Facebook is lucky it missed buying Twitter and now should eat Yelp

Poster inside a Facebook office

Twitter is getting a TON of hype right now. Even today, on ABC radio, I heard about a meter for your plants that tells you they need water via Twitter. Here’s a “Tweet a Watt” do-it-yourself kit that lets you build a power meter that will work with Facebook and Twitter.

Sorry, got distracted there by the hype. Remember when Facebook tried to buy Twitter and failed?

That might have been the best possible thing that would happen to Facebook (and Twitter, actually). Let’s be honest, much of Twitter’s functionality is already built into Facebook, Zuckerberg and team just need to turn on a few new features (Steve Gillmor calls them “track”) and then everyone will get why Facebook will do just fine without Twitter.

But Twitter isn’t where the real money is. Where is that?

Getting businesses onto the social graph.

“Scoble, you’re smoking some of that funky weed again, aren’t you?”

No, hear me out.

Go back and look at the phone books that we all used to use before the Internet came about. In my house we used to get two books: one that was white, which had listings for people, and one that was yellow, which had listings for businesses.

Which one made AT&T tons of money? Hint: the Yellow Pages. I paid thousands of dollars a month to have our camera store advertisement in there. It generally paid off by bringing us tons of customers. After all, when you needed a camera store, or a dentist, plumber, lawyer, or a variety of other things, you’d look in the yellow pages and the one with the best looking ad got our business.

Now, let’s go back to Facebook. What’s the equivilent of the “best looking ad?” The business who has the best reviews. That’s a shift. A major one. Up to today Facebook has built the equivilent of the white pages: a site of people, but not of businesses. Soon Facebook will have tons of businesses on the social graph, but it needs to grab as much of that space as absolutely possible before others, like Twitter, get into the game.

Here’s why: if you have a bar, like my brother, how do you get a lot of Facebook’ers to come into your bar and “like” your bar?

Well, how about you advertise an offer to everyone in your local area? Hint: Facebook is NOT going to let you do that for free. How about you give all Facebook’ers the first beer for free? Think that would get a lot of Facebook users into my brother’s bar? You bet it would. Then, how do I get you to “like” my brother’s bar? Well, I’ll bribe you once again: I’ll give you a free basket of chips if you click “like” on my brother’s bar when you’re there.

“That’s bribery.”

Yeah, yeah, but this stuff goes on every day in business. You think those celebrities on TV that sponsor Nike are doing it for free? No. So why shouldn’t businesses try to pay for you to like them?

UPDATE: a few people have noted that Yelp’s TOS says you aren’t allowed to do this to get good reviews. OK, but you are allowed to ask people to review you, I’ve had that happen, and tons of restaurants around the world have Yelp stickers in the front window, which signal the same thing. And of course restaurant owners ask their friends to help give them good reviews. Heck, speeding is against the rules, but try doing 65 on FWY 280 and see how many people pass you.

Think this doesn’t matter?

Ask Christina Tan. She’s Milan (our son)’s new doctor. I took a picture of her and wrote about her here. How did Maryam (my wife) find Christina?

Yelp.

See, on Yelp, Christina is the top rated pediatrician in San Mateo.

“Scoble, you’re smoking that wacky weed again, Yelp is for rating restaurants.”

Not any more. Yelp is building a list of all sorts of businesses and letting its users rate them.

I asked Christina yesterday how many new patients she’s gotten thanks to Yelp. She said “several.” What’s funny is that Christina has never even been to Yelp (at least as of yesterday, she said she’s very interested in checking it out now).

So, right now, it’s easy to be accidentally “best” on Yelp right now. That won’t last. You think there won’t be a pediatrician who won’t try to figure out how to get the #1 spot away from Christina? I know there will be several. The stakes for new business are too high (restaurants are already seeing the impact of Yelp).

So, that brings us to Facebook. Yelp will help Facebook get to the real money: business recommendations.

I would not be shocked to hear soon that Facebook is in negotiations with Yelp. It makes too much sense to me. I hope Facebook eats Yelp.

What do you think?

