Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Yikes If This Is True About Yelp

One San Francisco restauranteur is fed up with customer review site Yelp.  According to Davide Cerretini, co-owner of Botto Bistro, the restaurant caved into advertising on the review site after being bombared with sales calls.  But after a six month term, Cerretini decided stop advertising through Yelp.  Suddenly, he noticed that positive reviews turned negative and one positive review was removed.

While this raises serious questions about the integrity of online review business, Cerretini's response is simply fantastic - offering a 25% discount on pizza to every reviewer who submits a one star rating on the site.  This move has prompted the restaurants loyal customers to come to its defense, writing sarcastic one-star reviews of the bistro, such as "I mean it tastes nothing like Domino’s or Little Caesar’s.

According to Cerretini, the word-of-mouth is spreading. "I think this is the best business move I have made in years."  The genius of Botto Bistro's "Hate Us On Yelp" campaign is that it's giving their customers something to talk about - rallying them against the practices of Yelp and people who leave negative reviews of the bistro. 

The ironic lesson to learn from this whole saga is that word-of-mouth cannot be purchased.  The mockery of offering a discount for a one-star reviews is really a Botto Bistro's way of pointing out that this is essentially the same principle as business paying Yelp to enhance their listings. The authenticity of the reviews has to be questioned

As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts on this topic and any other interesting marketing-related musings.

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