Yelp Reviews And Their Filtering Process

It’s sometimes interesting how things come full circle; well, at least half circle. I’ve been introduced to a concept that I hadn’t really thought would or could occur, but in retrospect I believe I might have thought about it and just didn’t think all that much about it until now. Confused? Let me get more specific.

In yesterday’s post that talked about being positive while pointing out negative things, I shared a review I’d written on a local restaurant. In that article, I mentioned how I found it interesting that the bad reviews for the restaurant had been hidden and only one good review was showing, but that I’d found the bad reviews anyway.

That review site is called Yelp, and truthfully, I’d never heard of them before looking for the reviews on the restaurant in question. It turns out, through another friend mentioning it to me, that they have a process of filtering out reviews and only showing what they believe are “proper reviews”. In essence, I came across this video, which is also on their site, which explains their filtering process.

At the same time another local friend of mine, a lady named Trisha Torrey, sent me an article she wrote on Yelp that explained how not everything you see on their site is accurate either. It seems that, according to her, they’ll contact business and, for a fee, remove the bad stuff in some fashion, only leaving good things. In her case she’d seen some physicians that had received bad reviews and suddenly those things were gone. She also mentioned, in another article, how not seeing all reviews alters a potential consumers perception of whether a physician is good or bad, and of course that argument extends to other types of reviews as well. By the way, the comments on the second article are pretty interesting as well; obviously some folks missed the point of the article.

Whereas I understand Yelp and what it’s trying to do, I think the implications are questionable across the board. Their position is thus:

1) We know some reviews are fake and we want to catch those
2) We know some reviews are spur of the moment and thus are skewed
3) We believe that people who use our website over and over are far more valuable than other reviews because they put up a profile so we know who they are

Not a bad position overall. But here’s the downside:

1) Just because a person only writes one review doesn’t invalidate the bad behavior, nor support the good behavior
2) Filtering leaves you open to be suspected of nefarious behavior, whether you do what people suspect or not
3) You already have a process where people have to create an account so they can leave their review; shouldn’t that be enough?

I’ve been told by a few people that I should write a review on both Yelp and Trip Advisor about what happened. Based on questions about Yelp, I don’t fully know that I can trust them to leave my review up. Trip Advisor is another issue entirely. They don’t even have the restaurant listed, so I’d have to jump through hoops to get them listed, then go back and write a review. Frankly, I’m not that mad, and I think my initial restaurant review stands on its own for now. At least I know I can’t be bought off, and if I’m asked to remove it we all know it ain’t happening.

Now that I’ve written this it begs the question as to what we can believe and trust when we read reviews on sites like this. And that’s too bad, because I’m sure many sites give us the truth, but now they’re all up for being questioned. What do you think?

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Writing Something Negative And Still Being Positive

Last week a friend of mine went to a local restaurant for lunch. It turned out to be a horrible experience, as I wrote about it on my local area blog. That post, and previous posts about local stuff that has bothered me here and there, got an interesting reaction.

by bluekdesign

Some people wrote to say they agreed with what I had to say. Some wrote to say they didn’t know if it was good that I outed a local business in that fashion. Some who wanted to share wrote on the blog, while others wrote me directly; one wrote me on Facebook. For those that didn’t believe I should do it, I was asked why I was being so negative about it all.

I found that to be an interesting take on the affair. It’s not unique, obviously, but it was definitely interesting. I have a few thoughts on the subject, and these thoughts kind of relate back to blogging. Let me have my say, then tell me what you think.

The first thought is that one can talk about something they didn’t like and still be positive about it. I went into that restaurant with high hopes. I left feeling very disappointed, but I can’t say that I was angry. I was disappointed, and I think someone at the restaurant should have made things good, but I wasn’t angry. But I felt that with everything that went on it deserved to be written about, so I did.

My second thought went to a post Beverly Mahone wrote last week titled Bad Mouthing Others Creates Unwanted Publicity, where she talked about a guy who wasn’t happy with services he said he didn’t receive and outed the person online. She wasn’t sure it was fair; I decided it was absolutely fair. One of the other commenters said it might not be fair because the other person couldn’t defend herself. I said she could defend herself by writing in her own blog or, better yet, addressing the issue with her former client in a more professional way and diffusing the entire thing.

My third thought is this belief that when one is normally positive and is in a positive mindset that one should just forget things and move on with life. To that degree I’d have to say it “depends”. If the worst thing that happened was that someone was rude, I might have let it go. But this was a major fail for more than one reason, and the fact that my friend tried to give them the opportunity to make it good and was rebuffed, and that the incident could have been intentionally personal, was enough for me to write about it. I wasn’t mad then, I wasn’t mad when I wrote the post. I just tell the stories as they are.

