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.
No amount of advertising, tweeting or direct mailing can impact customers the way an objective peer review can. That’s because in the era of social media and online reviews, it’s not what you say about your business that matters; it’s what others say about you.
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.
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.
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.
‘Tis the season for social media. Seventeen percent of U.S. consumers plan to leverage social media sites to assist in their holiday shopping this year. The majority (60 percent) will do so to seek discounts and sales, according to Deloitte’s 24th annual Holiday Survey. More than half of social media users reported that they will also use these sites to research potential gift ideas (53 percent) and view their friends and family members’ wish lists (52 percent). Forty-six percent will research product reviews and 30 percent plan to share their own wish list. The study, which was conducted online by an independent research company, surveyed more than 10,000 individuals.
Retailers have a love-hate relationship with social media, according to a study set to be released next week. The E-tailing Group, which specializes in retail sector trends, surveyed 117 companies--from small to large--to assess how retailers and brands view the social Web. The biggest concern among respondents is that consumers will "trash their products in front of a large audience," according to E-tailing Group. At the same time, companies very much want to partake in the social Web. Ninety-three percent of companies surveyed said they are seeking greater customer engagement through social-media efforts. And 76 percent want to use social networks to "mobilize advocates through word of mouth."
Online shoppers trust the online reviews of strangers more than the recommendations of their friends, new research finds. "Conversations Among Consumers," a new report from online retail marketer Ripple6 and the e-tailing group, finds that shoppers buying products on the Internet are influenced both by online social networking sites and face-to-face conversations with friends. But when it comes to whose opinions influence the shoppers, strangers have as much if not more impact than friends.
What's still one of the most important consumer trends out there? Transparency. Of prices, of opinions, of standards. So let’s look at what’s new, happening, upcoming and important, including the inevitable countertrend. There’s no hiding ;-)
There's an interesting article over at The Baltimore Sun, suggesting that real-time reviews from movie-goers after seeing a new film have really got movie studios worried, thanks to the knock-on effect they can have on box office stats. But is it true?
Last fall, executives from Oriental Trading Co. read a product review from a woman planning her autumn wedding complaining that her order of fall leaves didn't look anything like the picture on the website. The execs went straight to the warehouse, pulled the product and compared for themselves. She was right -- it didn't look the same. The explanation: The company had recently switched vendors for that particular product, and the new vendor's version wasn't up to snuff. So the company pulled it.
The question many marketers are trying to answer now, is “Who do people trust?” I’ve been spending more and more time pouring over data, medium usage, behavioral and preference data for clients, and am learning more and more about how humans behave on the web. So who do people trust? Three research studies indicate it’s peers, or people they know. And social clout from bloggers, or those with a lot of online friends ain’t it.
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.