Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Getting Local/Social "Right"

Excerpted from AlikeList: An IYP for the ‘Twitter Era’

By Greg Sterling

Late last week I got a tour of new site AlikeList, yet another competitor to enter the local consumer destination game. The folks behind the site, who include Jim Delli Santi (once of SBC yellow pages and later Yahoo!) and now Mark Law (most recently of MapQuest but before that Yahoo!), have built something that sits right at the nexus of “local” and “social.”

Jim Delli Santi told me that his revelation was that local was fundamentally about “people and relationships” and not technology. Nothing here exactly is new but they’ve put all the pieces together in a very compelling way — at least I think so.

Many local competitors have tried to add a “friends filter” to local sites, either on their own destination sites (e.g., GoodRec) or as an app on Facebook or by incorporating Facebook Connect (e.g.,Citysearch). But AlikeList does this in a more “organic” and elegant way.

Interestingly, AlikeList can be used as a “memory aid” or “to-do list” of sorts. The “try” list functionality is very interesting: these are businesses that I want to remember for the future, that other people have recommend.

...No feature here is unique or particularly new. But the way these guys have conceived and put the site together is very strong and the totality does amount to something new.

I would encourage others to take a close look at what they’ve done. This is a site that has a lot going on, yet consumers can “get” it quickly and there are low barriers to participation. Oh . . . and they just got $5 million from Syncom Venture Partners.

My Take

ALikeList looks great and easy to use. It also offers SMBs with an online CRM which is valuable.

But since

a). recommendations occur offline as well as online

b). they are based on trust;

c). trust is found in relationships; and

d). the social Web is all about relationships, their approach leaves me with obvious questions.

Is AlikeList built on the foundation of members’ social graphs? Or, like on other “Web 2.0″ local search sites, are relationships treated more like an “add-on” than the starting point?

Can ALikeList capture & facilitate "offline" as well as "online"? Maybe their mobile app will facilitate this.

They may be onto something big if they get it right.

- - Tim

About Greg Sterling - Greg Sterling is the founding principal of Sterling Market Intelligence (SMI), a consulting and research firm focused on the Internet’s influence on offline consumer purchase behavior. He also is a Senior Analyst for Internet2Go, an advisory service from Opus Research tracking the evolution of the mobile Internet.

Before SMI, Sterling ran The Kelsey Group’s Interactive Local Media program. Prior to The Kelsey Group, Sterling was at TechTV where he helped produce “Working the Web,” a national television show on e-business and the Internet. Before that he was a founding editor and executive producer at And prior to joining AllBusiness, Sterling was a practicing attorney in San Francisco.

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