Local search service WhoDoYou has announced the launch of its free app on iOS devices. The platform allows users to find real recommendations for local service providers, based on Facebook conversations that have already happened in the real-world. Unlike third-party review sites, which can contain reviews that have been anonymously created by business owners or others with connections to a business, WhoDoYou focuses on real recommendations between friends.
When using WhoDoYou, consumers type the name of the service provider they’re looking for and the city to search. This could be anything from a hair stylist to a plumber, depending on the user’s particular needs. Once the search is triggered, the app aggregates public Facebook conversations that match both the key words of the service provider and the location, and present them as business recommendations to the end user.
Each business is presented alongside its phone number, a map of its location, a website address and more, where available. Recommendations are shown at the bottom of a business’s page, and allow users to tap on a status update from Facebook to go to Facebook to read the entire conversation. Again, this content is pulled from publicly available conversations on the platform.
For instance, a Facebook user could have asked their friends for a recommendation for an electrician in their area. A few friends respond with their suggestions, and the app gives businesses scores based on these results. When the third-party user accesses that business’s page in WhoDoYou, they can view these public Facebook results, as if they had done the search themselves.
At first glance, this might seem like prying into a stranger’s life, but WhoDoYou founder and CEO Yoav Schwartz has explained the company’s feelings about user privacy.
“We feel strongly about protecting people’s privacy, and encourage every Facebook user to read and understand their privacy settings. This isn’t just corporate-speak, we fundamentally believe there are conversations meant to be private, and many others which are intended to be public. Asking for local business recommendations is often done on public forums, and reviews are usually posted for the public to see. When choosing a medium like Facebook for these kind of questions, is it reasonably clear to most people that the discussion will be seen by wide audiences – whether it’s dozens or hundreds of friends.
In addition, our algorithms search for posts that are specifically seeking recommendations for local businesses. As a result, most of the responses are positive, with help or guidance on who to use. We are simply widening the audience for this useful advice, and the response has been overwhelmingly positive.”
In addition to viewing search results, WhoDoYou users can login with their own Facebook accounts and review service technicians within the app. These reviews can then be pushed back out to a user’s Facebook wall for friends to see. When logged in, search results for technicians will also include content from their Facebook friends.