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17 Your Pizza Sucks And . . .

Yelp t-shirtsIn this new age of social media marketing and user generated content, marketers are learning first hand the impact of directory sites that allow visitors to rate and review the products, service and services of companies at the local level.

These sites garner a fair amount of bad feelings from small business owners as they often allow rants from disgruntled customers, but few protections for the actual small business against unfounded or competitor sponsored bad reviews.

These sites do serve a useful purpose for the consumer, are growing in popularity, and are here to stay, so now’s the time to learn how to navigate them, participate in them, and use them to your marketing advantage.

But first, here’s some interesting coverage on this issue for background.
1) One of the sites getting some of its own negative reviews when it comes to posting reviews without any recourse for the business owner is Yelp! – in this New York Times article Yelp! is criticized for its hands off policies.
2) One San Francisco Pizza hot spot took matters in their own hands and turned the tables, so to speak, on Yelp! by creating Yelp! t-shirts for their staff to wear that featured some of the most absurd one star ratings. The coverage Pizzeria Delfina received, including a national spot on NPR and a mention on American Idol may have actually led to Yelp!’s decision to change some of its policies and allow more control over reviews for business owners.
3) A New York Times follow-up story quotes Yelp’s co-founder and chief executive, Jeremy Stoppelman announcing that business owners will now have the ability to publicly respond to reviews, particularly those they feel are unfair.

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