Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Is social media big data going to kill user reviews?

It seems that nowadays people are using social media for everything. We have come to a point where when a person buys an onion he shares it on Facebook, tweets about it and checks-in his location. This means that the social platforms accumulate an endless amount of knowledge on people’s behavior, habits and day to day life. Lately we are starting to see more and more apps that are analyzing this data and using it in a smart way to offer new and innovative capabilities.

One of the most interesting uses of this data is done in the businesses and tourism recommendation field. Apps like TourPal Travel Guide and Jetpac City Guides are analyzing this data and using it to recommend restaurants, bars, tourist attractions and more.

There are many advantages to using this big data analyzing method as oppose to the old method of user reviews. The first advantage is the scope, starting a new user reviews system means that you have very limited coverage of places and each places has only few reviews, whereas using social data means that from the get-go you can have worldwide coverage of places and each place has a large amount of data that can give a very accurate view of its popularity, the type of people that go there, the peak visiting times etc. Another advantage is that big data is pretty much impossible to manipulate. User reviews are subjective and many times biased, when we look at a business that has 3 reviews we always ask ourselves how many of them were written by the owner. When a place has thousands of check-ins we can be assured that no one is gaming the results.

Jetpac’s app uses social data to determine which bars are attended by hipsters (by counting the amount of pics of men with hipster mustaches) and which places have the most people smiling in them.

TourPal’s smartphone app shows only the restaurants, bars, shops and tourist sites that have gotten the most Facebook likes, check-ins and Instagram photos, this way the users get recommendations only for the most buzzing places. TourPal’s upcoming version will also show which times are the busiest in each place to help users arrive at the right time and not come to an empty bar.

Due to the fact that every day that passes there is even more social data available it is reasonable to assume that these kind of apps are gradually going to replace the old user reviews platforms.