Putting the “social” back in social media

The biggest irony about social media is that, although we define it as “social,” it’s all about interaction taking place via technology. There’s something not-so-social about a device (laptop, smartphone, tablet, etc.) acting as the middleman between our communication to another person. 

But there are companies out there trying to change that. Enter: TapItSocial.

I heard about TapItSocial’s launch in Chicago, and I decided I needed to find out more about the app. Naturally, I turned to Twitter where I was able to communicate with Steve Green. Steve is working on marketing and social media on behalf of TapItSocial.

I was curious about the concept of TapItSocial, so I spoke with Steve on the phone yesterday to find out what it’s all about:

He explained that TapItSocial was designed to make meeting people the way it was meant to be: face-to-face. You can find people near you, chat with them, and go from there. Basically, it’s like an instant messenger meets Foursquare

So, I had mixed feelings when I first heard that. On a personal level, I’m not the biggest fan of broadcasting my location all over the place. But, as a techie and social media-lover, I really enjoy this concept. Social media might be an ice breaker, but TapItSocial brings it all into real life.  

How does it work? You can “tap in” to wherever you are, show your red pin (think: Google Maps’ pins that mark your location), allow people to follow your red pin, or simply use it as a check-in type of tool. You can also tap in to find others near you. If someone is bothering you on the app, you can simply put them in “detention.” This would basically be the same as blocking someone.

You can build a persona within the app to help narrow down your interests. This app has many different possibilities for uses, so it’s up to you to determine the criteria. 

It uses your GPS location, but as of now it doesn’t connect to other social media sites. I would assume this is something that will happen down the road. 

There is definitely potential for this app. I think my favorite part is what Steve described as the “Red Pin Revolution.” The idea is that you “tap in” and follow the red pin to find out where someone is. For instance, Ramon De Leon was driving around delivering Domino’s Pizza in a Chicago cab and tweeted about following the red pin to see where they were headed next. The same concept could apply to a bar crawl, scavenger hunt, or other fun contests and campaigns: “Where’s the red pin?”

The TapItSocial founder, Dennis Birtles, talked about his story behind the creation of the app and what I found most interesting is that he believes it works best when you have a group of 20, 50, 100 people in one place “where it’s difficult to socialize with everybody in that room.” It’s funny that we should have trouble socializing with everyone in one room, but I get where he’s coming from because it means those people already have a common interest (and don’t we usually connect on social media with other like-minded individuals?). Using TapItSocial in this context can, as Dennis put it, “change the environment into something more exciting and fun.”

I personally like the idea of using technology to bring face-to-face, personal interaction back into our society.  I also think that it’s smart how TapItSocial is attempting to do so in a fun way. It makes me think that maybe this is the direction social media is headed—maybe we will take it beyond the keyboard and computer screen and apply it to actual social situations. It’s refreshing to think that conversation isn’t dead yet.

What do you think? Do you think we can take what we do on social media and turn it into real-life interaction?