A key premise of social search is that the people you know and trust are the best sources of personally relevant and reliable information. As Maureen Heymans, technical lead for Google Social Search said in a BBC article, “When I’m looking for a restaurant, I’ll probably find a bunch of reviews from experts and it’s really useful information. But getting a review from a friend can be even better because I trust them and I know their tastes. Also I can contact them and ask for more information.”
A Silicon Valley startup called TrustHop is capitalizing on the social search trend by providing a free online service where users can find and share trusted circle recommendations for service professionals and businesses such as plumbers, electricians and nannies.
Using the service, consumers can connect with friends and neighbors, ask for recommendations from them, search for quality local experts, and get price quotes. Members can tap into word-of-mouth recommendations from their personal groups on Facebook, Webs.com or TrustHop.
The founders, ex-Zimbra product director Viral Kadakia and Karun Veligeti, describe the service as a trusted Yelp for local services which short-circuits less effective research methods of browsing anonymous reviews, fruitlessly trying different search phrases or dragging out the Yellow Pages (a fast declining favorite but still used by old school types).
In the case where a user cannot find trusted recommendations for a service, Trusthop provides Yahoo ratings and Yelp ratings.
TrustHop receives a commission from service providers when they win a job. The company also offers providers the option to buy leads.
While there are others like Angie’s List and ServiceMagic in this space already, TrustHop’s goal of hyperlocal social search within online communities in combination with an Amazon-like shopping experience makes them an interesting company to keep an eye on.