App Review: LivingSocial Helps Connect You, Your Hobbies and Your Friends

livingicon1Livingsocial is one of the most useful recommendation and discovery applications on Facebook and is one of the most popular applications with 5.1 million MAU. The application allows users to categorize their favorite hobbies and find new items they like, track their current favorites and share them with friends. Read more after the jump..

livingrecc1Summary

LivingSocial.com is a social discovery and cataloging network that allows people to review and share their favorite movies, books, games, music, restaurants and beer.

Pros:

Clean and smooth interface; Friends activity highlighted with ability to comment; a recommendation engine ordering games by percentage values; tons of entries

Cons:

A bit confusing and randomized text placement; essentially a website integration without any innovative feature; don’t see any tie-ins into mobile

Full Review

Usefulness

Livingsocial, based out of Georgetown, gained early steam by deploying an application that allowed users to pick their favorite things like books and movies. Later they rolled out a “Pick Your Five” feature that added a myriad of categories to the existing application. The application makes its goals clear: it wants to introduce people to more of what’s out there, using its massive database and social inputs from friends as a basis for its recommendation engine. It tackles the vast majority of user interests by focusing on major categories such as albums and beer.

Like a tracking system, the app benefits from user inputs. The more those users enter, the more benefit they receive. The navigation system allows users to browse to other categories (taking them to a separate application) and go to their profile, collection, recommendations, leaderboards, trends and settings. A plethora of features allow for decent customization as well as synching of facebook account to the website to keep the data connected.

It seems as if the leaderboard section is an attempt to add game mechanics to ‘doing and recording’ activities, media consumption and hobbies. If Livingsocial succeeds, it can become a part of most peoples’ lives and add another avenue for discovery.

livingleader1Presentation

The look and feel of the application is traditionally Web 2.0-centric with round corners and bubbly bevel effects. The fonts are easy to read and the colors easy on the eyes. However the arrangement of various boxes seems out of place. Friend activity and news is the main box one sees when looking on the home page, with a ‘my friends’ section on the right side that starts near the end of the bottom section. The arrangements seem out of alignment.

Sociability

The basis of the application is sociability as leaderboards and comments are abundant throughout the application. Actions of friends are recorded in a chronological manner. Each specific item can also be shared to a number of friends. The system could improve by pre-filling some of these fields by checking friends’ profiles and having some names ready for a user to recommend an item to.

Lasting Appeal

The ‘gamification’ of life is something we all look forward to seeing, especially investors, as they keep an eye out for innovative ways to drive user behavior. Some question the ethical backbone of adding external rewards to motivate users, arguing that it hinders intrinsic motivation, but who wouldn’t enjoy gaining some points for brushing teeth that the can later redeem for free toothpaste? Livingsocial is in a prime position to have users share their information, which is in alignments with Facebook’s core philosophy of ‘openness’. As search relatively declines in value compared to social suggestions, Livingsocial aims to be central driver of being the storage and broker system of that information.