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Posts Tagged ‘Yelp’

Yelp Going to the Virginia Supreme Court for its Fake Reviews

yelpHaven’t we been here before?

It seems like it was just March 21 when we brought a #PRFail editorial about Yelp and its fake reviews. In the post, we brought three lawsuits to your attention under the premise of Yelp’s plight of “free speech debate” could cause some serious drama for the ubiquitous ratings and reports website.

Whelp, we should have called Vegas because Yelp is in the news about its reviews. You know? Again. And this time, they are visiting the highest court in the land cloaking itself in the warm embrace of the First Amendment. (Well, highest court in Virginia, but you get the point. The s#!t is about to hit the fan.)

Good luck with that…  Read more

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Common Yelp Lawsuits May Cause Serious #PRFail

hateyelpIn the land of the free to sue anyone they want and home of the brave lawyers with no scruples to take their money, frivolous lawsuits are no stranger to the U.S. Justice System. Much to the detriment of good legal beagles out there, these lawsuits kill the reputations of so many things.

And now, they may kill Yelp all together.

The crowdsourcing website for reviews, scorn, honesty, and trolls has been in the courts of ‘Merica one too many times. However, these last few cases may have legal experts reconsidering how review websites are beneficial when so many people abuse them.

For example…

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How Much Power Does a Restaurant Critic Have?

You may have heard that Adam Platt, primary restaurant critic for New York magazine, recently revealed himself to the world at large after years of “anonymity”. Here he is on CBS This Morning explaining his decision:


Something we all know: for restaurant owners, a visit from the big-name food critic is an event. Even in this Yelp-powered “everyone’s voice counts” age, discerning diners still pay attention to people who get paid to write and talk about food.

Is that equation changing?

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Is Reddit the New Reputation Management Tool?

reddit_logo_banner

Confession: we’re new to Reddit. We kind of saw it as a place where people gathered to argue over whether Game of Thrones needs to be more faithful to the books before we used it to scroll through theories about the Breaking Bad finale (it’s a “degrees of nerditude” issue). But this week our friends at Solomon McCown & Company posted a story on their blog asking whether PR needs to get more familiar with the site—and the answer is definitely “yes.”

Lots of people whose names you know have subjected themselves to “ask me anything” sessions, and now it’s almost a requirement. Some AMAs are fascinating (“I am a former Amish person that left home and joined the military“) while others are strictly for the fans (“I’m Dennis from Always Sunny“) and some are a little disappointing (Hi, President Obama).

The most relevant session happened this past weekend, when Yelp‘s CEO Jeremy Stoppelman ”stopped by”. As you might expect for a somewhat controversial company, most of the action involved Stoppelman defending his business and its practices. Key quote:

“There has never been any amount of money you could pay us to manipulate reviews.”

Some other responses:

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Yelp Reviewers File Suit Demanding Pay for Their Sloppy Copy

PeopleloveusonYelp

Here’s a twist on the “brand ambassador” and “crowdsourced content” trends: a group of hard-working Yelp “critics” has filed a class-action lawsuit demanding that the site pay them for writing so many reviews of the businesses they love and hate.

You may think this is “incredibly stupid” given the fact that the reviewers volunteered their time and (debatable) skills and that Yelp never promised to pay them. But it’s a little more complicated than that.

The argument here: while Yelp aggressively goes after companies that pay for reviews (and PR firms that post them), the company also encourages its most prolific members to post more often by offering “trinkets, badges, titles, praise, social promotion, free liquor, free food, and free promotional Yelp attire, such as red panties with ‘Make Me Yelp!’ stamped across its bottom.”

Ha ha. And Yelp can’t honestly say that it never pays contributors with money, either.

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New York State Fines ‘Reputation’ Firms in Fake Review Crackdown

I always feel like somebody's watching me...Last week a study revealed the importance of making sure that the first review for your client’s product is a good one. But if you’re based in New York State, you’ll have to be careful in soliciting positive feedback: Attorney General/consumer advocate Eric T. Schneiderman just helped enact the “most comprehensive crackdown to date on deceptive reviews on the Internet.”

The state’s yearlong investigation led to agreements (aka fines) with 19 companies including some of the best-known sources for online reviews as well as “reputation-enhancement firms” paid to astroturf for clients on sites like Google, Yahoo!, and Yelp.

