Where do people go for local referrals, and where should they go?

Here at WhoDoYou we’ve been asked more than once ‘why not encourage people to ask friends for referrals directly on social media?’ i.e. why bother going to WhoDoYou, if most of the results on WhoDoYou come from social media to begin with?

Well, I’m glad you asked. Er, well, I suppose you didn’t ask, but I’m happy to answer because it’s yet another nuanced layer in the WhoDoYou solution that really creates user delight. Perhaps the most important part of the answer is this somewhat surprising, but eminently understandable fact: most of the time, we are consumers of, and not contributors to, social media.

Think about the percentage of time you spend reading what others have written, and how often you write. Now it’s true there are a small percentage of people that speak loud – and often – on social media. And that’s more than okay – the beauty of these platforms is that it allows each of us to find the balance with which we’re comfortable. For some it’s on the far quiet end, for others, it’s the three-times daily picture of what you’re eating and a running commentary of your thoughts, ideas, meetings and free-flow associations.

For our purpose, however, it’s a reminder that most people don’t actually like to post broadly to social media, particularly when asking favors of a broad group of people. Which is why, it’s very powerful to be part of a group where friends are asking for and giving referrals all the time, and these valuable nuggets can be re-used when the next person needs a local recommendation. That’s almost the dictionary definition of a community, where friends help each other, and in this case, the help keeps on giving because it’s stored, catalogued and searchable.

Which brings us back to the original question – should people go to Facebook or Twitter to ask for referrals, or go straight to WhoDoYou? Our answer: yes. If you prefer (or are willing to put up with) the experience of asking friends for help, go ahead! If the conversation is public, we’ll capture it for the next person who’s searching. And if you prefer to search directly on WhoDoYou, you’ll probably find great information from friends and neighbors. Either way you win, and that pleases us because our main goal is to help people find the best local businesses. If you can do that with WhoDoYou, great!

We welcome your feedback on the concepts here, and are always happy to discuss with our customers, users, partners and friends. Thanks in advance for your thoughts,

Yoav

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Why Share?

It shouldn’t take much virtual ink to make a convincing case that sharing has become an integral part of our online experience. We share photos on Facebook, Instagram and WhatsApp; articles and art projects of interest on Twitter and Pinterest, and time-bombed content on SnapChat and the like. And while many reviews are written on a daily basis, there is something strange about this kind of user-generated content: people write but don’t often share reviews of local service providers. Clearly there is a very small segment of the population – the super-reviewers, community evangelists and frustrated writers – that look to publish whenever they can. But beyond this small minority, most people do not write reviews, and even fewer, share them.

Why is it that people are prepared to share so many intimate aspects of their lives, but by and large do not proactively share reviews? Making the question even more difficult to understand, people very regularly help their friends by answering questions about local businesses. When someone posts to Facebook ‘I need a dentist! It’s the weekend and my tooth is killing me!’ within minutes a response can be expected. Similarly when you receive a text message or email from a friend asking where you take your car for servicing, or your child to a pediatrician, you generally respond fairly quickly.

So, why do people broadcast lots of content proactively, yet rarely share that they’ve just had a great experience with an air conditioning repair person? From our somewhat unique vantage point, it’s easy to see how readily and prolifically referral requests made on social media are answered by friends and fellow group members. And we think we know why.

In essence, it boils down to one word: help. Humans are hard-wired to help each other – there’s nothing more basic than answering a friend’s question or helping out someone in need. When we are part of a community – of friends, colleagues, neighbors, team members, anything really – it feels good to help another member of the group.

However, people are much less likely to randomly help someone they don’t know; even less inclined to contribute helping content because it might potentially help some anonymous person in the future. It therefore stands to reason that most people don’t go out of their way to write reviews and share them out with the community unless they know someone in particular is looking for information. At WhoDoYou, our main focus is on cataloguing advice shared when one person is in need, and others respond to help so that everyone can benefit.

As more people come to WhoDoYou every day to find local providers, we get great feedback about the value and trustworthiness of the platform. More important, our users tend to find what they’re looking for, and have a high degree of satisfaction because they can rely on the authentic advice of their friends and neighbors.

So, we’ll continue to try and provide great recommendations when and where you need them. And if you find what you’re looking for, please think about sharing it back with your social network. You may not know when, but at some point, they’re going to need the help you can provide today. So, share the love!

Thanks and from all of us at WhoDoYou we wish you happy holidays,

Yoav