I’m excited about the introduction of Gemshare, a brand new recommendations app for iOS that’s like a mix of Yelp meets Angie’s List meets Travelocity meets your own Facebook network. It lets you create a social network of actual friends–or friends of friends–you can rely on specifically for recommendations of all kinds. Now before you say “oh no, not another social network!” this one serves a smart purpose, and isn’t one you have to spend all day managing.
You simply create a profile, invite friends to the app and create a group you know you can always turn to for the best pediatrician in your area (or better, the best one in another city if you’re traveling and end up with a sick kid), a face painter for your kid’s party, someone who can fix your stove, the best ice cream on the Jersey Shore–anything, really.
Yes, of course you can pose these same questions directly on Facebook, but if 95% of your friends don’t live in your neighborhood, it could make a lot more sense to pull out the 11 people from your Facebook circle who actually do, to ask for which personal trainer they like.
Users can voluntarily share their own “gems,” or favorites, for everyone in the circle to see; a bonus on top of the information that you’re actually looking for. You can also attach notes to local businesses, Yelp-style: That new Italian restaurant on Main is HORRIBLE, run away! Run away! Or type in specific searches like vet or tacos and recommendations that are in your network will pop up for you to check out and save.
And since everyone in your network is someone you invited yourself and hopefully trust, you have confidence that whatever gems are shared are truly genuine. (Or at least you know that the big diss of the new local Indian restaurant comes from that one friend who seems to hate every restaurant she goes to, so you can take it with a grain of salt.)
The best part is there are no tips from people with anonymous users with questionable taste and motives, no endorsements from people people who, for all you know, are working for the company they’re “recommending” in the first place. In fact, it’s one of our favorite new features of Trip Advisor–the ability to see that a travel suggestion comes from a friend of a friend, giving it more weight.
Of course, the Gemshare recommendations app only has value if people actually accept your invitation to the Gemshare community and participate. But again, if it’s a group of your friends, think how much more likely they are to help you out, rather than a “friend” on Facebook halfway across the country who you haven’t spoken to since high school.
Gemshare social recommendations app is available for free from iTunes (Android is in the works!).