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Media Matters: Podcasting, Vidcasting and other Online Media Tools, Tips and Trends » Blog Archive » The Yelp! Conundrum

The Yelp! Conundrum

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A San Francisco restauranteur thought he was pretty web-savvy, inviting 50 of the most prominent Yelp! reviewers to eat at his new digs — for free — before they opened. The crowd came, with friends, and ate well on the house. The next day, the reviews were pretty good. But the restauranteur was surprised to find that the reviews had absolutely no effect on his business. Inversely, one hears all the time about restaurants that get slammed on Yelp but do just fine.

The moral is that consumers online are more discerning than we give them credit for. Sure, some people will look at the most recent review and get immediately turned off by someone’s complaint that the waiter was rude, or the food was cold. But most people know that other people have their own weird obsessions, and habits, and failings, and you really can’t trust just one person’s review. The average person who uses a Yelp or Citysearch quickly assesses the aggregate of the reviews and makes their decision based on the balance.

The worst thing you can do is have your friends go online (or heaven forbid, do it yourself under a fake name) and write fake positive reviews. People can smell a fake review a mile away. But contrary to the commonly-held belief, we don’t think it’s wrong to respond to your critics in the comments — as long as you respond formally and professionally, fully own up to being the business representative, and only correct inaccurate information.

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