GoodGuide Rolls Out New Social Features

GoodGuide — the mobile app and website that helps people find products that measure up to their environmental and social values — quietly rolled out new, social networking and product recommendation features this month.

Groups of friends and colleagues can now follow each other via GoodGuide, share product reviews, and either warn to avoid, or encourage one another to try certain brands or items, there. The “social networking overlay” (as the company’s executives call it) adds the following features to the app and site:

    Realtime feed of what products people are scanning or looking up on their iPhones, now.

    Community voting, with an aggregate view of which products the GoodGuide community recommends or avoids.

    Social context that lets users see which products their Facebook friends recommend or avoid.

    Influence scores for GoodGuide users, taking into account their number of contributions and how many connections they have with others.

    A leaderboard of the GoodGuide members with the highest influence scores.

    Trending topics, covering ingredients, issues, and brands that are of interest to consumers based on site traffic and Good Guide’s science team.

The founder and chief sustainability officer of GoodGuide Dara O’Rourke explained most of the app’s users worry about health, environmental and social impacts, but everyone prioritizes differently.

Some worry more about fair labor and trade practices, like whether a company compensates their workers fairly all along their supply chain, while others worry more about how biodegradable a product or its packaging might be. In 2010, O’Rourke said, GoodGuide’s users increasingly turned to the app to avoid specific known toxic or disagreeable ingredients.

The company’s employees have formed their own group with the new social features, and begun sharing and discussing corporate social responsibility issues, and products’ impact and effectiveness (image above).

An earlier version of the app already allowed users to scan bar codes on items they own, and store lists of items corresponding to a room in the house (image below). They rack up automatic “scores” reflecting how their bathroom, or laundry room supplies rank given their stated values. With Good Guide’s new social features, users can compare bathroom to bathroom, pantry to pantry, etc.

O’Rourke believes social features can give a huge word-of-mouth boost to brands that are most appreciated by customers and are most honest (or transparent) about what they make and how. He also believes it can inspire people to be competitive, in a good-natured way, about living a healthy and sustainable lifestyle.

Social recommendations make brands more memorable than editorial mentions or ads, generally, recent research suggests. This fall, Nielsen Online published research that found 68 per cent of people were more likely to remember an advertisement, brand or company name if they saw one of their friends recommending it or associating themselves with it online.

GoodGuide reports its unique visitor count and engagement numbers increased by about 20% each from November to December 2010, thanks to the addition of the social features. Comparing December 2009 to December 2010, Good Guide saw 12% growth in unique visitors.