The established fact is that online review sites rarely cover both sides of a story. It basically only hosts the sentiments of customers regarding the services or products they’ve paid for. That alone is already an imbalance. But there’s more to why people shouldn’t put all their faith on websites like Yelp.
Part of business marketer’s job is to maintain the reputation of a brand or company. That objective sometimes extend to unwarranted means, such as fraudulent review activities, which altogether defeat the very purpose of online review sites.
Yelp is not entirely useless, though. It does strive to ensure the validity of its content, but there really isn’t a surefire way to distinguish bogus reviews, especially those which effectively imitate the logic and feel of genuine feedback.
The operation is simple: marketers create dummy accounts for the sole purpose of posting fair-to-positive reviews for their own business. This is to ‘offset’ the negative reviews that pull down the brand’s reputation among the site visitors, especially to those who take reviews seriously.
The challenge there would be to come up with an approach that would not sound too patronizing, but also positive enough to pull weight. Also, since Yelp now investigates the authenticity of profiles being used to post reviews, marketers are being extra careful in backing themselves with inconspicuous information.
According to Christi Tasker, Online Social Media Marketing Consultant and Strategist, Yelp chooses which reviews to filter.
“Your business might have 117 logged reviews on the site. Only 19 of them show up and Yelp picks them, leaving you to wonder how they reached the decision,” says Christi in a blog post as Social Media Today.
She adds: “Yelp chooses reviews based on one thing alone: businesses who advertise with them. Yep. You heard me right. If you’ve invested in Yelp advertising, the snippet of reviews will be favorable 4 and 5 star ratings. The best of the best. If you haven’t caved to the cause, visible reviews are more in the 1-to-3-star range.”
The good, the bad and the ugly
Yelp can help a business boost its online traffic – but only those which are getting good reviews. To get good reviews, though, one needs to cancel out negative ones (which are practically inevitable) and ‘push’ for more positive reviews.
That ‘push’ may require any means necessary for businesses that are desperate for a better reputation.
Are you willing to get your hands dirty for a couple of gold stars?