Why I stopped Googling Places to Eat

We’ve all been there...

Your friends have finally decided on a night that works for everyone to go out to eat. As the date draws closer, no one has made a decision where to go, and you, wanting to take the opportunity to try something new, Google “best places to eat”.

Commence immediate bombardment of the retinas. An army of food industry marketing teams have anticipated this search eagerly and have used every trick in the book to make sure they turn up in your results. As for you, it’s hard to know where to start — do you want the top ten, top twenty or top fifty best restaurants to choose from? And isn’t it weir

d that the results are basically the same as when you Googled this query on the other side of the country last week? And on your European vacation from three months ago? The usual suspects pop no matter where you are in the world. Undoubtedly, you’ll have your Timeout, your TripAdvisor, and your Yelp all promising to bring you the best experience.

The problem is that these websites don’t actually reveal the best restaurants. You get featured on Timeout by paying for it. And as for Yelp and TripAdvisor, that’s just a race to drown out the tidal wave of fake bad reviews with fake good ones. An entire industry has evolved around this — exchanging good or bad reviews for money.

What if you want to discover a cool new place to eat organically? What if you don’t want be funnelled toward those that won the auction for a tiny space on your screen? Maybe you want to find a great independent place run by an Italian nonna that couldn’t afford to get into the fake review trade or to be featured, or just didn’t care to play the game.

I’ve figured out that the best strategy is going hyper local and going directly to the source itself. This way you’re guaranteed to 1) support your local community 2) not be pushed to spend your money somewhere because of a clever advertising campaign and 3) you’ll discover amazing hidden gems!

How do you find them? One way is to explore Google Maps in your nieghborhood. But this isn’t ideal. Even in Google Maps results, business are ranked based on factors such as their ratings and how many photographs they’ve put up. Can you imagine a small family run joint having the time for that?

The best approach is to get your intel directly from the source. But how can you do this without having a a hundred tabs open? The good news is that every business has a social media profile these days. This is the best way to hear about updates, deals, menu changes and really cool events happening there.

Tools like Tweetdeck and Hootsuite allow you to consolidate information directly from the social media profiles of businesses you’re interested in into a neat dashboard format. However, you will spend a lot of time collecting your data before you’re ready to use those tools. A similar concept, but one that promises to do all the heavy lifting for you, is Socialwise. The most awesome part is that Socialwise offers a whole suite of local happenings directly from the source — no promoted content and no fake reviews. It’s not even just limited to restaurants but you also get shopping or events like concerts. Starting with Atlanta but expanding to other cities soon, this truly will be a game changer in being a lot wiser about your social life.

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