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Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Truth About Yelp (It Sucks!)

One of the most difficult aspects of running any type of business is the multi-tasking and constantly having to decide what takes priority.   The modern day version of running a business includes managing your online image.  ???  That means keeping all your online reviews and postings accurate and honest.

So in the midst of our two month rise to new records, we noticed our "friends" over at Yelp weren't being so friendly.   We had so many guests tell us they enjoyed their experience and would be leaving 4 and 5 star reviews on the site, known for providing reviews and ratings for just about any type of business. In our routine check one day, we noticed we had gone from 5 stars one day to 1 the next.


A little more investigation revealed that all these wonderful reviews our customers had kindly taken the time to write were not there.  Scrolling down to some tiny print, we found the line "other reviews we do not recommend."   Nearly every single review that was about 2 stars had been moved to this obscure page, leaving us with a home page of 1 and 2 star reviews, including some from people, we don't believe were ever in our restaurant.

It was obvious we needed to do our homework on Yelp.  Well, they aren't exactly an ethical company - understatement.  What we found was that they are on the receiving end of multiple lawsuits for businesses who have been run into the ground as a result of Yelp "screening" positive reviews when they turned down Yelp's "offer" for paid advertising.

Translation:  if you don't pony up $$$ every month to Yelp, you run a high risk of them taking your stars and positive reviews away.

So what to do?   We're not exactly in the position to file a suit against Yelp, although we'd certainly love to.  We went back to the social media expert we'd hired for another business and she suggested the strategy of approaching this with humor, citing another business who had been Yelp-ized and put an A-frame sign in front of their business reading "Come In For Yelp's Most Bland Food."

Humor helps, although some people don't understand subtle humor and sarcasm.  Clearly.

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