And see, that’s the thing about being a blogger. Overall it doesn’t matter what one writes about as long as its the truth. One can decide to be angry if that’s what suits them and if it’s how one feels then by all means do it. Or one can decide to capture the story as it played out, then let the chips fall where they may. After all, I’ve talked about the concept of being controversial and how some people may or may not be ready for it. Truth will always win out, as it did with my Finish Line post. In that instance I was mad and not even close to positive. 🙂

Do you believe that you personally can write about a negative instance and still be positive overall? Or are you someone who’d rather let those types of things go and move on with life? By the way, if you’d like to see something, here’s a list of 1001 Tolerations that people will put up with instead of standing up for themselves. It’s a pdf so just right-click and download it. Oh yeah, it’s free.

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Another Blogging Research Survey; Following The Hashtag

Yesterday I wrote a post basically asking myself if I was using Twitter wrong. My thought was that I really wasn’t using it in a proper business way, and thus could be impeding my progress in getting more clients and business through there.

Emotional Chaos by Byron May

In particular, I decided that maybe something I should be doing was following the hashtag for “blogging” so I could see what people might be saying. It didn’t start off as a survey or research in any way, but I was kind of amazed at what I found, what happened and didn’t happen, and other types of stuff, and I figured that since I always say that if people paid attention to what’s going on around them that they’d always have blog posts, and I do, that it would be intriguing to share some of what I came across. If not, well, at least it’s a post. lol By the way, the stats aren’t absolutes, but pretty close to what I came across.

To start off with, I tracked the blogging hashtag over a 12-hour period. That’s a long time, and one would have thought there would be tons of blogs to see. There were a lot of blogs, but it seems that most of them were retweets of those blogs using that hashtag. Probably half of all the links I saw were retweets. And at least 35% of those were retweets for big name bloggers such as Darren Rowse or sites like Copyblogger. And one more amazing thing was that on Problogger, none of the posts that were retweeted were written by him; all were guest posts. Of course Copyblogger has multiple writers, so that makes sense.

Next, about 30 to 35% of the blogs that were being shown were Disqus, Intense Debate, or some other style of blog that required one sign in or create an account. As most of y’all know I don’t do Disqus blogs, so I didn’t even read any of those. Yeah, I know, I might have missed something good, but if I’m not commenting I’m not really sharing either; after all, that was a part of the adventures, commenting then sharing the post, which we talked about a few days ago.

Speaking of which, something else that was interesting is that around 80% of the blogs that were shown and then retweeted didn’t have a single comment on them, and the rest that did didn’t have a single comment from any of the people who had retweeted it; well, only one did, and of course it was our friend Pat who’d beaten me there. Isn’t that kind of bizarre overall though?

On the day I found 9 blogs that I felt I could comment on and then retweet. Out of those 9 blogs 5 of them moderated my comment; y’all know how I feel about moderated comments as well. I didn’t get a single response from any of the blogs I commented on… well, not totally true. From one blog I did eventually get an automated response thanking me for leaving a comment and saying that it would be reviewed and addressed later on. Frankly, I’m thinking that’s not friendly enough for me, so y’all know I won’t be subscribing or going back any time soon.

Finally, obviously I read some good stuff, and some stuff that bothered me slightly but it was still good. I wouldn’t have retweeted anything I absolutely hated. I did retweet a couple of things I just couldn’t leave a comment on because they left me with nothing I could add to the conversation, and I mentioned that in the retweet. There are some pretty talented people out there that we don’t know about, and it’s too bad. But we’re not all meant to agree with everything we see and everything we comment on; we’re meant to add to the discussion if possible.

In the end I’ve decided that’s not a great hashtag to follow. There was more blather there than anything else. I really wonder if those folks are reading any of what they’re sharing or not. At least I did some reading and some sharing, and if nothing else happens I think there will be a few more people who will at least know my face and name because of my commenting on their blogs.

Sometimes, that’s the best you’ve got coming to you.

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Am I Using Twitter Wrong?

By now there’s no question that I enjoy being on Twitter. I’ve written about it enough and talked about it enough and even given tips on how to use it for business. There’s really a lot to Twitter that can work for us, even though I still say it’s probably not for everyone.

tweet me something
by Policarpo Wood

However, I’ve been having this feeling lately that I’m not quite using Twitter properly. Of course some might say there’s no proper way of using Twitter and I may or may not disagree with that. After all, I’m the guy who wrote on the mix of sociability and business on Twitter as well as telling a story about the power of Twitter.

