Recommendations inform almost all of our choices about what to watch, read, listen to, eat or experience. They come from friends, an online review, a staff pick or even hearing a song on the jukebox at your neighborhood bar.
But there are so many levels of recommendations. There are those from friends, acquaintances, coworkers and sometimes from strangers through blog posts, articles, tweets, etc. How can anyone retain, let alone process and act on all of these?
Social recommendations didn’t start with Facebook, Twitter or Yelp or even with MySpace or Friendster. You’ve been sharing, accepting and weighing them since you could first communicate with your peers.
However, if you’re anything like me, you only follow through on a tiny amount of these recommendations. Why?
I believe the two main reasons are:
1. We don’t remember
2. We don’t care
We don’t remember because we’re busy. Never have we had as many options, and never have we been as connected with people and brands. Recommendations have already become impossible to keep up with.
As Faris Yakob so effectively puts it media space is growing as such an exponential rate that it is essentially infinite.
The same is true of content. As of January 2012, an hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second.
It’s easy to see why we need recommendations. We cannot try everything ourselves.
We’ve always used the opinions of others to assist in decision making, and none are more important to us than our real-life connections.
Familiarity with our social groups makes recommendations from them more valuable to us than those of strangers. We rely on past experiences with our peers for reference, but that’s not the only reason. We’re not just attracted to people who share our tastes, we’re also attracted to the tastes of our friends. People naturally want to connect with others through shared culture and experiences.
Within a social group, we might think of one person as the foodie, one person as the music expert and another as the most fashionable. The biological reason for this is that we cannot store all this information individually. If we think of ourselves as mainframe computers, these social contacts act as external hard drives, storing information that we can access as needed.
So maybe I trust Jonathan’s opinions on music but not on food. There’s no reason for me to follow all of Jonathan’s recommendations but only the ones I care about, in this case music.
There are recommendation applications for just about everything –food, online video, books, music, you name it. Before you know it you could easily have 15+ apps and probably only check a few.
So why not create a universal recommendation application? Not just for locations (foursquare) or books (Goodreads) or movies (Rotten Tomatoes) or food (UrbanSpoon). Why not create an app that works for everything, even experiences?
Sure, there’s Yelp, but it doesn’t tie into how we naturally use our social connections to make informed decisions. I don’t know whether to trust a review from “Michael T.” because I have no experience with him to reference.
A couple of these comprehensive recommendation apps exist. Stamped, backed by Google and featuring a beautiful interface, has had trouble getting off the ground. Oink, the first project from Digg founder Kevin Rose’s new venture Milk, has already folded.
What each of these lack(ed), however, is in my opinion the most important feature – the ability to follow only select categories of a person’s recommendations.
Remember, I don’t care about Jonathan’s fashion sense or his favorite restaurants. I only want his music recommendations. If my friend Caroline and I generally agree on everything, I can follow all of her recommendations.
And these recommendations are waiting for me to check at my convenience. I don’t have to worry about remembering to watch that YouTube video Ryan IM’d while I was in a meeting.
This addresses both the “don’t remember” and “don’t care” issues.
I believe the first app to solve this and gain a sizable user base will make its creators and investors very wealthy.
Facebook knows the power of real-life relationships when it comes to advertising. That’s why its ad units let you know if a friend already likes something. Think about the power of a recommendation app that knows what you like, what you’re looking for and your physical location. Think about the potential to send highly targeted messaging to users depending on these criteria and other triggers (perhaps weather conditions or time of day) and the ability to include one-click purchases.
If my friend Christian recommends his new turntable, I can find where to purchase one locally. If it’s not available locally I can purchase it directly online and have it shipped to my door, all through the app.
If Michael recommends a record, I can download it directly from the recommendation through iTunes, Insound or Amazon.
If Kate recommends a movie, I buy tickets to see it in my local theater or download the film directly to my mobile device.
Monetization is not just built in, it’s an integral part of the experience. Ads are not just messaging but a convenience service for users.
Who will be the first to crack the recommendation nut? It would seem that one of the giants like Google or Facebook would have a leg up on everyone, but Google’s continued troubles with anything social (Wave, Buzz, Google+) and Instagram’s rise to a billion-dollar app in 17 months mean it could be just about anyone if the app and user base are right.Posted 1 year ago with 0 notes