This could be important for local businesses, because Google plans to use Hotpot for tying together local business reviews and social data, which should make online reviews even more powerful in determining the success of a company.
What Is Hotpot?
When you first sign up for Hotpot, you’ll see a screen like this:
Google displays a bunch of businesses near your location, encouraging you to start reviewing them. Businesses from a variety of categories are displayed, and Google notes that they may use information from your past searches when deciding which companies to display. At the end of the page, there is a message that “Hotpot tastes better with friends”, asking you to add friends – which will allow you to share recommendations, and compete to see who rates the most businesses.
All of the ratings and reviews from Hotpot are tied in with Google Places, displaying on some search results and on a company’s individual Google Places Page.
Why Does Hotpot Matter?
Reviews written by people you know are going to hold more weight than those written by strangers. As it gets easier to review businesses (Hotpot has a smartphone app – making reviewing a cinch), and more time passes, it will be increasingly likely that your friends have reviewed a given place. Facebook has had an advantage here, as they already have the social data indicating whose reviews you would likely trust. Hotpot is Google’s attempt to make reviews more valuable by adding this social component.
I’ve previously written about how to get your business reviewed online. Hotpot, and similar social review services will only make these reviews more important. If Hotpot manages to become popular, it will make reviews on Google particularly valuable. Imagine how easy a sale will be when someone searches for your type of business, and finds your listing along with a note that their friend had a great experience.
This is the future, and Hotpot is likely to be a part of it.