Don’t under estimate the power of social media. I find I use Yelp often especially when traveling. As a business owner it is worth your time an effort to learn about these sites and use them to your advantage. I get asked about #10 on this list all the time, avoid the “The Streisand Effect.” Here is a great list from Todd Wasserman of 10 things you may not have known about YELP.
Next to Google, there’s probably no more important site for small businesses than Yelp. Yet perhaps no other site is as poorly understood. For instance, is it a good idea to encourage your customers to give you good reviews on the site? Does Yelp pay for reviews? How do you go about countering bad reviews?
Since Yelp is such a juggernaut, it’s important to get the facts straight. With that in mind, take a look at these 10 things you may not have known about the service.
1. Most of Its Traffic Is From Its Home Page
You might think that in 2012, most people would be accessing Yelp from their smartphones, but that’s not the case. Sixty percent of searches are from desktops, and the company’s mobile apps are used by about 7 million people. Yelp.com gets 78 million visitors per month. However, like other social media companies, the trend is definitely favoring mobile.
2. Restaurants Aren’t the Biggest Category
Yelp’s biggest category is actually shopping. Shopping reached parity with restaurants in September 2011, but has since surpassed that, says Darnell Holloway, Yelp’s manager of local business outreach. Though Holloway says that perception still lingers; he believes that restaurants have a natural advantage because they get so many customers compared to, say, a dentist. Says Holloway: “If I’m a diner, I’m probably going to see more people coming through the door.”
3. Encouraging Customers to Post Reviews is a Bad Idea
It might seem like closing a sale with “And don’t forget to tell people about your experience on Yelp!” is smart marketing, but Yelp discourages this practice and other forms of review coercion. “We recommend that people focus on awareness rather than asking for reviews,” says Holloway, “because then it becomes an arms race.” But wait, should Yelp want more reviews? After all, more reviews equals more traffic and, in theory, better reviews if you believe in the wisdom of crowds, right? Not according to Yelp. The company believes in quality over quantity. Moreover, “We don’t believe that consumers necessarily want to be seen as a promotional vehicle.”
4. Those ‘People Love Us on Yelp’ Stickers? You’ve Gotta Earn Them
The Yelp sticker pictured above is a genuine accolade designed to be akin to a high Zagat rating. That means that you can’t order a “People Love Us on Yelp” decal for love or money. Instead, the company doles them out twice a year to companies that get overall high ratings.
5. Yelp Provides Free Signage Via Flickr
Though Yelp discourages merchants from bugging customers to write reviews, it is a proponent of more subtle means of persuasion. For instance, the company provides downloadable signage via a Flickr stream. Holloway also recommends putting a Yelp link in your email signature and on your business card.
6. Yelp Has Paid For Reviews in the Past
Though Yelp strives to maintain the purity of its reviews, the company has in the past paid people to write them. CEO Jeremy Stoppelman told The New York Times in 2007 that “there was a time in our earlier days where we experimented with paying for reviews directly in cities outside of San Francisco to help get the ball rolling in our otherwise empty site.” However, the company has not done this for at least four years.
6. Customer Service Appears to Have the Strongest Effect on Reviews
Yelp’s research has found that a customer whose review praises “customer service” is more than five times as likely to give a 5-star review than a 1-star review. Similarly, nearly 70% of those who trash a business’ customer service wind up giving a 1-star review. In a May blog entry on the topic, Yelp featured a word cloud of terms that popped up in positive reviews:
Obviously, it seems to pay to be friendly, nice and helpful.
7. Every Star in a Review Leads to a 5-9% Jump in Revenues
A study by Michael Luca, a professor at Harvard Business School, found that there was a correlation between a high Yelp ranking and revenues. Luca just looked at the restaurant industry in Seattle, but his findings were a ringing endorsement for Yelp. Among other things, it found there were far more Yelp restaurant reviews than there were from Zagat or The Seattle Times.
8. Yelp Tends to Favor Independent Businesses Over Chains
If you’re a McDonald’s franchisee, don’t waste any time worrying about your Yelp reviews. According to Luca’s study, Yelp’s effect on chains is “statistically insignificant and close to zero.” Luca also found that when Yelp penetrates a market, “there is a shift in revenue toward independent restaurants.” This is not by design, but based on the fact that reviewing a McDonald’s in St. Louis is a rather absurd exercise since it will likely be very similar to a McDonald’s in Kalamazoo, Mich., or Newark, N.J.
9. Business Owners Can Dispute Reviews on Yelp
If someone trashes your business on Yelp, you don’t have to sit back and take it. In fact, Holloway recommends business owners go on Yelp and dispute. The reviewers can then answer the business owner if need be.
