps will not immediately fill your position, they should be considered as an important platform to help grow your network and potentially find that purple squirrel. Below is a long list of ambient and non-ambient apps that I highly recommend you download.
Mobile Application Review:
411 Portal – One of my favorite apps to retrieve contact information, 411 Portal searches yellow and white pages to locate telephone numbers and addresses of candidates and companies with a few taps on your screen. Works extremely well and even displays the address of your candidate on a map. Features also make it easy to save searches to your address book.
Ban.jo – One of the more creepy ambient apps, Banjo’s ultimate connection engine taps into the most popular social networks: Facebook, Twitter, Foursquare, Instagram and more, to provide a real time view of what’s happening anywhere in the world. Be in two places at the same time or use their powerful friend alert technology to know when candidates are nearby.
Circle – Who’s Around You – Like most ambient social networking apps, Circle aims to inform you “Who’s Around You” – Know when your candidates & networks are nearby, wherever you are, no matter where you go. Circle tells you when your friends, or people from your networks (college, work, hometown, professional group etc.), are near you. You’ll be excitingly notified whenever they’re around.
echoecho – When you want to stalk — I mean source — one of your candidates or friends, echoecho helps you find them. Fast. You can see where your friends are, or tell them where you are. Just tap anyone in your address book to say “Where are you?” When they accept, echoecho shows you a map of where you both are.
Foreca.st – Forecast is a fun and easy way to meet up with your candidates, members of a user group, or anyone attending a conference. It’s basically Foursquare of the future. Checkout the cool places your friends and candidates are going, or create your own forecast to share where you’ll be later in the day. It’s social networking that’s actually social.
Gauss –Dubbed as the “people magnet,” Gauss is an ambient app that will help you discover relevant people around you and makes it easy to get introduced, connect and meet face to face in fun and safe ways. “It’s a People Magnet for your pocket!” Like all ambient apps, you will be notified when Gauss finds people near you.
Glancee – Want to find that “hidden” connection or “hidden” candidate? Glancee helps you connect with people who share friends and interests with you. Glancee aims to never allow you to miss or forget an important connection. Glancee has a unique diary feature that helps track of all the candidates you met. You will be alerted when people are nearby.
Glassmap – Glassmap is a simple, attractive way to find out where your candidates, friends and family are. Use it to coordinate meetings, events and hangouts, keep track of recruits, and serendipitously discover who’s around you. With elegant privacy controls, rock solid performance, free in-app chat messaging and more, Glassmap is a very user-friendly ambient social networking app to use.
Greplin – One of the greatest assets for a sourcer is their large sourced network. Greplin makes it easy to tap into your connections by syncing your contacts and data from Gmail, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and more. No need to login to multiple websites and dig through mountains of data just to track down a single piece of forgotten information.
Highlight – One of the most buzzed about apps of the year, Highlight uses your Facebook profile to match you up with nearby friends who share your interests. If someone standing near you also has Highlight, their profile will show up on your phone. You can see their name, photos, mutual friends, and anything else they have chosen to share.
INTRO – Finally, an ambient app that works off of professional data from LinkedIn. This app helps grow your professional network by making the right LinkedIn introductions for you. INTRO is great for professional networking and making new LinkedIn connections. It does have a privacy angle as you have to accept a new connection request before people can message you.
Mingle – Like INTRO, Mingle is fun way for professionals to network anywhere they are. Working off of data from LinkedIn and Facebook, Mingle allows for professional networking outside of mixers, conferences and meet ups. Mingle is the real-time location-based social network for professionals. No longer do you have to rely on fate or even sourcing, to make a significant professional connection.
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Kismet – Kismet finds nearby people using ambient geo-location data, but also finds them using active check-ins. The app lets you create events which can be discovered by other app users who are nearby, which can be great for a quick gathering, happy hour, or even interview. Nearby people are ranked based on degrees of separation, extending beyond mutual connections.
Lanyrd – Lanyrd is an app that makes it easier to find professional events and conferences. See events your Twitter contacts are attending and speaking at. Create a profile of events you’ve spoken at. Catch up on slides and videos from events you’ve attended or missed. One of the few apps that allow you to view attendee and speaker lists.
Local mind – Based on the premise of asking “experts” questions, this is one of the cooler ambient social stalking apps. You can easily see who is checking in the most at your local hotspot or competitor. Local mind leverages users existing check-in behaviors and allows you to see questions and answers others have been asking and answering around you, in real-time.
Sonar – One of the original ambient apps, Sonar uses publicly available profile information to help you discover the connections you share with people nearby. Sonar lets you take your online identity offline and meet real people in real life. The app finds nearby users based on their check-ins in on Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, and even data from LinkedIn.
What are your favorite mobile apps for sourcing and information management? Share them in the comments below.
Editor’s note: For part one in this series, click here.