Next to Twitter and Facebook, there’s probably no more important site for food truck owners than Yelp (well, we think you should be on Mobile Cuisine too :)). Yet perhaps no other site is as poorly understood. For instance, is it a good idea to encourage your food truck customers to give you good reviews on the site? Does Yelp pay for reviews? How do you go about countering bad reviews?
Since this platform is so important to vendors, it’s important to get the facts straight. With that in mind, take a look at these 8 things you may not have known about the service.
8 Things You May Not Know About Yelp
Most of Its Traffic Is From Its Home Page
You might think that in 2016, most people would be accessing Yelp from their smartphones, but that’s not the case. Sixty percent of searches are from desktops, and the company’s mobile apps are used by about 7 million people.
Encouraging Customers to Post Reviews is a Bad Idea
It might seem like closing a sale with “And don’t forget to tell people about your experience on Yelp!” is smart marketing, but they discourage this practice and other forms of review coercion. “We recommend that people focus on awareness rather than asking for reviews,” because then it becomes an arms race.” The company believes in quality over quantity. they don’t believe that consumers necessarily want to be seen as a promotional vehicle.
You’ve Gotta Earn ‘People Love Us on Yelp’ Stickers
The Yelp sticker is a genuine accolade designed to be akin to a high Zagat rating. That means that you can’t order a “People Love Us on Yelp” decal for love or money. Instead, the company doles them out twice a year to companies that get overall high ratings.
Free Signage Via Flickr
Though Yelp discourages vendors from bugging customers to write reviews, it is a proponent of more subtle means of persuasion. For instance, the company provides downloadable signage via a Flickr stream. You can even put a Yelp link in your email signature and on your business card.
Yelp Has Paid For Reviews in the Past
Though Yelp strives to maintain the purity of its reviews, the company has in the past paid people to write them. However, the company has not done this for at least four years.
Customer Service Appears to Have the Strongest Effect on Reviews
Yelp’s research has found that a customer whose review praises “customer service” is more than five times as likely to give a 5-star review than a 1-star review. Similarly, nearly 70% of those who trash a business’ customer service wind up giving a 1-star review.
Every Star in a Review Leads to a 5-9% Jump in Revenues
A study by a professor at Harvard Business School, found that there was a correlation between a high ranking and revenues. Among other things it found there were far more food truck reviews than there were from Zagat.
Mobile Food Vendors Can Dispute Reviews
If someone trashes your food truck business on this plateform, you don’t have to sit back and take it. In fact, you can go to Yelp and dispute the review. The reviewers can then answer the vendor if need be.
Legal Threats for Bad Reviews Can Trigger ‘The Streisand Effect’
Yelp reviews operate in a grey area between journalism and customer service. If you’re a food truck owner and see a scathing review that is completely incorrect, you may consider it akin to slander and be tempted to call your lawyer. However, Yelp cautions against this. In an FAQ on its site,
“The Streisand Effect,” in which an action has the unintended consequence of drawing more attention to the problem. (The term got its name from Barbra Streisand, whose attempt to suppress photos of her home backfired.) Far from being cowed, recipients will sometimes go public with them as a warning to others not to patronize your business. Second, beware of lawyers who are quick to file lawsuits without telling their clients that it can cost them dearly. Last, take a step back: if you find yourself insisting that a review is obviously untrue, there’s every reason to think that your customers will draw the same conclusion as you. Even if they don’t, Yelp’s review filter is always on the prowl, and it may be able to put enough pieces of the puzzle together over the long-term to filter out the bogus review.”
BONUS: If you’ve grown tired of Yelp, Mobile Cuisine has a solution…Food Truck Reviews. A website developed specifically for for food trucks and consumers looking specifically for food truck businesses.