I'm a big fan of word-of-mouth and even recommendation engines often produce relevant and valuable results. But no recommendation engine will beat this recommendation network – formerly known as microblogging tool – named Twitter.
Besides quite a few stories told by friends I happened to learn about the social recommendation power of Twitter myself: A day before the Easter holidays my espresso machine decided to pass away. She had a good life of roughly 15 years, visited hospital just three times and served us well. R.I.P.
After getting used to an espresso partner it is difficult to realign yourself. So what should I do? Screen hundreds of reviews on the net or ask some Italian barista for advice? None of the two: I submitted a tweet to my gentle followers, asking them for their advice regarding an espresso (not coffee!) machine for less than 600 Euros.
Half a day later I had eight answers, public replies and direct messages. Six of those came with links to and recommendations of individual machines. All of them matched my conditions (espresso/not coffee, less than 600 Euros). Additionally they (correctly) implied that the machine should a bargain; i.e. it should produce good espresso at a reasonable price tag. In their recommendations my followers even offered reasons for not recommending other machines, as "will not recommend my own xyz because it's error-prone".
Provided with these links I ran through the machine's descriptions and ordered one of those including an additional coffee mill the same night with amazon. It arrived 24 hours later and my wife and our friends are more than satisfied with the results which are not optimized yet.
Twitter as Social Recommendation Network: within 12 hours twitter provided me with my follower's recommendations, which
– came within hours
– matched my criteria
– provided additional information and
– best price links.
Far from being representative this individual experience should make us think about the recommendation power an application like twitter has. I will use this social recommendation network more often an will try to provide my expertise if needed. Let's see which applications and business models will follow…