According to all the sources that give Twitter reports and the like, I’m considered an almost perfect user. I have the mix of being social as well as sharing information. Klout, which I’m still unsure about, lists me as a thought leader, saying I understand what my audience wants to hear. And according to Twitter itself I’m in 244 direct lists, which means that many people are actually looking to see what I have to say and want to participate with me. Out of around 2,800 followers, that’s somewhere around 5%; I’ll take that.

It’s the first point up there that I’ve been wondering about, however. Business and sociability. I know I’ve got the sociability part down, but the business part bothers me. I’ve started wondering just what type of business stuff am I doing that could either drive people to my websites or get people to communicate with me to possibly work with them.

What am I doing? Well, let’s see… Every blog post from all of my blogs shows up on Twitter; that’s a little bit of marketing. That might work for my business blog but it doesn’t do anything for any of the rest of my blogs. I talk about all types of concepts and stories on the other 3 blogs, but none necessarily help me hype any business I might do. Every once in awhile I post a link to a page on one of my websites highlighting a business process I can perform, but that’s really rare, as I’m not one of those people who’s popping out “me-me-me” every 5 minutes; ugh!

This leads to the question of how one can do a proper mix of sociability and business on Twitter using the same account, because some people get around this by creating two accounts. What happens with that for the most part is that people either forget which account they’re on when they communicate with someone or they end up posting everything twice because they remember and then switch to the other account because it might have different followers. I know some people that have 4 or 5 Twitter accounts; I figure I’m schizophrenic enough having 4 blogs.

Probably the best thing I could do for business would be to follow certain hashtags, as I talked about when I wrote on Twitter chats. It’s the major recommendation for large businesses, that they follow not only their business name but whatever their industry happens to be to see what people are talking about.

I don’t follow any hashtags consistently, but have mainly stuck to seeing what’s going on in my community unless there’s something big going on in the world. I need to think about which 3 hashtags I should be checking on a more consistent basis that makes sense.

For instance, it would make no sense following the term “writing” because that can be used so many ways that it would become a major mess. I could follow the term “blogging”, though, not necessarily because it would lead to business but because it’s a topic that would be easier to follow and would lead to a lot of blogs that write on the subject, giving me more opportunities to spread my influence.

Just to mention this, I have gotten work that came directly from Twitter. There was one person I was consistently writing for last year, and I got a minor speaking engagement, locally so it was free, from it as well. I’ve also been interviewed many times by my friend Beverly because of our Twitter conversations. So I’m not totally deficient; I just feel I can step it up.

If you’re of a mood to be using Twitter for business in any fashion, what do you think of my beliefs in the process of hashtags? Are you doing something different, or are you even trying to use Twitter for business in any fashion?

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A Question About Free

I was having an interesting conversation with a friend of mine about the concept of free. He was saying that offering free items these days, which almost everyone recommends as a way to drive people to one’s blog, website, or newsletter, is passe and just doesn’t work anymore. He used as his example the free food given out at places like BJ’s Wholesale Club on a weekend and how he always passes all that stuff by.

by Derek Hatfield

Of course, his mentioning something like that to someone like me doesn’t quite work out. When I go to BJ’s on a Saturday, one of my pleasures is making sure I get to scarf up many of the free goodies, There’s no way I’d ever just up and buy anything I didn’t get to taste first, and I love sampling foods… at least foods I’ll eat.

However, his overall point seems to be one to consider. Let me ask you the question outright: how many of you really notice increases in visitors, increases in subscribers or increases in anything else when you offer something free? I have to say that my friend (okay, it’s Mitch) isn’t far off base.

For instance, how many of you have noticed the freebie there to the left, the book download of The Synergy of Business and Blogging? How many of you who saw the original post when I wrote it in January actually went ahead and downloaded it? Unfortunately for me, 1&1, my hosting company, has changed their start up page so I no longer have access to seeing how many times it was downloaded, and Google Analytics doesn’t tell me that either, but I’m betting it’s been a rare thing for me or the people who created it.

Eliminating myself from the mix, how do most of the rest of you feel about downloading free stuff? Are you wary that you’ll get viruses? Do you think you won’t get anything out of it? Have you just gone blind to the concept of free stuff posted on a blog or website? Or do you have other reasons if you don’t download, as well as reasons you do? Inquiring minds would like to know.

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