Everywhere I look now, people are checking and updating social media.  As I walked down the street this morning, I saw a woman replying to an email, a man checking Facebook through its Android platform, and a teenage girl use Foursquare.  Before you think I’m judging, you should know that I was hardly immune from the habit: in-between those three events, I sent out two tweets!  But regardless, it got me thinking: people now use so many social networks, and it gets tiring to check them all; shouldn’t there be a way to aggregate our social media platforms and manage them at the same time?

Enter Banjo: a web and phone-based application that harnesses social media updates from across multiple networks and aggregates them into one integrated view on your mobile phone or desktop.  In that sense it is similar to Sonar, which Fueled has covered heavily, in that it seeks to help its users discover more connections and relationships with their friends. But Banjo goes beyond that: it allows users to view social updates and make changes without logging into individual social networks.  That means you can keep adding new networks, places, and people without having to manage each of your social media platforms by itself. Banjo sees itself as the ultimate social media aggregator: a new way for users to save time and energy while still directly managing their different online social networks.

Unlike other new social media, Banjo’s innovation is not in a new way to express oneself online; it is in its creation of a new integrated platform that is at once user-friendly and capable of handling content from multiple networks. As more and more individuals belong to multiple social media networks - Facebook, Twitter, and Path to name only a few - ways to manage all those platforms without collapsing under the strain will become critical.  Banjo seems to be paving the way for its users to manage their online presence more efficiently.

At the same time, Banjo’s other ‘social discovery’ element could prove very problematic - in addition to its aggregation service and integrated social media platform, Banjo has added a new discovery feature that alerts users whenever their friends are nearby. The service figures out if someone is nearby through their various social media updates, which TechCrunch called “creepy” in their review, because it essentially means that Banjo is monitoring your entire online presence to determine your location and then sending that material to all your friends automatically.

That feature is taking geo-social technology beyond even Foursquare, which notifies users when their friends check into a place, because Foursquare users must choose to check-in while Banjo automatically notifies its users when their participating friends are simply nearby. That element of the service is certainly novel but will surely turn off many potential customers; aggregating your social media updates into a convenient platform is one thing, using access to that social media to pinpoint your location and then automatically distributing that information to your ‘friends’ is quite another.

Banjo may be able to convince users that the discovery element is unique.  Some users will undoubtedly enjoy being able to effortlessly track their friend’s locations without lifting a finger. But it could also backfire and take away from their innovative ability to integrate social media onto one convenient page. Still, if Banjo can succeed in marrying their integration techniques with their new discovery element, they will have added something unique and novel to the world’s ever-growing social media mix.


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