Thursday, November 6, 2008

Local Recommendations Go Social

I ran across a new beta called TrustedOnes when I was looking for something else on the free pr distribution site called PRLog. Since it’s about both consumer recommendations and local marketing, I was interested and checked it out. I couldn’t remember anything similar except the TouchLocal service in the UK, which I wrote about twice in the spring.

I had to create an account in order to see anything, but that’s ok. There was a privacy statement right beside the sign-up box (typo and all): “No information is collected for any purpose other then your enjoyment of TrustedOnes.” I got an immediate confirmation email and could sign in and look around.

If you know lovely Cape Cod, it’s a pretty small market. I tried Orleans, MA, the closest shopping area to me. Only one recommendation, for a restaurant in Brewster. So I tried Hyannis, MA, the closest to a metro area we have. Still only one recommendation—for the same restaurant in Brewster. I checked it out; the reviewer loved it. The page provided a map with the restaurant location and opportunities to add a review, share, etc.

In order to see more I changed the location to Boston. That’s actually the only complaint I have about how the site works. I had to go back to the home page to change location; why can’t I just do it in the location bar on the page I’m on? But this is a beta, after all.

There are quite a few recommendations in the Boston area in many different categories. I tried “landscaping” under “Other Services.” I got only one firm in Newton, MA, which is well within the trading area. When you click through you see other tags. In this case the tags included gardens (still the same landscaper in Newton). The reviewer was lyrical in praise of what the landscaper had done for her garden—interesting! There are also reviews on this link for things like maids and cleaning services. The page itself offers links to other services in Newton—obviously a much more active reviewing scene than Brewster! All makes sense!

I was interested in seeing if anyone I knew had used the service, so I gave it access to my gmail account to find out. Ok, so I’m sort of a trusting soul, but I had read their privacy promise. They came up with 278 names (which is more than I can find in my contacts list when I’m trying to find someone!)—sorry, none of them were members. I tried a specific friend’s name; she’s not there either; I could have invited her to play along. Notice the privacy promise on that page also.

I did notice that there’s one Mary Kay consultant from Providence who has put her business blurb up several times. Tacky, but obvious. Users of the site will take it for what it is; maybe it will do her some good, maybe people are indeed only going to look here for recommendations made by friends they trust.

The marketing take-aways are two-fold. The press release, which is the only info I found on the web, doesn’t give any hint of a monetization strategy. The potential for local advertising is obvious, and maybe that will come in time. Second is that I only looked at three recommendations. Two were effusive in their praise. The third was a strong but sober recommendation for a dermatologist, which made good sense.

Why do marketers believe that if they let customers say things about them, they will say bad things? Are they that afraid that their products/services are poor quality? Don’t they trust their own customers? Is a puzzlement, but one that marketers ought to be seriously considering!

No comments: