Facebook: your personal recommendation engine

Facebook is more popular than Google. At least it was in the week ending March 13.

Even though it was a miniscule 0.4 percent increase over visits to the Internet search giant, it got a lot of tongues wagging.

From being a platform where people raise virtual animals and open up their lives, Facebook is fast becoming a forum to get personal recommendations.

A handful of my friends have connected their TripAdvisor and Yelp profiles to Facebook making their hotel stays and restaurant reviews available to their network. But most people I know are using their status updates to publish queries, especially when making travel plans.

Going to the Grand Canyon area — any recommendations on where to stay?

Visiting Idaho — what are some cool things to do besides visiting boh-ring lava fields ?

Is in Honolulu — where to get the best mai tais?

Instead of “googling” this information and relying on the collective wisdom of random strangers, these folks are tapping into their network — which, if it consists of friends and family with shared interests, would make it an unbeatable resource.

A goldmine of viable ideas.

The real value lies in getting suggestions from people you know. More important: these are people who know you and your interests.

You could be off to the theater district, eating the best local fare, and hanging out with surfer dudes if you ask the right folks. But be careful before you announce your plans on any social media network — if you really don’t want to reconnect with your former high school sweetheart in person (even though you “friended” her on Facebook because it was oh-so-harmless), make sure she isn’t on the list of people with access to your status updates.

Always follow the mantra: think before you post.

And create lists with variable access.

You could have one called “Close friends” who have access to everything — photos, notes, status updates, your wall. Another one called “Acquaintances” for people who can’t see your bikini shots but can read your status updates. A third called “Colleagues,” who have access to your wall but nothing else. And so on.

There are ways to tap into the potential of social networking while still maintaining your privacy. Use it wisely.

How do you use Facebook? Do you see it becoming your personal recommendation engine?

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11 Comments

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11 responses to “Facebook: your personal recommendation engine

  1. the thing about facebook and other social networks relies on just simple fact – we trust our friends and peers more than advertisements.

    a simple stat just proves it:
    14% trust ads
    83% trust peers.

    Nice blog btw!

    Keep blogging!
    http://vinni.co.in

  2. Dave

    I really don’t use Facebook as a recommendation place, though I could see it in others.

    What it is becoming is a place where people find out what’s happening in the world. I think that’s where Facebook (and Twitter, too) are overtaking traditional sources. People pass stories along to their friends and so on.

    I have categorized my friends, but I never really thought about changing access levels for each group, as there’s nothing on my Facebook account that I wouldn’t want to certain people not to see. I will have to re-think that if I ever do have that problem, but so far there hasn’t been.

    It helps that, while I am Facebook friends with my ex, we’re in such different worlds now that there wouldn’t be any issues of stalking or anything like that.

  3. My confusion here is not new. I am confused about this variable access issue. Why do you think your non-close-friends-colleagues would even think of visiting your profile/data? Why do you think you owe your status update information to a mere acquaintance? Why? Why cannot one just have a mini-website (via social networks like facebook) for yourself which is only visible to your close friends and not to acquaintance and professional colleagues? In other words, i think i do not understand the phrase “potential of social networking “. What does that mean? What is that you want/expect from acquaintance and colleagues in that context?

    • I might not be answering your question entirely but I’ll give it a shot. There may be instances when you want to reach out to peers in the same field asking for professional conferences or other such information — or if you visit a city and want to meet with peers from other institutions, casually, over a cup of coffee — I could see Facebook or other social networking platforms providing a useful service just by virtue of your being “connected” to these people.

      • “you want to reach out to peers in the same field asking for professional conferences”
        – These social networking sites have groups catering to different set of people for this purpose. Those people do not wish to know your current status or do not wish to see your personal trip pictures. All they want from you and you from them is subject-related information which should be exchanged only when asked by the other party.

        “if you visit a city and want to meet with peers from other institutions, casually, over a cup of coffee”
        – this is a good example you made. It is okay to let people know your name, photo and place so that people can access you if they want to. A mini website should be very simple, just like an envelope with your name and place on it but to open it, others should need an acknowledgment from you, instead of providing them with several smaller envelops inside the main envelop with varying accessibility. that is my take towards simplicity. you can surely differ. Moreover, information exchange should be quid pro quo.

  4. Facebook can be great for certain kinds of recommendations, but I wouldn’t say it’s all-encompassing. In some cases it’s too time-consuming as a way to gather information. And in other cases, my friends’ tastes or preferences aren’t close enough to mine to be relevant.

  5. Hi Mansi! just came upon this blog on Indiblogger..

    I like keepin a track of social media n must say facebook has a pull other sites don’t: quizzes, games(farmville, that great killer of productivity;-)) that keeps everyone hooked

    BTW, this post must have had good traffic I’m sure with FB v/s google being the latest news 🙂

    Nice post!

    My blog link: http://www.soulatma.blogspot.com

  6. Awesome post, yet again, Mansi!

    Creating lists on Facebook was something new to me, and I really found it cool! Great feature.

    As for me, there was a time when I became a Facebook addict, but am not anymore now. Facebook is definitely turning into a genuine source of recommendations from social networks. But it can also be misused at times. Just like every coin has 2 sides, this thing also has its drawbacks. What if someone were to stalk you on Facebook? What if someone knew stuff about you which you never wanted to reveal to that particular person?

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