How many of your Twitter followers have you ever met in person? Have you met even half of your Facebook friends? No? Joshua Lineberger has a problem with that. The 28-year-old founder of Socialtopias, a mobile app that launched in Charlotte on New Year’s Eve, wants to get you off your device and hanging out with people IRL.
“Old social media draws people into created online personas,” Lineberger says. “Face-to-face interaction builds courage to call that girl.”
The company just released a beta version for Android users, as well as the desktop site. (The iPhone app is coming soon.) They're targeting about 2,500 Charlotteans they call “Socialtopians” to give feedback and uncover any technical glitches before a national launch.
“The Android app gives us instant access to user feedback, and then we can spin around subsequent updates loaded to Google Play,” Lineberger says. Some of the tweaks loaded to the latest Android app version are multiple chats with multiple sets of friends and improved zooming and scrolling on the central Charlotte map.
Socialtopias has two main functions: social planning and to serve as a destination site for businesses. Its social functions include suggesting destinations based on previous searches, enabling chats with sets of friends and an interactive map of Charlotte’s nightlife that shows which spots are jumping based on the number of Socialtopias check-ins. Businesses can promote exclusive deals and flash offers; they are projecting a daily average of 75 businesses to sign up.
To help build buzz, the company is hosting six Hornets Night Out giveaways before March 31.
“So much of social media isn’t truly social,” Lineberger says. “The digital world was created to enhance our lives, but we’re really more disconnected. So you have 2,000 friends on social media and nothing to do tonight.”