Real social is a new kind of technology sector that I have defined for the purposes of differentiating types of social tech.
A real social company creates products and services to enhance society in a very physical and real way. A real social company differs from a traditional social company in that it creates a technology solution that is temporarily used in order to increase human-to-human connectivity as opposed to permanently placing the technology between the relationship in a human-to-device-to-human manner.
Many of the existing social media platforms do a good job of connecting existing contacts and facilitating communication between them but have they really made humanity more social? Although the majority of people in the developed world use these social platforms, they are becoming aware of the negative effect they have on their ‘real’ social lives. Regardless of opinion, there is no doubt that social media has had a major impact on individual behaviour as well as society as a whole.
Examples of existing ‘real social’ businesses include meetup.com, Y plan and doodle. Examples of ‘traditional social’ businesses include Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook (although Facebook events would be considered real social) and Tinder. WhatsApp, Skype, Slack and FB Messenger are considered social communication and not real social communication tools (even when using video-to-video communication).
Real Social Tech Ltd is a company I have setup, based in London that endeavours to better the society we live in by creating technology solutions which promote human physical connectivity. Our intention is to offer an alternative way for people to interact with each other that bucks the trend in creating social tech that results in physical disconnection.
A real social business is not just delivering a different type of product or service to that of a traditional social business. It also has very different internal culture, values and objectives. To give you an idea I have listed our values at Real Social Tech:
- We use social insight and not technical insight to create tech, which is better than the competition in a fundamental and significant way. A technical insight led company (such as google) finds new ways of applying tech or design which either drives down the cost or increases the function and usability of the product compared to its competition. A social insight led company looks at human behaviour and its relation to tech in order to serve a human need that hasn’t been previously identified or fulfilled to the optimum standard.
- Society first, user second. The greater society at large should always be prioritised over the individual needs or wants of the user. We believe that if we focus on the greater good of mankind then the user will reap the benefit because we are all living in the same social world. Companies which put the user first can make successful tech, but often do so at the detriment of the greater good and often have a less sustainable business model. On the face of it, a lot of these companies are solving user problems but over time it can end up creating a new culture that impacts society and our authentic interaction with others. At Real Social Tech we would assert that, deep down, people want that authentic interaction more than anything.
- We create tech to work alongside natural human social behaviour, not change human social behaviour to fit in with our product. Civilised mankind has existed for thousands of years and many of the positive human behaviours that have evolved to form the basis of a better society are being replaced or repressed by the introduction of tech. We should always remember that mankind are the masters of technology and not the other way around.
- Our tech should always maximise human-to-human relationships and never become a barrier to them. The interaction with our products should be as quick, simple and intuitive as possible…not just because we want to create a better user experience with our tech, much like our competition, but because we believe that good social tech should serve its purpose and then get out of the way. This belief is in contrast to almost all social companies that survive by retaining the user within their tech for as long as possible.
Our first project at Real Social Tech is a dating platform. Dating is a sector that needs some serious real social alternatives. Amongst the success stories that they promote so well, are a huge amount of disgruntled users fed up with the way online dating works….but what option do they have? Much like the big boys in social, users go to where the crowd is already present….well, that is until they are shown another way.
There will always be a place for traditional social media, especially for documenting and sharing communications. Its just my strong opinion that we use it too much, to the point where we have often replaced or minimised our ‘living in the moment’ face-to-face connections.