The litany of complaints associated with the fairness of the policies, procedures and the algorithm determining the way reviews show up in Yelp are endless.
Because the review site has almost full market domination at the local business level, it makes sense that its practices would elicit concerns, particularly when a business feels that its ranking does not accurately reflect its performance, and might be polluted both by Yelp policies and by fake reviews (possibly generated by less than ethical competitors).
Based on Yelp’s popularity, many brick and mortar business owners end up using its scores as a metric to track the trends and behaviors of their businesses, regardless of the state of affairs at Yelp. However, while it is smart to track business reviews, maintain a close eye on Yelp, and understand the factors that influence customers’ opinions, Yelp trends might not always provide you with the best possible metric to fully grasp the corporate health of your organization.
(Check out: “Foursquare for Business: Six Sweet Tips for Biz Owners”)
Understanding that Yelp might not be the most reliable metric is particularly important if your business is making financial and personnel decisions based exclusively on the feedback on the site. There are many reasons why Yelp should be taken with a grain of salt, but the most important reason and one that every manager should take into account is the very fact that Yelp does not foster a culture of verifiability.
Sure, they have a mobile app, but the majority of Yelpers do not habitually verify their visit with a GPS stamped check-in. This could somewhat reduce the credibility and value of engagement. If your business aspires accuracy in its metrics and wishes to incorporate review platform trends, Foursquare presents a terrific and potentially more reliable option.
Check-ins are verified. Foursquare is primarily a mobile platform, requiring proximity to the GPS location of a business to facilitate a check-in. This very action provides a form of validation to the customer engagement that increases the accuracy of their opinion.
Timeliness. By engaging via mobile, the customer who is providing feedback has a better and more accurate recall of the positive and negative aspects of his review. While the review might be colored with the emotions of the moment, it is unlikely to be polluted by lack of recollection or the human tendency to enhance negative experiences while suppressing neutral or slightly positive ones.
Brevity. As a mobile-centric application, the Foursquare model is based on tips instead of emotionally charged multi-paragraph reviews. A short snippet is easier to evaluate, and is particularly effective to parse when it comes to identifying trends impacting the customer experience. Short, actionable bits of content can make a tremendous difference when it comes to pointing your business in the right direction.
Volume. By 2013, Foursquare had over 33 million tips and a year-over-year growth of over 65 percent, greatly surpassing Yelp’s rate of engagement. By virtue of volume, Foursquare provides quite a reliable sample when it comes to equipping business with metrics that are useful and valid for making decisions that will impact the bottom line.
It is important to note that prioritizing Foursquare as a better metrics resource than Yelp does not mean that Yelp should be fully excluded from your overall consumer opinion analysis and reputation management efforts. Yelp continues to be a great lead generator for millions of brick and mortar businesses, and their long-form, highly informative reviews make it a key player that should not be set aside. When designing a game plan for online reputation management, the key is to cover every possible base and parse the data carefully if there is intention to incorporate it into any actionable plan.