Facebook has just launched it’s latest mini-app designed to combine the personal preferences of friends and contacts with local search and local directories. Loladex (also a nice pun on social media /chat parlance LOL) is a new Facebook application that helps you find local businesses based on recommendations by your friends. Although similar in concept to websites such as Yelp and Angie’s List, all of Loladex’s recommendations are made by the people you know and trust in Facebook.
Pros of Loladex:
- Cool concept that puts a unique twist rating businesses
- Very easy to install and use
- Fun to search for and rate businesses
- Attractive look and feel that integrates well with Facebook profile
- Easy to invite additional friends to participate
Cons of Loladex:
- Users can’t recommend businesses that don’t already exist in the default directory
- A bit on the spammy side with automatically-enabled alerts and messages
- Needs more Trusted Source options other than the handful suggested by the application
- Quality of results is ultimately limited by your friends’ and sources’ level of participation
- Not very customizable; only allows users to change their default location
Walk-through of My Experience Using Loladex:
First off, Loladex was a breeze to install in Facebook. My only gripe was that a lot of undesirable options were enabled by default (such as email alerts, targeted advertising, and other annoyances that would no doubt send spammy messages to my FB friends). So I had to carefully read and un-check a bunch of boxes. Other than that, I didn’t have any issues.
“My Sources” are the people/businesses you identify as trustworthy enough to make recommendations for you. By default, Loladex gave me 4 suggestions:
- Washingtonian Magazine (which I assume was suggested based on the fact that I chose “Baltimore” as my starting point)
- OpenTable.com (heard of it but never been there)
- Service Magic (never heard of it but looks to be a private Facebook network)
- A site called indiecoffeeshops.com (also never heard of it)
I wasn’t thrilled with any of these sources, so I un-checked them all and opted to just trust my FB friends.
The rating process is fairly simple. You search for businesses by name or keyword and location, then give them a “thumb up” or “thumb down”. You also have the option of adding a comment.
My first test search was for a Baltimore tea house I love called Teavolve, but sadly no results appeared. Teavolve is a pretty popular hotspot in Baltimore and I’m surprised Loladex couldn’t find it. So that makes me wonder a little bit how Loladex is pre-populating its results.
Also, I didn’t see a way to “suggest a result,” to let Loladex know how great I think Teavolve is. In my opinion, that’s a major letdown because it means users are limited to making recommendations about local businesses that Loladex already has in its pre-populated directory. To be a truly useful resource, Loladex should add this capability.
My next test search was for ours truly, Web Ad.vantage, Inc., and there we are. I of course gave us an enthusiastic “thumb up”!
For my last test search, I decided to try using keywords instead of an actual business name. I must be craving ice cream today, because the first thought that came to mind was to search for any good ice cream places in Baltimore.
As expected, no recommended results showed up (because I hadn’t added any friends yet, and chose not to trust the suggested sources from the previous step).
However, a lengthy list of unrated, pre-populated results appeared.
Desperate for good ice cream with nowhere to turn for advice, I thought I’d use this opportunity to ask my friends for a little help!
This part of the setup was extremely easy; just a matter of highlighting all my FB friends for Loladex to invite.
The invitation that Loladex sends by default was pretty impersonal, so I customized the message before sending it out.
Getting back to more important things like ice cream, I sent a message to one of my friends to see if she had any recommendations.
Hopefully she’ll install Loladex and respond!
I think Loladex is a pretty nifty app, but it has some shortcomings with respect to how valuable it is as a resource. The value and quantity of your recommendations would ultimately be dependant on:
- How much you use Facebook;
- How many Facebook friends you have;
- How active your friends are at rating things;
- What Loladex contains in its pre-populated directory;
- And of course, whether or not your friends also have Loladex installed!
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