I realize that it’s sad to admit it, but the review site I use most often is the one that frustrates me most: Yelp.
What I like about Yelp: I can find reviews for any type of service, and I can easy find the most geographically convenient service.
What I don’t like: The reviews themselves. Generally speaking.
Here’s what I want in a review site, food or service:
What was good, what was bad. Cut to the chase.
Instead, on Yelp, I read lots of flowery prose. Back story. Narrative. Long essays.
And here’s the thing: Yelp is a review site, it’s not your blog. It’s meant to provide value and to help, not to be an outlet for you to write for free and get lots of eyes on it. If you’re writing a long-winded review because you want the hits, start a blog. If you’re writing for ego masturbation or for the sake of seeing your name in print, start a blog. Start writing reviews that help, stop writing diary entries. If your proposal story is relevant to the review, by all mean share it. Did the wait staff go above and beyond for your birthday? Share it. If it’s extraneous fluff that only serves as context that’s meaningless to anyone but you, cut it out. Then blog about it because I’d love to read about it in the context of your own online space.
Two things to keep in mind when writing reviews on review sites:
1. Answer “What’s in it for me?” for the reader; and
2. Ask yourself “Why am I talking?” (Also known as the “W.A.I.T.” principle, which Gabrielle Bernstein talks about in her book Miracles Now)
I was asked recently by the Operations Manager of a new food review site what food review sites I use. I mentioned Yelp, and I said that I’m a member of Urbanspoon but never use it. Truthfully, I have no idea why I don’t use Urbanspoon when it suits me better. The only answer I can give is that I never remember to. I like that I can see reviews from trusted friends, see blogger reviews and see trusted critic reviews. I can give restaurants a simple thumbs up or down. Perhaps I have to start using it more.
Then there’s TripAdvisor, which I use for places outside of my own home city – but maybe I need to start using that too for local business. The choices for user generated content are overwhelming.
On that note, in addition to Yelp and Urbanspoon there are two new kids on the block, one of which has been wildly popular oversees. I will tell you about them in time.