In a world of exploding choice, where technology and industrialisation mean that supply can vastly outstrip demand, social is really the only filter that works to get real answers to complex choices.
A real life example from this week, that shows how much further we really have to go: a group of friends are visiting New York City, where my wife and I both used to live (not together – which is relevant) and wanted a list of restaurants to eat at; really they want to know what to do, but this is a big list, and he is in the food business so the eating part is critical.
Now if you look at the choice process for an individual, the funnel today looks something like this:
- all the restaurants in NYC (& Brooklyn)
- all the restaurant aggregators, services, reviews and guides
- all the online restaurant services
- all the online services that allow you to book electronically (good when your english is limited)
- the actual restaurants that allow you to book electronically
So, the point is that it’s hard to make a choice, even with the tools available and then to act on it; so we tend to give up on this and just ‘ask a friend’. In this case, he asked us for a list (and even to book some of them – which is really a must in NYC). So here is where it’s interesting that my wife and I both lived in NYC at different times – we each have our own top 10 list of restaurants and there are only a few that seem to overlap. So just using a social approach by asking a couple of friends can either lead to another set of massive results or be very inconclusive.
This is where social by design comes in, if I could quickly access a service that combines all of my friends restaurants + ratings for a given city (Zagat.com isn’t Facebook enabled) then I’d save myself a lot of hassle; then add to this the facility to book and confirm reservations (much like OpenTable.com which isn’t Facebook enabled either) then I’d be a happy camper.
I’m not the first to raise this, and TripAdvisor.com has done a great job in the travel business (check out their site when logged in with Facebook) but the point is really that social by design is a must in today’s society of endless choice; drop down menus, categories, meta filters and even natural language analysis just don’t cut the mustard and only our friends can be a real source of trusted information (ref: Nielsen: Global Consumers’ Trust in ‘Earned’ Advertising Grows in Importance).
I’ve added the list (so far) below in case you’re hungry in NYC.
Disclaimer: I work for Facebook and social by design is my life!
Our selection of restaurants in New York City:
– Bubby’s Tribeca, (or Brooklyn) 120 Hudson Street, 10013 – owned by stars, a place to be seen
– Clinton Street Baking Company, 4 Clinton Street – great brunch but you need to get there early
– Stand (Burger), 24 East 12th Street, 10003 – one of my favourite burgers
– Chipotle (everywhere) , 350 5th Avenue @ 34th Street – this may be a fast food chain, but the best burritos in the world
– Shake Shack, Madison Square Park, 23rd Street & 5th Avenue – a classic even just for the experience
– Union Square Coffee Shop, 29 Union Square West, 10003 – a classic for a drink (or lunch/dinner)
– Fanelli’s Cafe, 94 Prince Street, 10012 – a bit of a tourist trap, but good food
– The Spotted Pig, 314 West 11th Street @ Greenwich St. – West Village style
– Peter Luger, 178 Broadway, Brooklyn – real steak in Brooklyn, pay in cash
– Buenos Aires NYC, , 513 East 6th Street (b/w Ave A and Ave B) – one of my favourites
– Novecento, 343 West Broadway, 10013 – another fashion hot spot for meat eaters
– La Esquina, 3 differents restaurants (1) Taco Stand (2) Cafe (3) Brasserie – even reserving is complicated here
– Rosa Mexicano, 9 East 18th Street (b/w 5th Ave & Broadway) – good mexican in the city
– Blue Smoke (Barbecue + Jazz) 116 East 27th Street (b/w Park Ave and Lexington), 10016 – I’m not a jazz fan but the BBQ is good
– Smith & Wollensky, 49th Street & Third Avenue – steak for the serious
– Spice Market, 403 West 13th Street, 10014 (Meat Packing District) – cool place in MPK
– Caracas Arepa Bar, 93 1/2 E. 7th St., New York, NY 10009 – a secret
– Nobu Next Door, 105 Hudson Street – not as pricey as its cousin next door