Do you try to keep a steady positive review profile of your local business? Do you encourage your satisfied customers to leave you a testimonial on Google+, Yelp and Angie’s List? Of course you do, you are diligently looking after your online brand, company image and respectfully – your local rankings. And while Google have mentioned that their ranking
algorithms do not take into account the Facebook social signals, the worldwide social network gradually brings in more and more tools that help the local business owner get in touch with new customers and learn about their predisposition toward his brand and company.
Creating a local page for your business and, of course, encouraging customer reviews on Facebookis only a small part of how you can use the social media to your advantage. And even if your efforts won’t be automatically granted with high rankings in the SERPs, you would probably focus on the most influential advertising approach that has never failed to work “the word of mouth”. Because that’s what people do on Facebook, right, chat, rant, gossip, exchange info on experiences and impressions. Facebook practically represents a rich referral network that has a great potential to become a universal ambassador of your brand.
The interesting thing is that this potential has already been realized and put into a good use thanks to the WhoDoYou referral gathering tool.
As an open-minded business owner who is trying to be one step ahead of the competition, you might want to consider that what WhoDoYou offers is an interesting opportunity to monitor how well your business is doing in its niche. And while originally the tool represents an easy way to find the most positively referred local contractor, it could also be used to benchmark against your competitors and see who are the most talked about professionals in your industry. The search could be conducted without personalization – it will render universal results for everyone who enters a specific query; or it could be highly personalized – if you wish to sign in with your Facebook account (thus you would be able to see what your friends and acquaintances have to say about your business niche).
We wanted to present you with further interesting info on the tool, so we’ve decided to contact directly a company representative and request for her feedback on several hot questions. Here is the official reply of WhoDoYou:
OptiLocal: WhoDoYou was founded in 2012. How do you assess the growth, the development of the service you render since? Is it the “going mobile” step the latest goal you’ve set or you are already planning another upgrade in the near future?
WhoDoYou: WhoDoYou was founded in 2012 by former Microsoft executive Yoav Schwartz and Jeff Schneiderman, who was CTO for Answers.com. The service has since grown into a global platform, collecting an average of 35-40K quality referrals per month, and providing local recommendations for thousands of cities in more than 50 countries. We are providing a genuine need for people searching for trusted local business recommendations. You just need to take a look at the 20+ lawsuits and 2,000+ government inquiries surrounding Yelp. WhoDoYou is the first trusted, scalable review site.
As consumers rely on their mobile devices to search for local services, launching a mobile app is a must have. The next step is to release an iPhone app which we’re currently working on.
OptiLocal: Save from Facebook do you plan to incorporate reviews from other social medias? (I have read that you consider Twitter as a less useful source, nevertheless, maybe there are other networks worth including (maybe for some high end specialists LinkedIn would offer interesting results – I refer to the recommendations on a given specialist’s profile page for instance).
WhoDoYou: We currently focus on Facebook because we found Facebook produces high quality results.
OptiLocal: Is it a challenge to filter the FB reviews for bad language and off topic conversations? Usually the talks among friends tend to digress – how do you manage to offer only relevant information to your users?
WhoDoYou: You’re right. This is why what we do is so innovative. We filter billions of daily posts, not necessarily related to recommendations into high quality referrals for local service providers. We developed advance machine-learning algorithms to search Facebook conversations, which looked for patterns.
We filter through millions and millions of records and we come out with a really small number– but these are the really high quality recommendations.
OptiLocal: You’ve mentioned “The site will show the contents of the conversation and rate it based on the quality of the recommendation”. How do you define quality – is it easy to automate that quality assessment filter?
WhoDoYou: The ranking and sorting mechanism gives users a more in-depth impression of the business’s rating. The relevancy score is customized for each search, and includes things like the number and quality of reviews, proximity to the search, and a social weighting.
OptiLocal: I’ve read that you cover “the top 500 cities in the U.S. and more than 50 international markets”. Is that true and what are your further “expansion” plans?
WhoDoYou: Yes, it is true. As we add more referrals this number keeps growing.
OptiLocal: Many Facebook users prefer to restrict their profile to friends only. Do you think that the reviews you show could be biased to a certain extent? You might wish to base that on a survey as to what kind of people/nationalities, age/gender prefer to keep their Facebook profile public?
WhoDoYou: No. With WhoDoYou what you see are honest, authentic referrals free from bias. People searching for dentists, plumbers, pediatricians and other local businesses see results based on authentic advice publicly shared between friends on social networks. Users who log in with their Facebook accounts receive additional referrals culled from private conversations between their own Facebook friends and groups. Not available through public searches, these referrals are captured and securely displayed only in each user’s private Vault. Users can trace every recommendation back to its original source, making it extremely difficult for businesses to ‘game the system’ with phony reviews.