146 thoughts on “Facebook is lucky it missed buying Twitter and now should eat Yelp

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  3. Excellent article. I think the integration with Yelp would be a great benefit to Facebook. The bad part of Yelp is that people can write bogus reviews…Facebook, by its very nature (friends, groups, etc) is the real person all the time. Connecting the FB account to the Yelp account will allow you to read and discuss reviews of your friends and create the social network that Yelp was trying to create when they started out.

    FB has the membership base and Yelp has the businesses and the geographic APIs…great synergy if done right.

    I also agree that FB buying Twitter would have been a mistake…Twitter is a great service, but I think it is cloneable, or people will eventually get the same bang from Twitter and a number of other similar services. And how will Twitter monetize their service?

    It should be an interesting future in the social networking world.

  4. Excellent article. I think the integration with Yelp would be a great benefit to Facebook. The bad part of Yelp is that people can write bogus reviews…Facebook, by its very nature (friends, groups, etc) is the real person all the time. Connecting the FB account to the Yelp account will allow you to read and discuss reviews of your friends and create the social network that Yelp was trying to create when they started out.

    FB has the membership base and Yelp has the businesses and the geographic APIs…great synergy if done right.

    I also agree that FB buying Twitter would have been a mistake…Twitter is a great service, but I think it is cloneable, or people will eventually get the same bang from Twitter and a number of other similar services. And how will Twitter monetize their service?

    It should be an interesting future in the social networking world.

  5. Facebook taught me a lesson… Because we feel so “comfortable” using it, talking to our friends and all, I made comments that I thought were innocent to a friend, forgetting that the other person I was making reference to, had their friend relay my comment to them! Yikes! Can’t be TOO comfortable on Facebook! Crime is increasing. Here’s a good place to find a wide selection of wireless video cameras and video security equipment. (Not to mention “covert” cameras…)

  6. Facebook taught me a lesson… Because we feel so “comfortable” using it, talking to our friends and all, I made comments that I thought were innocent to a friend, forgetting that the other person I was making reference to, had their friend relay my comment to them! Yikes! Can’t be TOO comfortable on Facebook! Crime is increasing. Here’s a good place to find a wide selection of wireless video cameras and video security equipment. (Not to mention “covert” cameras…)

  7. I’m still thinking the word “hint” doesn’t mean what you think it means. Might try looking it up, then using it properly. It would make your writing at least read with some vague hint of authority or insight.

  8. I’m still thinking the word “hint” doesn’t mean what you think it means. Might try looking it up, then using it properly. It would make your writing at least read with some vague hint of authority or insight.

  9. Here is the difference between Facebook and Twitter.

    Twitter is a mobile solution. You can Tweet all day long from your phone.

    You do not need a computer or especially email.

    Watch what your kids do, they are the future of how we will use the Internet.

    They don’t read email. They send text. They could not live without their phone.

    Twitter is an extension of their phone. I saw a table of 10 twenty somethings, 5 couples out to dinner the other night. They did not say one word to each other while waiting for their dinners. All ten of them had their phones out sending texts and did not interact at all with their dinner companions. NOT AT ALL for like 20 minutes on a Friday night.

    Facebook is browser based, you have to be at a computer, it is not a phone in your pocket that is an extension of yourself.

    Twitter is light, portable and above all TEXT based.

    We don’t get this because we are marketers, we want to send URLs in Twitter to get traffic to our sites. These kids just want to chat and above all flirt with the opposite sex.

    Facebook is last years technology, kids don’t even answer their phones, they don’t leave voicemails. They TEXT. That is how they communicate, fast and quietly.

    That is why Google Friend Connect is going to be such a success, everything you can do on your machine is mobile and has a phone based solution.

    Even if you use a mobile Facebook app you still need email to admin it and get alerts. Guess what these kids are using? Gmail!

    It is not us old people that will make Google Friend Connect a success, it is adoption by your kids that will make Facebook the MySpace of the next few years.

    If Google does not buy Twitter soon, I am going to be wrong majorly for the second time. It was me, Chris Lang that was one of the biggest “Google will buy Digg” poster boys there was.

    They came close, I would say Twitter is next. Or maybe not, I have been wrong once before. But just once. LOL

  10. Here is the difference between Facebook and Twitter.

    Twitter is a mobile solution. You can Tweet all day long from your phone.

