Paralysis can set in quickly when you’re faced with the infinitude of products and reviews on sprawling sites like Amazon or Yelp. To help you find your way, TripAdvisor has just begun showing reviews by Facebook friends of friends atop results. The site already featured tips from friends, but with 60 million reviews on the site, surfacing content from friends of friends (FoF) means you’re 10x more likely to get help from someone you’re connected to.
TripAdvisor pulled in a staggering $650 million in revenue with a 30% profit margin last year. Spotlighting FoF reviews could lead to less exhausted bounces and more commissions on sales. Other big content sites should look to get friend of friendly too.
Facebook and TripAdvisor have been on a long journey together. Five years ago TripAdvisor launched the viral hit profile app Cities I’ve Visited. It added the useful but controversial Instant Personalization to automatically feature content from friends without the need to authenticate. Most recently it hooked Cities I’ve Visited into the Open Graph to auto-publish where you’ve been. TripAdvisor knows the value of socially relevant content as well as anyone.
Fifteen-million of its reviews of hotels, restaurants, and sights were published by Facebook connected users, allowing them to show up in the FoF highlights. When you search within TripAdvisor, you’ll first see places reviewed by friends, then FoF, and then all the others sorted by popularity. Drill into a destination and you’ll see reviews by friends, then FoF up top. You won’t necessarily see the real name of the FoF, just that “Eric Eldon and Kim-Mai Cutler are friends with the reviewer” and their username. If you don’t want your own reviews featured to 1st- or 2nd-degree connections, you can opt out in your privacy settings.
Regarding its vast sea of reviews and content-heavy pages (see above), TripAdvisor’s VP of Global Product Adam Medros tells me, “It can be overwhelming, we hear that from users all the time. Some people love the immersive travel advice experience and want to dig in, but others just want to know what’s the travel experience that’s best for me.”
Review and e-commerce sites are just going to keep piling up reviews. No amount of browsing and search options can make sense of it all. But FoF content is more attractive and trusted. By mirroring “Oh hey, my friend told me about this awesome hotel in Bangkok. You should stay there”, TripAdvisor and other sites can lead us where we want to go.