Ever wondered why some consumer review sites thrive while others seem like dusty repositories of stale content? Quality consumer reviews are among the most coveted content online—when you can get them to flow they build a search-engine friendly kingdom of page views. Sustain them, and your advertising inventory swells with content-specific pages. The problem, of course, is convincing users to freely contribute their time and energy.
Just when you're getting used to Foursquare and Gowalla and Yelp and Facebook Places, there are new apps to check out. Since checking-in has gone mainstream, there are a few notable new experiences that are worth a look.
One of New York's hottest startups, Foursquare, is under heavy fire from more established Silicon Valley players. A source briefed on the matter tells us Facebook is working on a feature that will allow users who access the network from mobile devices to "check-in" and broadcast their current location to all their friends. Huge local business reviews site Yelp rolled out a similar "check-in" feature earlier this month.
Social Media marketing is not new nor is it widely established or even understood. However in 2010, it will completely transform the way businesses attract customers and the way consumers find the businesses and services that matter to them. And like that, an overnight landmark, which really is over a decade in the making, will challenge business owners, more so than today, as they now compete for the future, right now. Social Networks are no longer the playgrounds we once perceived. The simple truth is this; social networking is not for just for kids or people with too much free time on their hands.
When Google upgraded their Local Business Center to Google Places, it launched the opening salvo in what we expect to be a long war for local advertising dollars. With local advertising revenues expected to reach $144.9 billion in 2014 according to BIA/Kelsey — and more and more dollars are shifting away from traditional media toward digital media buys — the new war for local ad spend will be a battle between the Internet (Internet) titans and social networks. Facebook, Twitter, Google, Microsoft, Foursquare, Yelp and even Apple are all attempting to carve out their own niche offering for local advertising dollars. Who will succeed remains to be seen, but this is a fight you won’t want to miss.
Yelp has found a work-around for those wicked extortion rumors (and that pesky lawsuit). In a blog post with the no-nonsense headline "We're Increasing Transparency and Eliminating 'Favorite Review'," Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman explains its plans. The "transparency" part is met by allowing users to see reviews that would otherwise have been obscured by the review filtering system. Whereas the Favorite Review part sees this entire segment of the advertising package deleted from Yelp.
Some of the most exciting new ideas in organizations are based on harnessing the collective intelligence of crowds and communities. Think of user-generated content platforms, open source software, crowdsourcing, and knowledge markets — just a few examples of ways that large numbers of loosely networked users are invited to create or evaluate products, content or ideas. This is the “social web,” the interlinked virtual universe that to so many executives seems to offer the irresistible promise of providing something — ideas, work, decisions — for (almost) nothing, if only they could manage it right.
It didn't take long for Julie Liu -- late 20s, smartphone-addicted, constant Googler -- to get hooked on the online review site Yelp. Where to eat Friday night? Read some reviews by random anonymous diners. Oh, that looks good. Book a table online, show up, eat. But after Liu and her sister opened Scion restaurant in Dupont Circle, they saw Yelp from a different angle. Liu said Yelp's salespeople phoned repeatedly, telling her that if she advertised on the site, negative reviews would move lower on Scion's page and positive reviews would move up.
Next week a startup is launching that’s effectively Yelp for people (look for our coverage in a few days). If someone has something good or bad to say about you, they’ll be able to do it anonymously and with very little potential legal or social fallout. We’ve seen services like this in the past. Rapleaf and iKarma come to mind. But they were flawed – Rapleaf now collects and sells data about people, and iKarma seems to be little more than a realtor focused service. Another service, Gorb, has vanished completely. But something tells me this new service, or some other one, might succeed where the others have failed.
Mobile services like Loopt and Google’s Latitude have promoted the notion of constantly beaming your location to a map that is visible to a network of friends — an idea that is not for everybody. But now there is a different approach, one that is being popularized by Foursquare. After firing up the Foursquare application on their phones, users see a list of nearby bars, restaurants and other places, select their location and “check in,” sending an alert to friends using the service.
Yesterday brought the news that Google has officially purchased Aardvark, a small San-Francisco-based social search startup that happens to have been created by former Google employees. The timing, coming just two days after Google unveiled Buzz, can't be coincidental--but what can Aardvark do for Google? An awful lot, as it turns out.
There’s been a fair amount of coverage recently about the ins and outs, good and evil, usefulness and rudeness of customer rating and reviews sites. No matter how you feel about these social recommendation sites, if you own a small business of any kind, it’s time to get serious about figuring out and playing the game.
