What Gets Us Excited?

When we founded WhoDoYou, our mission was to create a trusted place to find great local businesses recommended by friends & neighbors. So, it isn’t surprising that one of the things that gets us most excited is seeing people use our service and finding providers they can trust.

Traditionally people search for a service provider based on proximity or availability. Very often we lack information about whether the provider is actually someone who has given good service to a friend, or someone you know. But directory- based search has begun to take a backseat to social search. Most of us want more than just a phone number or a warm body. We want someone we can trust, based on a personalized recommendation. These word-of-mouth recommendations are at the very heart of what WhoDoYou is about.

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As we continue to evolve the WhoDoYou service and improve the site, one of the things that we look at most carefully is how successful our users are when they come to find a local service provider. We’re excited to say (and a little proud) that lately we have found that most people who come to the site end up finding someone in their area that can help them with a local service. This makes us super happy. Here’s what a recent user wrote to us, unprompted:

“Thank you to WhoDoYou for your recommendation – Mishaan Plumbing – they were here EXACTLY when they said they would be. Finished the job, cleaned up after and were well priced!!!”

We hope WhoDoYou makes it easier for you to find great local businesses and as always we welcome your feedback! Just email feedback@whodoyou.com.

Yoav and the WhoDoYou team

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The Power of Your Vault

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When we last spoke, it was to announce our launch of the new WhoDoYou. We were excited about many of the new features and capabilities, but none more than ‘The Vault.’ We’ve gotten some very excited reactions from our loyal users, and a few questions, so it seemed in order to explain in a bit more detail what this vault is really about, and how it can be useful for you.

Let’s start from the beginning. Most Facebook users can relate to the experience of trying to find an old post. It’s awful! Doubly frustrating is when you know someone posted some advice, a link or even a recommendation that you could really use now. Trying to dig back through old posts and find these little bits of gold is somewhere between very difficult, and impossible.

The classic example is when one of your friends posts a comment like: “My car broke down this morning and I’m in dire need of a good mechanic who won’t charge an arm and a leg. Please help Facebook peeps!”  In most cases, friends will reply with a combination of empathy, jokes (you know who you are), and recommendations, e.g. “My guy Joe is amazing, been using him for years. Call him at 555-1212 and tell him I sent you.”

Before WhoDoYou rolled out the vault, there was almost no way for you to go back and find the name and number of that mechanic. But now, when you log in with WhoDoYou, we’ll search through these old comments, and discussions in any of your groups, and automatically categorize the relevant posts for your benefit. In this case, we would identify that a friend recommended a mechanic, in your area, and we would place it in your vault for future reference. Then, if you ever did a search on the site, not only would we show you reviews and recommendations from others in your area, but we’d also show – only to you – the recommendations that come from your personal network.

You can also see how many friendly recommendations you have per category. Just go to the vault, look down the left side of the page, and you’ll see a list of categories with the number of recommendations in parentheses. It’s pretty cool – try it out and see how many you’ve got!

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A few other points to keep in mind. First, the vault continues to get better over time. As you and your friends share recommendations on Facebook, join more groups, add more friends, or write reviews on WhoDoYou, we’ll update your results when you return to the vault. Second, we only process posts that relate to local business categories, so we won’t store any additional information that’s unrelated to the recommendations you care about. And finally, the information gleaned from your friends, and discussed in your groups, is for your eyes only. At some point we may offer you the option to share your recommendations with friends, but that’s not something we would do on your behalf.

We hope you find many good recommendations in your vault, and in the coming weeks we’ll update you on other features and capabilities which may help you in finding the best local service providers, recommended by your friends.

As always, we welcome your feedback, so please feel free to contact us at feedback@whodoyou.com. Thanks!

Yoav and the WhoDoYou team

From huduyou to WhoDoYou

Check out the new WhoDoYou! Today we’re excited to introduce a whole new way to find trusted local businesses. A search on WhoDoYou will now find previously-asked questions (“can anyone recommend a plumber… I need a dentist”) and serve up answers from the local Facebook community. And if you log in (or log back in for existing users) you can see your own personal ‘vault’ of recommendations, already shared by your friends and in your groups.

You may have also noticed that we changed the spelling of our name. Oh, and our website has been completely refreshed. Why all the changes?

Well, we started this journey with one goal in mind: to help people find trusted local businesses. We believed, from day one, that the most important element in helping to find great local service providers is good information. So we initially created a platform that would enable people to write and share reviews among friends.

Along the way, we heard plenty of feedback. One of the most important themes was that people are already sharing these kinds of local recommendations on Facebook. Which works great for people at the time of need. But within a few days or weeks, that information disappeared – there was no way to store or search all these valuable  scraps of information. So we decided to support the method of sharing , but make the information as accessible and as easy to find as a review on the old huduyou.

After a lot of work, we found a way to capture and structure relevant public posts. So now, when you are looking for a handyman in Detroit, or a pediatrician in Dallas, you are likely to find public Facebook posts from others in your area that have already recommended some great providers.

We decided to go even further. Because we are built on top of the Facebook platform, when you log in with Facebook you will also see recommendations shared by your friends, and from your groups. We even created a new page called “My Vault” which collects your personalized recommendations in a place that only you can access. We don’t share these with others, and we never publicize this information. But what better way to tap the “wisdom of your crowd?”

