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

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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