    You do not need a computer or especially email.

    Watch what your kids do, they are the future of how we will use the Internet.

    They don’t read email. They send text. They could not live without their phone.

    Twitter is an extension of their phone. I saw a table of 10 twenty somethings, 5 couples out to dinner the other night. They did not say one word to each other while waiting for their dinners. All ten of them had their phones out sending texts and did not interact at all with their dinner companions. NOT AT ALL for like 20 minutes on a Friday night.

    Facebook is browser based, you have to be at a computer, it is not a phone in your pocket that is an extension of yourself.

    Twitter is light, portable and above all TEXT based.

    We don’t get this because we are marketers, we want to send URLs in Twitter to get traffic to our sites. These kids just want to chat and above all flirt with the opposite sex.

    Facebook is last years technology, kids don’t even answer their phones, they don’t leave voicemails. They TEXT. That is how they communicate, fast and quietly.

    That is why Google Friend Connect is going to be such a success, everything you can do on your machine is mobile and has a phone based solution.

    Even if you use a mobile Facebook app you still need email to admin it and get alerts. Guess what these kids are using? Gmail!

    It is not us old people that will make Google Friend Connect a success, it is adoption by your kids that will make Facebook the MySpace of the next few years.

    If Google does not buy Twitter soon, I am going to be wrong majorly for the second time. It was me, Chris Lang that was one of the biggest “Google will buy Digg” poster boys there was.

    They came close, I would say Twitter is next. Or maybe not, I have been wrong once before. But just once. LOL

  11. $500 mil in stock on a $15B market valuation? I don’t think they are going to be kicking themselves, they have a strangle hold on this space right now. Even with Facebook entering more aggressively, Twitter’s more open platform is a distinct advantage.

  12. $500 mil in stock on a $15B market valuation? I don’t think they are going to be kicking themselves, they have a strangle hold on this space right now. Even with Facebook entering more aggressively, Twitter’s more open platform is a distinct advantage.

  13. Twitter should have taken the $500 million it was offered while it had the chance. Who knows, in another 6 months Twitter could be passe, and something else (Yelp?) could take its place.

    I have a feeling the guys at Twitter are going to be kicking themselves for losing out on that deal. I’ll check out Yelp though, looks interesting.

  14. Twitter should have taken the $500 million it was offered while it had the chance. Who knows, in another 6 months Twitter could be passe, and something else (Yelp?) could take its place.

    I have a feeling the guys at Twitter are going to be kicking themselves for losing out on that deal. I’ll check out Yelp though, looks interesting.

  15. There is life after Yellow Pages! Michael I wish I knew how to contact you and all those in your situation.
    I am an ex Yellow Pages employee. I worked in this industry for over 20 years in many capacities. I now help businesses with their Yellow Page exit stratigies. There are ways to begin the transition from YP’s to other forms of advertising. The industry works on fear of loss. You know you have had success in the past, and they depend on that to keep you as long as possible. I have the ability to work with all publishers across the US. Please call me at 513-519-4275 EST.

  16. There is life after Yellow Pages! Michael I wish I knew how to contact you and all those in your situation.
    I am an ex Yellow Pages employee. I worked in this industry for over 20 years in many capacities. I now help businesses with their Yellow Page exit stratigies. There are ways to begin the transition from YP’s to other forms of advertising. The industry works on fear of loss. You know you have had success in the past, and they depend on that to keep you as long as possible. I have the ability to work with all publishers across the US. Please call me at 513-519-4275 EST.

  17. There is life after Yellow Pages! Michael, I wish I knew how to contact you and all those in your situation.
    I am an ex Yellow Pages employee. I worked in this industry for over 20 years in many capacities. I now help businesses with their Yellow Page exit stratigies. There are ways to begin the transition from YP’s to other forms of advertising. The industry works on fear of loss. You know you have had success in the past, and they depend on that to keep you as long as possible. I have the ability to work with all publishers across the US. Please call me at 513-519-4275 EST.

