As the world’s population continues to spend more time online, the amount of content they share online will also increase. Whether they share photos, music or even opinions, it is important to comprehend that sharing anything can have tremendous impacts–both positive and negative. There are many websites that allow you to cast your opinions or reviews on businesses and services. Yelp, which is one of the most popular review sites, depends on users to rank and grade their experiences at a variety of different businesses. If there are more negative reviews than positive, the business receives a lower Yelp score (or vice versa). Although the idea of business review sounds simple and fair, many critics of Yelp believe that it is operating in unethical ways. Some people even suggest that Yelp is biased–a claim that is contradictory to its entire mission.
Many concerned businesses have grown suspicious to Yelp and have even raised questions on the company’s integrity. They believe that Yelp is not operating in a liberal manner and is blatantly withholding positive reviews. This is troublesome to businesses because; according to Yelp, “4 out of 5 Yelp users visit the site when preparing to spend money.” This can affect business because if a user sees a company with a less than ideal score, chances are good they are going to bring their business elsewhere. Even if a business does have positive reviews submitted to Yelp, some claim that their reviews are deleted, never published or completely disregarded. According to Jim Handy, a contributor for Forbes.com: “I found yesterday that Yelp filters results according to certain arcane rules that are not even disclosed to the reviewers who donate their time and efforts to the website’s benefit. When a business patron writes a review it may or may not remain on the Yelp site according to these rules. There’s no real way of knowing what will stick and what won’t.”
With 100 million active Yelp users, it is easy to see why businesses are firing back at the review giant. Yelp’s reviews are impacting many businesses in a negative way so they are taking legal action. Just because Yelp has millions of users does not mean that it is the one and only authority for business review. Sites such as Facebook and Google also offer review options. And, unlike Yelp, reviews do not mysteriously disappear and sit unpublished, leaving the business frustrated and powerless.
Facebook and Google can be a great alternative for businesses to use for reviews, remarks and customer feedback. Users can rate their experience and leave comments while businesses can address problems/answer questions with due diligence and no “pending approval” lag time. For other guests, this offers a glimpse at just how well a brand handles these reviews, and for businesses, take note: replying to your reviews, both good and bad, is a perfect opportunity to showcase your commitment to serve your customers. After all, a bad review can give you the perspective you need to improve your business, all the while showing publicly that you are genuinely interested in the
So maybe it’s time for you to stop worrying about Yelp, and consider Facebook or Google for reviews. Customers and patrons have the opportunity to engage with businesses directly, as many smaller businesses monitor their own social media accounts, while other guests get to see the interaction for themselves. Isn’t this the level of transparency that really makes reviews have credibility and authenticity? We think so.