Using digital tools to connect with real people in the real world is a useful tactic for expanding and increasing the strength of your social network.
I got an early look at a Poig, an online social tool that helps with this. (Beta tool disclaimer: this thing might get huge or it might implode — who knows?)
Last week I detailed Plancast, a social tool for sharing and discovering events that is similar to Poig in some ways. Poig is about making connections in the real world. But where Plancast is perhaps a bit more formal, Poig is more casual.
In geekier terms, the "social object" (coined by marketer Hugh MacLeod to describe the main focus of a particular social activity) of Plancast tends to be an event or conference: large-scale get-togethers.
The social object of Poig tends to be something like grabbing a bite to eat or a cup of coffee: small-scale get-togethers.
Of course, for most people, if you want to get a cup of coffee you’d just call a person or send an e-mail or Facebook message, for example. I don’t think Poig will do much to disrupt that method of communicating with people you already know well enough to contact directly.
However, there are times when you’re just going to grab a cup of coffee anyway, and you don’t have any specific plans and you probably wouldn’t mind if someone from your network showed up and had coffee with you.
You know, spontaneous interactions that happen day to day. Poig may be useful for increasing those spontaneous interactions.
How Poig works
Here’s the basics:
1. Complete a profile.
2. Select your event type.
3. Enter in some details about the event.
4. Publish your event invitation to Facebook and/or Twitter.
Poig allows a sign-up only via Facebook Connect. I’m not psyched about that, but I suppose it does streamline the sign-up process for those who want to have their Facebook connected to everything.
Once you’re in the interface, it’s pretty straightforward: Click a button to indicate that you want to do one of a set of preset simple activities (get food, get drinks, get coffee, go shopping, or meet up) or "other," which could mean anything, I suppose.
After you’ve made your initial event-type selection, you enter in a few bits of data and make a few other selections: Are you inviting the whole universe, or just friends, or only one person, specifically?
Of course, as mentioned above, if you’re going to invite just one or two people, specifically, there are already great ways for doing that — calling them on the phone or sending an e-mail or direct message on Twitter, for example — there isn’t much need to insert Poig into that workflow.
But for increasing casual interactions, Poig could be useful.
When you’re done with all of that, which takes about half a minute, you can choose to syndicate your invitation on Facebook and/or Twitter. Those of you who have security or "Big Brother" concerns should immediately recognize that Poig is going to let other people know what you are doing and maybe where you are going.
Like Plancast and Foursquare and other tools that straddle the social location space, Poig will be a great Internet stalking tool, as well. Be advised. Also be advised that the default invitations that Poig sends are cheesy and lack your voice — I recommend personalizing them.
So that’s how you put out a karmic feeler to let the Facebook and Twitter universe know that you wouldn’t object to some company while you get a cup of coffee. Maybe useful, maybe not — depending on your degree of extroversion.
Not just for promoting what you’re doing
One of the great things about social tools is that you can use them to listen just as often (and hopefully more often) as you use them to talk. Poig is no different. You can use Poig to find other people in your network or in your geographic area who also wouldn’t be averse to grabbing a cup of coffee.
You can search for Poig invitations that are only from people in your network, or invitations that are open to anyone nearby. Right now, since the service is so new, the nearby is fairly useless outside of San Francisco.
But this isn’t the first time that a social tool started in a focused area and then grew to be more useful as the user base expanded.
Obviously, if you’re the only one in your town using Poig, the "nearby" search won’t be that great. And if you’re the only one among your friends using Poig, then the "friends" search won’t be that great, either.
So there you have it: yet another online tool for increasing human interactions.