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Local community and recommendation site Angie’s List received $35 million in funding today from Battery Ventures. This comes a day after local rating site Grayboxx sold its assets after failing to get enough traction around its more automated local ratings (“preference scoring”).

Together these probably say something about the importance of personal touch in local niches that are based on community. It also in some ways symbolizes the ups and downs we’ve seen in the local social segment, where some companies make it and some don’t (Judy’s Book, Insider Pages, etc.).

Why this happens seems to involve a complicated formula, partly based on the whims of a crowd mentality in your target audience (as it goes in social media). Picking the right target audience has proved imperative, if you look at Yelp’s success — hinged on targeting the twenty- and thirty-something urban foodie hipster.

Part of the formula is also the right match of content for that audience that lends itself to viral exchange and community. The soccer mom demo has proved to be one that has these qualities for all things home & garden or child raising. Or, like Yelp, tap into a subject area and a demo where people like to hear themselves speak (who doesn’t want to be a restaurant reviewer?).

There is of course a lot more to it, but a great deal of the formula for success in this segment seems to be “learn as you go” with lots of hard work put in meanwhile. We’ll provide more later and find out where Angie’s List could go with the money.

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  1. There are two reviews of my company on Angies List.

    An “A” by someone who I worked for. And an “F” by someone who I never worked for, met or talked to.

    Personally, I think the latter is a bit awkward that they include stuff like that.

    Later, someone hired me, who read both those reviews. He said he had one more estimate from another company highly rated on Angie’s List. They told him during the estimate appointment, that it would take them 2 HOURS to do the pruning. When he asked me when I drove there and met him, I responded “Probably 2 DAYS”.

    The man had done the trees himself for years and was good at it. Took him two days. So aside from my approach to doing estimates, he knew the other highly rated company didn’t have any idea what they were doing technically. So I got the work. And he was pleased with the results.

    So there you go. That’s my experience with Angie’s List so far. Its loaded with good and bad. And user have to make their own decisions. As for me, I encourage folks to go to my testimonials page, where they find that the nature of references match up with what would be the “A” review on Angie’s List. In other words, folks who I have met or worked for in person.


    M. D. Vaden of Oregon

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