So, like TripAdvisor but not funded by advertising/links to the service providers (more user-centric). To avoid the empty market place problem I need to get a reasonable number of reviews fast - or have some other strategy for making the site useful. Besides a blog, any strategies spring to mind?
1) Define your story
I'm not sure who your audience is, but getting users to write reviews means that they need to resonate with your story. In order to do that, you need to convey what you've built, why it's important, why it's likely to work, etc. In other words, you across all your channels, you need to be telling the story about the value you are creating in such a way that it resonates with your target audience so that they take a desired action e.g. writing a review.
2) Attention and trust
The problem you have is that you don't have attention. Now it's not about being worthy or not, its about how you architect your communications so that your audience understands the worthiness and value of what you are doing - get this part right and everything will take care of itself. The other consideration is does your target audience know who you are? If not, then it's going to be a tough job and if they do know who you are, do they trust you and your story enough to engage with you? At the heart of every transaction is trust - if you don't have it, you need to get it
I think it goes without saying that you need to ask first - if you don't ask they just won't do it.
4) Incentivise it
Typically, users won't do anything unless there is something in it for them. Think about what incentives you can offer in exchange for reviews but remember that people are rarely motivated by money
5) Create an event around it
People love events and they're a great medium to convey your story and to build a community around your platform.
Happy to have a call with you to discuss further...
Only strategy that hits my mind right away is offline collateral.
Example, You need to print out a5 sticker asking for posting of reviews on your website by approaching the Aged Care Service Centers and ask them to paste the sticker at the entrance & exit.
I am offering free 15min calls. If interested to know more you can schedule a call with me.
I've done a little bit of market research for a client offering a related service in the same space.
One of the fastest ways to scale is to identify existing networks, build relationships with others who align with your mission, and ask them to ask their own contacts to submit reviews. Make the process as frictionless as possible for everyone asking for help.
Aged care services take many forms: live-in care with varying degrees of medical expertise, live-out care, aging in place, respite services, retirement lifestyle condos, nursing homes, independent living communities, and so on. Each type of service takes a different approach to elder care.
Each type also tends to have its own professional association or network. For example, the American Association of Retired Persons frequently hosts seminars across the USA to help retired people adjust to their new lifestyle, including ones on caregiver services. They might be willing to ask their members to help you get started.
Caregivers themselves can ask their clients to leave reviews on your website. The key here is speed and scale: state and provincial networks can be particularly useful here. For instance, the Ontario Personal Support Workers Association maintains a membership of PSWs who can ask their customers leave reviews on your website.
Finally, charities such as the Alzheimer's Society wants to help seniors find the right care for them by offering resources, education, and support. I imagine one of the purposes of your UGC reviews is to likewise help visitors make the right decision. The Alzheimer's Society might see strategic alignment and open up their network if you start cultivating that relationship.
Let me know if you'd like a call to discuss in greater detail. Hopefully this approach helps jump start your website.