I just finished reading You’ve Been Yelped, a great article on Yelp.com put out by Inc Magazine writer Max Chafkin. Two weeks ago David Mihm outlined Yelp’s Coming of Age in a detailed post. If you’re into local Internet marketing at all, read them both.

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Max illustrated both the good and the bad for small business owners affected by the website.  The customer reviews posted on Yelp can make or break a small business and as the article details, it can drive an owner downright crazy.

As a business owner myself I see both sides of Yelp.com’s offering and effect on small business.  I think the collection of opinions of others experiences is great for the consumer to crowdsource to find great services or products, but I also question if the right filters can control the inmates running the asylum.

Running a small business is tough enough, you’ll never please everyone and now anyone can shout it out to the masses … permanently.  That said, an owner can learn a lot from customer insight and feedback.

Maybe the best thing to hope for is reviews being held to a responsibility code, where constructive criticism is allowed (and welcomed), but childish savaging or outlandish claims are left off.  I think we all know that some only look for ways to whine, rip or rant whenever possible.

So is Yelp the answer to running a better business?  Is it the answer to helping consumers?  I don’t have a clear answer on those 2 questions, but I do know that it’s not going away.

As one owner quoted in the story stated: “Ignoring Yelp gets you nothing. You can’t hate the future.”

My hope is that Yelp’s future brings a better balance to small business and consumer interaction.

One last time, it’s a great article so go and read it: You’ve Been Yelped – Inc.

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