On her blog yesterday, Becky McCray shared two social networking sites that already provide business owners a one-two punch of free online advertisements and voluntary customer reviews and ratings, but how many companies know about them?
With its motto, Real People, Real Reviews, Yelp promotes economic development by providing people the ability to create a free account and rate and review businesses of all sizes and genres, though focusing on restaurants and retailers. Residents of my city, Newburyport, and the surrounding region, routinely rate and review the best and worst places in a crowd-sourcing effort to advise and warn future patrons.
From a tourism angle, TripAdvisor is best known for enabling the rating and reviewing of lodging accommodations, restaurants, and other cultural heritage landmarks. It’s not used so much by residents as by tourists. The infrequency of dates for recent reviews, in contrast to the popularity of its cousin Yelp, is partially indicative of ignorance by business owners.
Case in point: The Purple Onion
Known by its trademark purple onions added to salads, sandwiches, wraps, and soups, this Newburyport location on the pedestrian-only Inn Street is busy during lunch hours. When I used to work at City Hall, I walked to the Onion several times a week for scrumptious meals served at reasonable prices.
Yelpers reviewed the Purple Onion 12 times between December 2006 and January 2009. I wrote a mini-review and gave it five stars in February 2008.
Because I attach my real name to everything I do online, I found myself surprised a few weeks later when the Purple Onion manager recognized my name and offered me a complimentary side order of chips and salsa. He didn’t have to offer me anything, but he wanted to thank me for my review. I appreciated that.
TripAdvisor provides a different perspective, indicating the organic food eatery is ranked 17th out of 67 Newburyport restaurants in their database. You can see there are two reviews from last year.
I don’t know how sales are faring at the Purple Onion, but imagine if the restaurant owner (who already has a website that is frequently updated) also claims the Yelp and TripAdvisor entries? By claiming it, photos and videos can be uploaded for free.
Why assume someone will use a search engine to find a restaurant? What if someone is a tourist–or a resident looking for a new place to eat–and uses one of these (or some other social networking) sites? Shouldn’t the goal of business be to cater to the customer?
Yes, the economy is causing frustrations for business owners, but by implementing some high-level internet strategies, suffering revenues have a greater chance of increasing. Especially if people are already talking, rating, and reviewing.
Photo credit: anataman