  18. There is life after Yellow Pages! Michael, I wish I knew how to contact you and all those in your situation.
    I am an ex Yellow Pages employee. I worked in this industry for over 20 years in many capacities. I now help businesses with their Yellow Page exit stratigies. There are ways to begin the transition from YP’s to other forms of advertising. The industry works on fear of loss. You know you have had success in the past, and they depend on that to keep you as long as possible. I have the ability to work with all publishers across the US. Please call me at 513-519-4275 EST.

  19. The integration of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with review services definitely makes sense and is happening.

    Who do you ask when you need trusted and reliable recommendations, say for a plumber or accountant? In many cases, you will ask your friends or people that you know at work or socially – i.e. you will ask the people on your social graph. This may even extend beyond “one-level” of the graph – e.g. your co-worker’s friend who knows an awesome gardener.

    We’ve developed a new service called Kelpp that builds on this idea and allows you to easily ask your Facebook friends for recommendations and tracks their responses. It also lets users define precisely the “things” they’re looking for or want to review – so you can find the best places for “inexpensive vegetarian lunch” or “family-friendly italian restaurant”.

    Try it out at http://kelpp.com – no need to register, just use your Facebook account. We would love to hear feedback – still at the “alpha” stage of development and we have lots more ideas and features planned.

  20. The integration of social networks (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) with review services definitely makes sense and is happening.

    Who do you ask when you need trusted and reliable recommendations, say for a plumber or accountant? In many cases, you will ask your friends or people that you know at work or socially – i.e. you will ask the people on your social graph. This may even extend beyond “one-level” of the graph – e.g. your co-worker’s friend who knows an awesome gardener.

    We’ve developed a new service called Kelpp that builds on this idea and allows you to easily ask your Facebook friends for recommendations and tracks their responses. It also lets users define precisely the “things” they’re looking for or want to review – so you can find the best places for “inexpensive vegetarian lunch” or “family-friendly italian restaurant”.

    Try it out at http://kelpp.com – no need to register, just use your Facebook account. We would love to hear feedback – still at the “alpha” stage of development and we have lots more ideas and features planned.

  21. I really enjoyed your post but I’ve never even heard of Yelp. After reading this I’ll be sure to check it out.

  22. I really enjoyed your post but I’ve never even heard of Yelp. After reading this I’ll be sure to check it out.

  23. I definitely see yelp as a possibility. Yelp is an awesome service that is in cities all over the place now.

    So yelp has all the business and facebook has all the customers. Almost seems to easy.

  24. I definitely see yelp as a possibility. Yelp is an awesome service that is in cities all over the place now.

    So yelp has all the business and facebook has all the customers. Almost seems to easy.

  25. Scoble,

    I am not much of a Facebooker, I use it as a lead funnel, not so much as a marketing medium.

    But is there or do you see soon a way of advertising decently? I really hate Facebook’s ad system. You can be chugging along fine and Facebook will come back and kill your ad for some TOS full of BS like “Your grammar was incorrect” and you are reminded of AdWords of days past.

    Worse yet advertise a product they hate like my site about Google Friend Connect. I gave up on that one.

    But even when you do get an ad to run long term, I do not see conversions that are worth a darn. My ads are the same ones that do well in AdWords now. I am not a copywriter, but I can get it right.

    Anybody got any suggestions?

  26. Scoble,

    I am not much of a Facebooker, I use it as a lead funnel, not so much as a marketing medium.

    But is there or do you see soon a way of advertising decently? I really hate Facebook’s ad system. You can be chugging along fine and Facebook will come back and kill your ad for some TOS full of BS like “Your grammar was incorrect” and you are reminded of AdWords of days past.

    Worse yet advertise a product they hate like my site about Google Friend Connect. I gave up on that one.

    But even when you do get an ad to run long term, I do not see conversions that are worth a darn. My ads are the same ones that do well in AdWords now. I am not a copywriter, but I can get it right.

    Anybody got any suggestions?

  27. Scoble good thoughts.

    I’ve been thinking for sometime now how Twitter is about authentic, personal interactions, which I simply do not see fitting into this new ‘Facebook-page-like’ model that’s being suggested.

    Comparing to the two phone books is an excellent analogy which hits the nail on the head. Lets go back to basic branding – clarity, niche, specifics. A monetized, business focussed twitter is mixing the wrong markets.

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