10. Legal Threats for Bad Reviews Can Trigger ‘The Streisand Effect’
Yelp reviews operate in a grey area between journalism and customer service. If you’re a business owner and see a scathing review that is completely incorrect, you may consider it akin to slander and be tempted to call your lawyer. However, Yelp cautions against this. In an FAQ on its site, Yelp evokes “The Streisand Effect,” in which an action has the unintended consequence of drawing more attention to the problem. (The term got its name from Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress photos of her home backfired.) As Yelp counsels:
“Far from being cowed, recipients will sometimes go public with them as a warning to others not to patronize your business. Second, beware of lawyers who are quick to file lawsuits without telling their clients that it can cost them dearly. Last, take a step back: if you find yourself insisting that a review is obviously untrue, there’s every reason to think that your customers will draw the same conclusion as you. Even if they don’t, Yelp’s review filter is always on the prowl, and it may be able to put enough pieces of the puzzle together over the long-term to filter out the bogus review.”
How Target Figured Out A Teen Girl Was Pregnant Before Her Father Did!
Every time you go shopping, you share intimate details about your consumption patterns with retailers. And many of those retailers are studying those details to figure out what you like, what you need, and which coupons are most likely to make you happy. Target, for example, has figured out how to data-mine its way into your womb, to figure out whether you have a baby on the way long before you need to start buying diapers.
Charles Duhigg outlines in the New York Times how Target tries to hook parents-to-be at that crucial moment before they turn into rampant — and loyal — buyers of all things pastel, plastic, and miniature. He talked to Target statistician Andrew Pole — before Target freaked out and cut off all communications — about the clues to a customer’s impending bundle of joy. Target assigns every customer a Guest ID number, tied to their credit card, name, or email address that becomes a bucket that stores a history of everything they’ve bought and any demographic information Target has collected from them or bought from other sources. Using that, Pole looked at historical buying data for all the ladies who had signed up for Target baby registries in the past:
This one is worth sharing as most of us will be scrambling this weekend to finish up..
Christmas 2011 — Birth of a New Tradition..shop local:)
As the holidays approach, the giant Asian factories are kicking into high
gear to provide Americans with monstrous piles of cheaply produced goods –
merchandise that few of us need, and does nothing to foster our local community.
This year will be different. This year Americans will give the gift of
genuine concern for other Americans. There is no longer an excuse
that, at gift giving time, nothing can be found that is produced by American
hands. Oh…. Yes there is! It is time to think outside the box, people.
Who says a gift needs to fit in a box? Wrapped in Chinese wrapping paper?
Everyone — yes EVERYONE gets their hair cut. How about gift certificates
from your local hair salon or barber?
Who wouldn’t appreciate getting their car detailed? Small, independently owned
detail shops and car washes would love to sell you a gift certificate or a
book of gift certificates.
Are you one of those extravagant givers who think nothing of plunking down
the Benjamins on a flat-screen TV? Perhaps that grateful gift
receiver would like his driveway sealed, or lawn mowed for the summer, or
driveway plowed all winter, or games at the local golf course.
There are a gazillion owner-run restaurants & caterers — all offering gift
And, if your intended isn’t the fancy eatery sort, what about a half dozen
breakfasts at the local breakfast joint.
Remember, folks this isn’t about big national chains — this is about
supporting your home town neighborhood businesses with their financial lives on the line
to keep their doors open.
How many people couldn’t use an oil change for their car, truck or
motorcycle, done at a shop run by the local working guy?
Thinking about a heartfelt gift for mom? Mom would LOVE the services of a
local cleaning lady for a day.
My computer could use a tune-up, and I KNOW I can find some young guy who is
struggling to get his repair business up and running.
OK, you were looking for something more personal. Local crafts people spin
their own wool and knit them into scarves. They make jewelry, and pottery
and beautiful wooden boxes.
Plan your holiday outings at local, owner operated restaurants and leave
your server a nice tip.
And, how about going out to see a play or ballet at your hometown theatre.
Musicians need love too, so find a venue showcasing local bands.
Honestly people, do you REALLY need to buy another ten thousand Chinese
lights for the house? When you buy a five dollar string of lights, about fifty
cents stays in the community.
If you have those kinds of bucks to burn, leave the mailman, trash guy or
babysitter a nice BIG tip.
You see, Christmas is no longer about draining our economy so that the 1%
shareholders in national chain big box stores can improve things for themselves.
Christmas is now about caring about US
(We the People), encouraging our hometown small businesses to keep plugging away to
follow their dreams. And, when we care about other Americans, we care about
our communities, and the benefits come back to us in ways we could not
THIS is the new American Christmas tradition!!
This is a revolution of caring about each other, and isn’t that what
Christmas is about?