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.
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.