No predictions here. Just an observation instigated by a recent chat with a prospective investor.
He expressed concerns about YouGottaCall.com's ability to scale to a nationwide presence. The reason for his concern? He cited that the businesses we serve (small businesses and independent contractors) tend to be fragmented and difficult to reach.
Here's the irony - the Web actually makes it easier to reach and to help the small and disparate businesses we're targeting. With User Generated Content (UGC), our scalability will be limited by our software design, not by fixed costs of distribution.
With this in mind, I pointed out:
"We have all seen massive amounts of search move from traditional media to the Web in a relatively short time. The social Web is now a main driver of Web traffic, and we envision that people will naturally adopt the use of social media for finding and sharing word-of-mouth (WOM) referrals.
"As the social economy unfolds, those businesses enjoying the greatest trust will accrue the greatest benefits from WOM. As they benefit, they will be able to eschew traditional, expensive advertising and elect to reward their network responsible for their WOM sales growth. Our vision is to support this.
"True - YouGottaCall.com is targeting the "long tail" of advertisers - those millions of businesses operating locally who already get most of their sales via WOM. And yes - the marketplace is fragmented. However other sites that offer unique value such as Craigslist and Facebook have established themselves in this space and shown what's possible."
People know what they want - high quality, highly filtered information. Having tasted this and the other benefits of social networks, 2010 will see people continuing to demand sites with more and more social functionality. As the Web is used more and more for economic transactions, these transactions will become more tied into our real, local networks of neighbors, co-workers and trusted service providers - as well as into our Web-based social networks.
It's a safe bet to say: The way millions of service businesses, merchants, professionals and contractors will interact with their local customers (& vice versa) in the future will look more and more like YouGottaCall.com.