Yelp has been making a lot of news recently. Yesterday they announced that they have rolled out a new feature that alerts a business when Yelp detects that their company is receiving multiple reviews from the same IP address (for instance the IP at your dealership). Just to remind everyone, Yelp’s official stance from their blog is “we encourage businesses to take a hands off approach when it comes to receiving reviews”.
Historically, dealers have not had the greatest experience with Yelp. You don’t have to search long to find real-life stories about problems dealers have had working with the review service. In the dealership world, Yelp is often talked about, rarely praised (see here, here, and here).
Last week, Johnson & Weaver, a shareholder rights firm, announced that they are launching an investigation into Yelp’s business practices, specifically focusing on the validity and authenticity of the reviews of local businesses that Yelp displays on its site, mobile site, and mobile app. This announcement comes just a few weeks after the Wall Street Journal reported that Yelp has received over 2,000 FTC complaints in the last 6 years.
Perhaps in response to some of the recent publicity, Yelp announced Tuesday, using their official blog, that they are looking for help from small business owners – new members for the Yelp Small Business Advisory Council (YSBAC). Created in 2010, this panel gets to:
- Participate in an annual summit at Yelp HQ
- Provide input on products under development
- Brainstorm new ideas for Yelp executives to consider
- Serve as a resource for other business owners who have questions about the services and tools on Yelp
According to Yelp, the YSBAC has had a hand in the following improvements:
- “Yelp Metrics” being launched to help business owners track customer leads
- Business owner review comments being visible on mobile
- Development of the free “Revenue Estimate” tool to calculate the value of leads from Yelp
- The “Activity Feed” to track when and how Yelp drives customers to businesses
I think that we’re all fairly skeptical of Yelp’s intentions in reaching out to local business owners, given the challenges I’ve described above. Regardless of our industry’s recent experiences with Yelp, they are a multi-billion dollar company that remains the leading local business review website. So if you’re interested in participating in their YSBAC to influence and shape Yelp’s treatment and relationship with local businesses in the future, there is a simple, 9 question form, that you can complete. Last year, 26 small business owners were chosen from the over 1,000 business owners that applied to participate.
Would you like to share your dealership’s experiences with Yelp?