Who do you trust most when it comes to recommendations: an algorithm or your friends? Or perhaps a mixture of machine learning and your social graph. That’s something that a lot of startups are trying to figure out right now.
LoveThis.com, which launches out of Beta today, is firmly in the social camp with its ‘black book’ of your friends’ recommendations, from websites and apps, places to eat and go, or something more practical like a good plumber. That may sound like a very general list of recommendations but the site’s premise is that your friends not only know best but also vouch for products and services all of the time, just not necessarily when you actually need those recommendations. LoveThis attempts to solve this problem of recall by encouraging users to store this info as structured and searchable data for later use.
Notable also is the startup’s founder: Alexis Dormandy, former Virgin Group board member and a founding director of both Virgin Mobile and Virgin Active. He has since been Chief Marketing Officer at Orange and been Chairman, investor and advisor to a variety of European businesses.
Signing up to LoveThis is encouraged via Facebook and a user can also link their Twitter account. The latter is so that they can tweet their recommendations using the #lovethis hashtag to post them to LoveThis. That sounds cool in theory but since the service works best the more structured its data is, users have to actually login to LoveThis to edit any Twitter-originated recommendations to ensure they match the required format. Likewise, recommendations can be sent via SMS if a user has provided a mobile phone number. The need to edit later is a bit onerous but support for Twitter/text messaging keeps LoveThis feeling spontaneous, mobile and real-time. Three boxes ticked.
As well as entering recommendations into the site, users can search for recommendations on any topic via their social graph i.e. people they’ve friended (and therefore trust) on the service, which is the whole point. Interestingly, however, LoveThis also offers up ‘Experts’ as a separate tab in those results. These are super users picked out by the service who are screened based on their expertise. Anybody can apply to be an expert.
So, yeah, your friends know best, according to LoveThis but not always.
Based in London, UK, LoveThis has been in private Beta for two months and is privately funded.