For those urban bons vivants who love discovering new good-time spots but find Yelp a little too impersonal, there’s a new app that puts a joyful human face on crowdsourced recommendations: Favecast. The app allows users to shout out their favorite haunts with short videos instead of written reviews.
“Who needs a boyfriend when you can have peanut butter pie?” one Favecaster says at Finale in Harvard Square, then turns the camera on her “picture-perfect” dessert and lovingly describes every ingredient, before concluding that “It’s going to be a good night!” The video only lasts about 20 seconds, but I’m sold.
“The key value that Favecast offers is authenticity,” says founder Artyom Shamtsyan. “You may know from Yelp that this is a high-rated, five-star restaurant,” but with Favecast, “you can actually experience what it’s like.”
Favecast also offers added specificity: Whereas Yelp is geared toward general appraisal, most Favecast videos showcase a specific item, e.g. a peanut butter pie. The newest version, which launched last Thursday, labels videos with the item in question. It also uses location services to auto-curate your Favecast feed with videos of places nearby.
Although Favecast has not yet begun to generate revenue, Shamtsyan says he eventually plans to charge local merchants for access to the backend, which will offer them insight into which of their menu items are delighting their customers the most. Merchants might even buy the rights to their best Favecast videos and edit them together into a sort of customer-testimonial highlight reel.
“Ads are usually not authentic,” Shamtsyan said. “People are usually hugely incentivized to produce something. But this is a new way: user-generated ads based on their realistic experience.”
Favecast is not the only local startup exploring this new, crowdsource approach to advertising: A few weeks ago I wrote about Scoopr, a new app that helps brands source photo content from their customers with incentives.
But Shamtsyan is adamant that Favecasters should not be incentivized. A business that has purchased access to the backend may choose to reward an especially passionate customer, he says, but that reward must be a “special surprise.” In order to preserve the authenticity that sets Favecast apart from its peers, users must record and post videos purely of their own volition.
Nick Cox is a freelance writer based in Somerville. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.