What’s More Important: Social Or Local?

The blogosphere has been abuzz in the last few weeks about the shake-up in local search sites.

  1. Major lay-offs and resignations at InsiderPages (via TechCrunch, Local Onliner, )
  2. Same at BackFence (via Greg Sterling, Local Onliner)
  3. Change of model at Judy’s book, moving away from merchant reviews (via Judy’s Book’s blog)
  4. Resignations at TrueLocal (via Local Onliner)

Consensus seems to be that Yelp is the one that’s running away from the pack in that start-up category (defined IMHO as Local Destination Sites start-ups).

I will note a couple of excellent comments amongst all the buzz:

  • Greg Sterling said: I told a reporter on Thursday that winning in local “is like climbing Mt. Everest.” We’re now seeing attrition (or something like it) in local because it’s much harder to monetize local consumer destinations with direct sales than people think when they start out. That’s not to say building a great consumer destination is easy, but in many respects that’s the easier part.”
  • Uri L. commented in Techcrunch: “In terms of community social reviews – Yelp had the most successful model, which put a focus on the community interactions (pictures, “i like” features), and build around it the local biz reviews. The site design reflected the warm and cozy attitude, and was to young people (who are probably the most contributing sector to ugc). Insider Pages took a more “directory” style, cloning traditional YP with the added value of community. (…) Judy’s Book is somewhere in between, focusing originally on parents and 30+ sector. (…) However, it seems that Yelp has managed to come with the best model for Karma – “You review, the community loves you back”. In none of the other sites you could really feel “loved” as in yelp. Maybe that’s a thing to remember…”

What it means: Two things:

  1. Local/Social sites should come up with an alternative business model that does not depend on having their own sales force and instead should try to partner with existing traditional local media companies.
  2. I believe the social aspect might be more important than the local aspect when dealing with a site that combines the two.

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