Get ready for a fake shock: this practice went well beyond your typical restaurant and book reviews to ensnare doctors, lawyers and even “an ultrasound clinic”. The state conducted its research in classic undercover style, with an investigator posing as a business owner who suffered from negative write-ups and wanted his online reputation managed more aggressively.

Investigators found plenty of parties willing to lie for a price. Reputation firms at home and abroad didn’t just crank out reviews at a dollar-per-post rate—they also paid existing customers for more positive write-ups and even “went on review sites that criticized their own fake-review operations and wrote fake reviews denying they wrote fake reviews.”

Take a moment to read that sentence again.

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TripAdvisor Offers to Scrub Negative Hotel Reviews in Exchange for a Little Renovation

In what should be great news to anyone with clients in the hospitality industry, top travel blog Skift reports that TripAdvisor has announced plans to remove negative user reviews from hotel listings…as long as the businesses in question do some renovating. Given the power of user reviews to drive sales, this is kind of a big deal.

The change has been in the works for some time, but the company recently got specific with its demands (hint: new paint and window dressings won’t do).

To qualify as a major renovation, changes must be structural in nature. Cosmetic changes, such as new carpets, paint, or wallpaper, do not qualify.

In order to certify said (major) renovations, the business in question must submit one of the following documents:

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Facebook Wants to Know What You Had for Breakfast This Morning

Facebook’s latest plan to convince brands and advertisers that its services have some real-world value involves utilizing the endless data collected via users’ adventures beyond their own accounts.

In other words, Zuck and company’s new aggregation partners will collect info about what users do when they’re not scrolling through their newsfeeds so the ‘book can better tailor ads to relevant audiences and convince more clients to pay for exposure. Yes, the faceless Big Data-bot wants to know which books you bought on Amazon, which shows you watch on Hulu and which restaurants you like on Yelp and Seamless — because it’s all about those cookies. Identifying data will be scrambled, so your names won’t be revealed. But still: New World Order, One World Government, cats marrying dogs, yadda yadda. We’re all doomed.

As All Things D‘s Peter Kafka observed yesterday, this sounds a whole lot like what Google and other companies have been doing for years. So now brands have two options: they can promote themselves the Facebook way by shoving sponsored stories in your face or they can use outside data to reach target audiences like everyone else. They can also do both and compare the data.

More options are a good thing! But will this move make Facebook more valuable for clients and users? We’re pretty tired of seeing sponsored posts that don’t interest us at all, so we’ll say maybe.

Google and Yelp Launch Mobile ROI Calculators. Why Do We Care?

Google Mobile "GoMo"No matter who your clients are and what kind of content you use to promote them, a growing number of people will read it on mobile. That’s why Google‘s release of its first “mobile ROI calculator” is a big deal. It’s true that the “Full Value of Mobile” calculator is more directly relevant to marketers and business owners than PR pros (especially since it’s primarily concerned with Google Ads or AdWords). But it’s going to be very important for your clients’ brands.

Why? Because it will help them better understand exactly how their mobile ads influence sales — and it will help client teams use real-world data to demonstrate the success of Google ads and cost-per-action (CPA) campaigns. According to Google’s blog post/announcement, a recent study showed that nearly 3 in 10 web searches lead consumers to visit a store, contact a business or make a purchase. So this is a big deal to any client who sells products online.

If you have any clients in the food/brick and mortar retail sectors, Yelp‘s announcement should be of interest as well: the site’s “revenue estimator” will show the owners of small businesses how many “leads” come directly from their Yelp pages and related promo campaigns — and make estimates as to the ultimate dollar value of that traffic.

So will we be using either of these tools? What effect might they have on our relationships with clients?

Will Facebook’s ‘Graph Search’ Affect PR Campaigns?

Facebook Graph Search Mark ZuckerbergExcuse us for being a little skeptical about the relevance of Facebook‘s new “Graph Search” function, presented to reporters yesterday by the company’s communications staffers on demo stations that New York Magazine’s Kevin Roose calls “PR Borgs.”

Seriously, though: Why would we want to search for “pictures that my friends took in Canada” or “dentists’ offices where my friends have checked in” or “single women in Park Slope who know one of my friends and like Game of Thrones“? (OK, that last one might make sense if we were still single.)

The more we think about it, though, we feel like graph search–which really needs a new name, BTW–could infringe upon the territory of other social networks, primarily LinkedIn, Foursquare, Yelp, dating sites like Match.com and the big one…Google.

What does this mean for the PR world?

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