More on Yelp

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I’m going to post on behalf of a colleague of mine, Carl Natale, who sent this email out to some of the marketing community here in Portland:

I’m trying to spark some conversation via blogging here. Anybody and everybody can take a stab at this. But there is a user review site called yelp.com. It seems pretty big in the major markets but not so much in Maine. But they do have some Portland reviews. We aim to do the same with our dining section (http://entertainment.mainetoday.com/dining).

In San Francisco, a cafe got tired of negative reviews and tried to lash back in strange way:
http://gesterling.wordpress.com/2007/10/16/no-yelpers-says-one-local-cafe/

There are a few things here. One, this kind of word-of-keyboard is big. Customers are reviewing and reading user reviews. It’s so big that this cafe blames its woes on it. I have a stake in this but to me it’s a sign that this is here to stay.

Two, there has to be a better strategy to deal with this. Yes, businesses can improve customer service and quality instead of trying to stop customers from “yelping.” But should these user review sites become part of the marketing strategy. Can you do that without having employees pose as customers and post reviews? How do you respond?

I applauded one restaurant’s approach to a newspaper review earlier this year. Does this make sense for a business?
http://www.mainetoday.com/comments/015096.html
http://pressherald.mainetoday.com/story.php?id=129538&ac=Audience

Back to the user review part of this. How should these sites figure into your marketing strategy?

This e-mail is the blogging equivalent of a jump ball. Anyone can go for it. So forward it around too. I’m looking forward to reading what you have to say.

Comments are welcome.