If you are not familiar, Yelp is a social media platform featuring user-generated reviews for businesses and restaurants.
You can sign up for free and review the Empire State Building, your local Wal-Mart, that old roller skating rink in your hometown, your favorite bar, whatever you feel like.
Now, a fair number of business owners and published restaurant reviewers hate Yelp. Absolutely hate it. Do a Google search on “Why People Hate Yelp” and you will get a plethora of results. See here and here.
Restaurant and small business owners hate Yelp because anyone can write super-harmful negative reviews and destroy their businesses. Allegedly, good reviews hardly ever appear unless the owner pays for marketing on Yelp.
Published restaurant reviewers hate Yelp because it allows people unfamiliar with the restaurant business to post uninformed reviews. Yelp also threatens their very livelihood as well.
Now, I myself use Yelp.
I can tell you that Yelp users run the gamut from those with hometown local pride, seeking to spread the word about their favorite hole in the wall places, to name dropping’ high society, 30K millionaires looking to be impressed by the cuisine. It is just like Facebook.
There are users you avoid and those that have you rolling with laughter because they are describing how ratchet the parking lot looked like outside of their favorite Thai place.
Yelp rewards its most active reviewers, given the status “Elite”, perks such as invitations to free events in which food and drink samples are provided. “Elite” events are highly coveted in the Yelp community.
Yelp structures its user experience in such a way that rewards are given out to users that review businesses as often as possible. This generates free content for Yelp.
Note, users are urged to be as honest as possible and are not pressured to write completely positive or completely negative reviewers. Neither are they paid or compensated for their reviews.
Yelp works much like a video game. The more time spent playing, the more rewards accrue. Most Yelp users, are as good as their word. They try to be extremely honest and write accurately about their own personal experience.
Some however, do not. As with every social media site, there are users that are dishonest or over exaggerating.
Yelp was not created to hold back businesses. People do not use Yelp to have a business owner fail, lose their livelihood and be thrown out with their spouse and five children on the street.
Most people still don’t what the heck Yelp is. Most people still talk to their family, friends and co-workers about a bad experience at a restaurant.
Yelpers can detect when other reviewers are full of bull shit. Business owners can directly reply back to the reviews and contact unhappy parties, to either apologize or to bitch that reviewer personally.
There are two sides to every story.
Personally, I love the ability to write funny reviews and to bring notice my favorite local haunts. I love being part of the Dallas – Fort Worth community and Yelp facilitates with that.
What are your thoughts?
Do you use Yelp?