So, try it out today and let us know what you think. We’re pleased with the new direction, and most excited about giving our users an even better way to find trusted local businesses. And if you have any feedback, we love hearing from you. feedback@whodoyou.com.

The Utility and Futility of Facebook’s Graph Search

Okay, let’s get a couple of things straight before we get into the meat of this topic. First, Facebook has a lot of very smart engineers that are going to make Graph Search useful over time. Second, it makes complete sense for Facebook to get into this game. Before search, Facebook could only sell display ads – essentially billboards. Not a bad business if you can show the billboards to a billion people, but not nearly as lucrative as Google’s ‘intent-based’ ads (this topic has gotten plenty of coverage elsewhere; no need to repeat it all here). So, if Facebook understands what products or services a person is looking for right now, they can sell ad space to businesses eager to sell those same products or services. Makes sense. 

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But there are two parts to this story which are of particular interest to us. The first, how is Facebook actually performing search today. And second, for what is it really useful. 

On the first question, you may have heard that Facebook is currently rolling out limited search functionality – you will only be able to access structured data, including pictures, tags, locations and likes. While some of these data types are valuable today, they only answer a limited set of very specific questions ,e.g. music my friends like, photos of my friends in NY, cameras liked by my friends.

Over time Facebook will surely begin to search user posts as well. That is, they won’t just look at tags and likes, but will search through all the text of posts and comments. And that’s when things will really get interesting, because there’s a huge jump in complexity from asking questions that have a definite answer (a city, a person, a band) to questions that have a range of answers (does anyone have a used cell phone, or what is the best health care provider in my city). It remains to be seen how quickly, and how successfully, Facebook can begin to address the tougher category of questions.

At huduyou, we have built our business around answering just these kinds of difficult questions. When people search huduyou for a dentist, a math tutor or a photographer, they want help from their friends. They don’t want general information about photography, or horror stories about going to the dentist, they want help in choosing a dentist.  That’s why we not only encourage people to write reviews for their friends, but also to use huduyou to search for recommendations already written by friends and neighbors on Facebook.

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You may have noticed that huduyou search results are starting to display more structured recommendations culled from the mass of information on Facebook. We have worked hard to develop methods that help users benefit from the Facebook conversations their friends, groups, and neighbors are having every day about the categories of greatest interest. Over the coming days and weeks we’ll share more information about what you can find. In the meantime, we encourage you to explore huduyou to see all the great reviews and recommendations you can use today to find that trusted local service providers.

Good luck, and happy hunting.

Yoav

& the huduyou team

New partnership helps build community resource

Last week we were pleased to announce that Nefesh B’Nefesh migrated their business directory to huduyou. For us, this is a great opportunity to bring huduyou to a larger community of users. It also highlights the benefit of huduyou within a community of people, where there is a common bond, interest or geography. We have always believed that huduyou can improve the community by people sharing information with their friends and neighbors.

In fact, a recent study (The Unselfish Reasons People Write Reviews, DemandForce, 6/27/12), suggests what you probably already knew: “Reviews are made because, believe it or not, people care about their fellow consumers and want to help out when it comes time for others to make a similar decision. People see posting reviews as a way of giving back to the world.”

The Unselfish Reasons Why People Write Online Reviews

So it may not be a surprise to hear that people like to help others. But you might not have known two other prevalent facts about online reviews: First, the vast majority of reviews are positive. And second, these reviews – particularly local ones – drive people’s decisions. 67% of consumers read online reviews of local businesses, and 58% of people trust a local business more if they’ve read a positive customer review.

So, the next time you have a great experience with a local business, write a review and tell your friends – they need the information. And when you’re searching for a trusted provider, go to huduyou and rely on your friends and neighbors. The experts are in your midst, now you know where to find them.

Oh, and before we go, just thought it was worth mentioning that we were recently recognized as one of the top 10 Facebook apps in Israel! It’s always nice to see positive things written by others, but the most rewarding part of building and growing huduyou is hearing from those that used our app to find or validate a provider. So, please let us know your experience, we love hearing from you. Feedback@huduyou.com

And the winner is…

You, for being a huduyou-er!

Okay, you wanted to know who won the contest, right? We are delighted to announce that the winner of the Bergen County MacBook Air contest is… Judy Gutin. Congratulations Judy! We hope you’ll enjoy the laptop, and use it to write many helpful reviews of local service providers.

While we can’t give a shiny new MacBook Air to everyone, each user of huduyou is a winner because you pay no subscription fee, get great information from your friends and community members, and it’s always there for you. So, why not consider yourself a winner for jumping on the huduyou bandwagon?

As you well know, most of us don’t need a carpenter, orthodontist, or veterinarian every day. But when you do, it sure is nice to know that at huduyou you can always find a good one, or ask your friends for recommendations. Sometimes, you’ll even find information that will help you steer clear of providers to avoid.

Just recently, a friend from Passaic sent a link to an unfortunate story in The Bergen Record about two home repair companies. Apparently the attorney general in Hackensack filed suit against them after the state of New Jersey received more than 50 complaints about their work! Imagine how many people didn’t complain, but also received poor service (they do chimney repair, roofing repair and gutter cleaning, according to the article).

So, while we prefer to focus on the positive, when you have an experience with a service provider – good or bad – that you’d like to share with others, you can go to huduyou and write a review today. Your friends and neighbors will be able to see it immediately, and maybe next time a provider is doing shoddy work, it won’t take years of bad service and more than 50 complaints to make them accountable.