A little over a year ago, on Dec. 1, 2008, I made this prediction in my column: "Google will buy Yelp" -- the social-networking-esque site that provides user-written reviews of businesses in cities across the U.S. and Canada. It took a while, but Google finally tried to make good on my prediction last month -- but, of course, failed (at least initially). Yelp reportedly balked at being bought. Then Miguel Helft of The New York Times Bits blog reported that his source was saying that Google walked away from the acquisition talks, because it "didn't want to let the negotiations be driven by leaks to the press." In other words, Google was pissed at Yelp for driving a hard bargain.
Jeremy Stoppleman, the CEO of Yelp, has walked away from an all-but-signed deal to be acquired by Google for more than half a billion dollars. The deal was, as we wrote late last week, in the later stages of negotiation. The two companies had agreed on a price – around $550 million plus earnouts – and were working through the final details of the acquisition. Then something happened that made Yelp reconsider the deal. Over the weekend they notified Google that they were not going to sell, say multiple sources.
According to sources close to the situation, along with its pending bid for Yelp, Google has been in on-again, off-again acquisition talks with Trulia, the real-estate search engine. It is unclear what price Google would pay, but sources estimate that Trulia's valuation ranges between $150 million and $200 million, although there could be a big premium on that.
In a sign that Google is interested in broadening its reach among local businesses, the search giant is in acquisition talks with Yelp, the review site for local businesses, according to three people with knowledge of the deal. The two companies have had conversations for several years, but a more serious round of acquisition talks began two months ago, one of the people said late Thursday. The companies have discussed a price and are negotiating the details, but have not yet signed an agreement.
You wouldn't immediately suspect that Yelp's iPhone app might be a gift bestowed upon us by a benevolent superhero from the future. Load it up and the program's in its Clark Kent garb -- a useful-enough guide to local restaurants, bars, and merchants. Then you notice a button labeled monocle in the right-hand corner. Hit it and the screen displays a live feed from the phone's camera, showing exactly what's in front of you -- with one big difference. Aim the camera at a local storefront and Yelp superimposes a star rating on the image. Use Monocle in a hot neighborhood, for instance, and point it at every restaurant for a quick appraisal of the best food in the area. Yelp's app is one of the first "augmented reality," or AR, programs to debut on the iPhone, and though it can be handy, it's most useful as a sign of what's to come.
Social Networks are among the most powerful examples of socialized media. They create a dynamic ecosystem that incubates and nurtures relationships between people and the content they create and share. As these communities permeate and reshape our lifestyle and how we communicate with one another, we’re involuntarily forcing advertisers and marketers to rapidly evolve how they vie for our attention.
IN sailors’ parlance, it’s called local knowledge — the invaluable and detailed insights into a location’s prevailing winds, hidden shoals and tricky tides and currents, accumulated through firsthand experience. Without it, visiting mariners can find themselves in peril. Business travelers, whether they are government workers, small-business owners, entrepreneurs or professionals, need to tap into specific and timely intelligence as well. They are increasingly doing so through social networks like Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Yelp, using the expertise and wisdom of the residents of places they visit to help them find their way around.
Yelp is a grassroots-driven business review website that has exploded in popularity in the last few years. That popularity has come with a fair share of troubles, from a lawsuit against a reviewer to shrill cries of extortion by businesses. In fact, Yelp has established a Myths page to dispel some of these misconceptions. However, the truth remains that Yelp is a very powerful guide for tourists and locals alike to find great restaurants and business wherever they might be. And soon, businesses might be able to have a public voice on the site for the first time.
User-generated content: It's more like good old, tried-and-true broadcast branding than you think -- if done right.
A California court has ruled that dentist Yvonne Wong can continue to pursue a lawsuit against a husband and wife who allegedly panned her on the review site Yelp.
Embrace it. Because it’s a part of you. Your story. Your history. Enter Pizzeria Delfina in San Francisco. They, like just about all restaurants, get reviewed on Yelp. And, like just about all restaurants, they get some weird, negative reviews peppered in with the good ones. But what did Delfina do instead of trying to ignore them? They took the quotes from some of the one-star reviews and printed them on t-shirts for their employees to wear.
Beware of dogs. That's the threat (to business owners) and the promise (to consumers) as reviews and ratings proliferate online, spreading from sites like Amazon and eBay to Target and Office Depot.
We all know how tagging makes the Web a richer place (by tapping into people’s desire to categorize things and share those categories, ad-hoc though they may be, with the everyone else). Now it is time to start tagging the world. The real world.