06/07/2012 05:48 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Social Media Is to Social Discovery, Like Porn Is to...

...Well, good porn, I guess. The Glimpse Social Discovery Conference in San Francisco brought together an all day fest of experts in the Social Discovery space. Social Discovery is the new black, I guess, and that black is a better, one-more, one-louder version of social media; for it takes into account the core emotional benefit of Social, and that is "discovery," and how that makes us feel. Be it People Discovery, News Discovery, Location Discovery, Lifestyle and Entertainment Discovery, or even Investing in Discovery. At our core we are a people that just need to know what's in Pandora's box. The temptation to reach out, discover, uncover, is built into our DNA. It is why we seek out new life, and new civilizations, and boldly go to where no... blah blah blah. You get the point, however mired in bad references and the usage of Social as a noun.

Represented at Glimpse and speaking together onstage on the topic of People Discovery were those who have helped defined the space, and are trying to figure out their place in the ever expanding Social landscape.

  • Moderated by Jon Swartz - technology reporter, USA Today
  • Rick Marini - founder and CEO, BranchOut
  • Allen Blue - co-founder and VP of product management, LinkedIn
  • Geoff Cook - co-founder, MeetMe
  • Greg Tseng - co-founder and CEO, Tagged

There are many different, and other models of social interaction that all serve slightly different consumer need states. The first is called "real life," however, since none of you reading this actually have a real life, I am going to concentrate on your digital life. Is the pang of rejection any easier online than in real life? I do not honestly know; people don't want to be my friend in either place.

If Facebook is a class reunion, then Tagged is the event that you managed to score an invite to but don't know anyone yet. Alas the night is young, and you'll have plenty of opportunity. Unlike in the real world your social anxiety morphs into social discovery with Tagged. You just have to be willing to go up and talk to someone, and Tagged makes that easy, for if you do not, someone is likely to buy you as a pet.

"People have not cracked People Search yet the way Google cracked generic Search" Greg Tseng, CEO of Tagged, states. "But you have to understand that we [in the tech business] are time starved. Most people in the world are not. We design products for them."

In addition when asked about gamification: "We are all hard wired to respond to incentives, but gamification can cheapen a brand if used too forcefully. Gamification is best when used to facilitate social discovery, not replace it."

On Facebook if someone friends you that you don't know, they have overstepped their bounds, but on Tagged and MeetMe that is the purpose. It is not about people you know, it's not about people you want to date (although it can definitely probably help your cause,) it's about just reaching out and connecting. A virtual analogue to a bar or coffee shop. Yes, you can go there to try and find a date, but you may also want to play a game, meet a friend, or just watch people. It shrinks your world so you can let in different viewpoints, and experiences. Isn't that what social should be? Your Facebook "Friends" represent a very small slice of opinions, views an experiences on this planet. Why? Because we all tend to group with like minded people in the real world... and the result is that our Facebook friends are just a virtual representation of our prejudices, political beliefs, and small world thinking.

Tagged lets me experience a less sanitized view of the world... and I like that. If the real world is perplexed by the social anxiety of getting out and meeting new friends, Tagged is like a combination of Zoloft and Tums for that anxiety. On Tagged you do not have to take yourself too seriously, and you can just have fun interacting with people. Social Discovery should be fun, and Tagged understands that while also understanding the science of friendships and how we relate in the real world. Honestly, why aren't more people using Tagged? Well, if you didn't know, 70 million+ already are. That's a couple more zero's than you probably expected.

Geoff Cook from MeetMe illuminates that the dynamics of social interaction are defined by the site. When the purpose of the site is meeting new people, they do not churn out like a dating site which you would violate social norms if you were still active after dating. It is a much more natural interaction on Tagged and MeetMe, just in a digital form.

As for the other members on the stage I am on BranchOut but do not use it much. Like a Facebook sucker fish I filled out my BranchOut profile, entered my employment information, and voila! uh... I said voila! It has yet to grab me in a way that is sticky. Am I branching out to interact with the people I am connecting to? or do I just want to mine them for a possible job? Like Kuato from Total Recall BranchOut is kind of stuck to Facebook, and that is what has driven the growth of the site. But don't ignore their website; outside of Facebook BranchOut has an excellent product and I vastly prefer to use it over the Facebook-integrated app. When I really think about it it's a brilliant way to feed users by capitalizing on their Social Graph. LinkedIn may be king of the business end of social discovery but BranchOut is definitely a distant cousin.

For Allen Blue and LinkedIn, business is about meeting people and doing specific things, and hopefully forming longer term relationships so you can go do something together. But it is not about just meeting anyone. You have specific tasks you need assistance with. You do not just want to be a talker and have people listen to you, you need another talker to work out your issue with. And that he believes is where LinkedIn will be able to shine.

At our heart we are a people that explore; welcome to the ever evolving next wave of social.

Since publication Sean X has become an Advisor for Tagged which is mentioned in this article.