Social Recommendations And The Editorial Connection

The other day I overheard two kids on the bus discussing which movie to see. A guy and a girl, perhaps 18-19 years old. The girl was undecided and didn’t really have any specific ideas. The guy was gently pushing for Fast & Furious 5, without much success at first. “But it got a great review in Metro!” he said. “Really??”. “Yes, a four out of five!”. That seemed to settle the discussion, and – I presume – off to the movies they went.

So apart from illustrating the fact that kids actually read newspapers – on paper no less – and that they take the time to check out the reviews, what’s the point? The point is that a traditional, editorial review was translated into a social recommendation.

That’s how it tends to work when you think about it. When your discussions with friends and co-workers turn to movies, music or books, how often does someone refer to something they’ve read about, heard or seen through some media outlet? “It’s a great book, I read about it in …”, “Oh, you liked it? I saw the review and it seemed really good”, “My girlfriend got that for me, apparently it was on …’s list of unmissable DVD-releases”.

In short, while social recommendations can be based entirely on personal discovery and taste, very often they will channel opinions – filtered or unfiltered – expressed by a tastemaker (or expert if you will) in the media. Sometimes channeled through a single intermediary as in the anecdote above, sometimes by word-of-mouth passing from person to person many times over, radiating to a larger group.

From a Popyoular perspective, this is why we firmly believe in the commercial value of automatically connecting specific content with the relevant editorial reviews. And in the value of making sure your discovery- and conversion tools cover both the social angle and the editorial angle.

Let’s say you run a site that sells DVD’s. Or a VOD-service. In your catalog, you have a number of films that have gotten good reviews. To a bunch of your customers, that fact alone will help sway them to a postive decision for a given film. Now, would you rather hope that your customers have discovered that positive review, either directly or indirectly through friends? Or would you prefer to make positively sure they know about it, right there as a simple, automated feature of your service? And then in turn perhaps see them use your other, social features to tell their friends how they’ve seen a great movie, now perhaps adding that their opinion is shared by a specific, trustworthy source?

Oh, and what about Fast & Furious 5? Did it really get that great review? It sure did.