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Joojoo wants to free us from the tyranny of the 5-star review

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Most businesses pay for visibility on platforms like Google, Yelp or Angie’s List. Joojoo offers a better way.

St. Louis-based Joojoo is a new web platform and mobile application dedicated to helping people share recommendations within their personal networks.

“We’re kind of like the Pinterest for places,” said Brent Cowin, founder of Joojoo. “It’s a social network where you can share your favorite places, add photos and write recommendations.”

Cowin explained how Joojoo is different than current business recommendation apps.

“Existing recommendation platforms rank businesses that pay for ads higher than ones that don’t pay,” said Cowin. “On our platform businesses are ranked based on the people you follow. We don’t accept any paid placement.”

How Joojoo works

Joojoo’s platform is free for consumers and businesses to use. Upon signing up, Joojoo create syour network based on your Facebook friends. Users can also manually follow others, such as popular influencers or celebrities.

Cowin explained that with current business recommendation platforms, users can get lost in the unfamiliar and large crowds using the platform. Joojoo makes the recommendation process more personalized by having users connect to people they know and who have similar tastes as themselves.

“We narrow your crowd to people that you trust,” said Cowin. “We’ve really focused on relevancy. Recommendations are much more useful and interesting when they’re from people you know.”

When you make a recommendation on Joojoo the user has a few options. For example, if a friend in your network writes a recommendation you agree with, you can second their recommendation, which then shares it with your followers. And if you see a recommendation that you want to try, you can save it to your bucket list for later. Your bucket list is visible to your followers and the businesses also get to see which people have expressed interest in trying them out.

Joojoo as a marketing platform

Joojoo is also a marketing tool for businesses.

“Joojoo is free word of mouth, which has been found to be the best form of advertising,” said Cowin. “A recommendation from a friend is more persuasive than any other type of ad.”

Cowin explained that there are other ways that Joojoo can help businesses with their marketing efforts beyond just word of mouth.

“For example, in the future we can allow businesses to make an offering to the users who have already expressed interest in checking out that business,” said Cowin. “But we have a trusted culture to uphold, so it would have to be creative and of high-value if and when we allow businesses to boost this organic promotion.”

Leveraging word of mouth marketing

As a team, Joojoo has come across many “aha” moments while searching for the right formula.

“We dove deep to understand word of mouth and how fast it can circulate when the conditions are right,” said Cowin, explaining the foundation behind Joojoo. “Could it be reproduced in a way that’s even more organized and convenient? That’s why we built Joojoo.”

Cowin said that Joojoo is also solving a relevance issue that the big players aren’t addressing.

“It’s not just about getting honest recommendations,” said Cowin. “It’s about getting honest recommendations from people that are more like you.”

Recommendations vs. reviews

With Joojoo, there is no 5-star rating system, just recommendations.

“Our focus is on the positive and on what’s good,” said Cowin. “You want to know where to go, not where not to. And why waste time making or reading a 3-star review?”

While it might be common to think that businesses care about those two or three star reviews to see what they can correct, Cowin said that after completing their research they found that businesses prefer to focus on what makes people recommend their services to their friends.

“Businesses don’t like the five-star review system because there is not a lot of consistent context surrounding the rating,” said Cowin.

Cowin said that it all comes down to a business providing an experience or service that is worth sharing with friends.

“Everybody wins that way,” said Cowin. “If you want to be critical of business, Joojoo is not the place for it. We just want to map the best places based on who you know and trust.”

What’s next

Currently the Joojoo team is focused on building their user growth.

“It’s really about leveraging the crowd,” said Cowin. “Just like Uber or Airbnb, they’re leveraging the users, not cars or real estate. Joojoo is a marketing platform, but we don’t produce any marketing materials internally. We leverage the crowd to produce word of mouth.”

Cowin added that there are options for the participating businesses to interact with and utilize the recommendations from fans on the app.

Joojoo is currently available in the app store under Joojoo Social Local.


Mel Lucks is a regional freelance journalist and former intern for Silicon Prairie News and AIM.

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