Ordering the Needles After Finding them in Haystacks

Finding just a few bits of useful information within a vast sea of data is a pretty neat trick. Here at WhoDoYou we specialize in filtering out the millions of posts across social networks that have nothing to do with local business recommendations. The good news is, out of all that hay, we’re able to come up with hundreds of thousands of needles – high quality bits of advice shared between friends.

But believe it or not, it can be difficult to display the resulting information in a logical and ordered way that meets the needs of a person searching WhoDoYou. I’m sure many of you can identify with times when you are most interested in ordering search results by price. At other times, quality is your first criterion, and when searching on mobile, often proximity is the primary variable. WhoDoYou introduces a social layer on top of these considerations, not to mention the precision of the user’s search and the category we have stored (e.g. CPA versus accountant, HVAC vs plumber).

So there are indeed many calculations to factor in when thinking about how best to display the most fitting results to each user, to ultimately help in making a hiring or purchasing decision. We’ve been working on this problem and are excited to soon be rolling out a whole new way of ordering our results – in a way that we believe will make it much quicker and easier for users to choose the business that best fits their needs.

Funny enough, it turns out we’re not the only ones that have been working hard to address this issue. In fact, one of the Internet’s most mature verticals, travel, is still working to make the user experience better when searching for flights, hotels and complex itineraries. Recently the New York Times did a story on ‘How to Choose an Air Travel Search Site.’ They compared the old guard – www.expedia.com, www.orbitz.com, and www.travelocity.com with a handful of newer companies.

The site I found most interesting is www.routehappy.com. They are doing a wonderful job in trying to present useful results in an order that’s meaningful to its users. Try a search and you’ll find they have a ‘Happiness Index’ which attempts to balance the price, schedule and trip duration components (as well as seat recline, in-flight entertainment, etc.). Essentially these are the primary variables used to make a purchase decision, and Routehappy is doing its best to remove most of the work for the person searching.

Coming back to WhoDoYou, our goal is to help people find dentists, plumbers, painters, movers and hundreds of other types of local professionals. Today it’s very difficult on other sites to choose between a list of unknown providers. At WhoDoYou, we give you trusted opinions, and will soon go beyond the bits of advice to showing a more ordered list based on the factors that seem to correlate most with choosing a local service provider.

We hope you’ll like what you see, and as always, we welcome your comments and feedback.

Thanks in advance,

Yoav

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Happy Holidays from WhoDoYou

With the end of the year fast approaching, we wanted to wish everyone a wonderful holiday season, and a happy new year.

2013 certainly has been a great year at WhoDoYou. We collected a massive number of authentic and trustworthy recommendations for local businesses, we built some snazzy new features, and rolled out a redesigned site. But most important (by far), we helped hundreds of thousands of people, just like you, find high quality local service providers. As the success stories pile up and more people write in thanking us for helping them find a trusted local business, we feel more convinced than ever that WhoDoYou is positioned well for success in the future.

We look forward to continuing to provide you with the best service possible to help you find trusted recommendations. Stay tuned as we have lots in store for you in 2014!

From all of us at WhoDoYou, we wish you and your families happy holidays and a great new year!

Yoav and the WhoDoYou team

WhoDoYou selected as a finalist to compete in the BIA Kelsey LOCAL LiftOff Awards

We’re super excited to announce that WhoDoYou has been named a LEADING IN LOCAL future star by BIA Kelsey and selected as a finalist to compete in the LOCAL LiftOff Awards held in San Francisco this week.

The contest will take place at the LEADING IN LOCAL: Interactive Local Media conference. WhoDoYou will compete against 10 startups with the audience voting for their favorite at the end of the three-day conference.

We care a tremendous amount about creating an innovative and trusted resource and to ensure that consumers and service providers find our site valuable. We’re proud and honored that WhoDoYou has been recognized for this by being shortlisted.

It’s still early days yet but these awards will help us spread the word that there is quite simply one place to go for finding and sharing trusted recommendations.

So, wish us luck and if you’re in San Francisco come and vote for us! Find out more about the conference and awards.

What are the top recommendation requests on Facebook?

Facebook handles one billion search queries every day. That’s a heck of a lot of searching, and you might be wondering what people are searching for, and what are they finding? Well, social search is rapidly moving beyond keywords and tags to people wanting answers to specific questions, such as “Can anyone recommend a good mechanic to fix my car?” WhoDoYou is leading the charge to provide great responses to these kinds of questions by collecting and organizing recommendations from friends, groups and the local Facebook community.

An interesting by-product of our method for gathering questions and answers about great businesses is the ability to see what service provider categories are most requested on Facebook (only in relation to local business recommendations). We are happy to share – mostly to satisfy curiosity – that the number one category people search for on Facebook is, drumroll please… Dentist!

It makes sense if you think about it because most people who are searching for a local provider prefer to get suggestions from their friends. While some categories might not be a fit for asking a Facebook friend – you can use your imagination here – there are others which make a lot of sense. Dentist is one of them. You want to find a dentist that your friends trust, rather than sit quivering in the dentist’s chair afraid to open your mouth because you picked your dentist blindly out of the Yellow Pages.  Obviously there are many more insights we are gathering, and we’ll be happy to share more info with you over time.

Stay tuned for more interesting updates and don’t forget to subscribe to the feed if you’re interested in hearing more.

Yoav and the WhoDoYou team

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.

FB recos from web (Copy)

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

The Power of Your Vault

real vault 1336 recommendations bigger

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!

My vault filter new

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