The Rise of Ambient Social Networking

There’s a new trend in social networking, coined ambient social networking by this year’s South by Southwest conference. It’s been in the works with new technology, gadgets and social networks coming out every day.

What exactly is ambient social networking, and where did it come from? The term can be used in conjunction with SoMoLo, or social, mobile and local. SoMoLo refers to social networks, mobile devices and local-based intelligence affecting the way we purchase. We use Facebook and Twitter to tell our friends and followers what we have bought, and what they should buy. In turn, we get product recommendations and restaurant tips from Pinterest and Foursquare. Smart phones are now an integral part of many purchases, as we can check out phones to compare prices and see if items are in stock.

Local also refers to consumer location. Social networks that tag your location such as Instagram, Foursquare, and Path are extremely popular. Facebook and Twitter recently added geo-tags to its posts so you know where your friends are tweeting and posting from. Many restaurants, department stores and hotels have picked up on this trend by adding deals when you check-in via Facebook, Foursquare or Yelp.

All of this interconnected activity leads us back to ambient social networking, or sharing without all the extra work. A prime example is Highlight, an application that tells you when your friends are close by. Even further, the app remembers your Facebook Timeline and scans the vicinity for people like you. When it finds someone who has similar interests, or mutual friends, it notifies you.

The possibilities for applications like Highlight are endless. It could be used as a way to make new friends or a location-based dating application. Many have criticized our growing addiction to technology as isolating, but Highlight seems to bridge this gap, as it allows for a way to meet strangers as we go about our lives.

The drawbacks of ambient social networking are over sharing and lack of privacy. People you don’t know will know your location and have a way to get in contact with you. In addition, all the extra information could lead to burnout and deactivation. Do you think ambient social networking will catch on, or do you think privacy concerns will get in the way? Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments below!

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4 Comments

  1. I think there can be overkill by some people with all the checking in – they can be so busy checking in they aren’t really looking up to see where they are actually are. Although all these networks serve a great purpose; but used in moderation – says a tweetaholic :) Great post, thanks for sharing on Bizsugar,com

    • golda_criddle

      You’re totally right, Sian! While I was researching Highlight, I found this post on ambient social networking that you may find interesting to read: 
      http://huff.to/xHCvLm. I’m glad you enjoyed my post, thank you for reading! 

  2. Richard H Blaine

    A great (non-commercial) example of ambient social networking is Vail Resort’s EpicMix that takes away the friction of social media photo posting and tracking of skiing stats. This is a new trend and being pioneered by the company we use at Facebook to do the same at all our own events http://www.dwinQ.com. 

    • golda_criddle

      Thanks for the comment and the link! 

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