Yelp Launches Video Upload Feature. Is Your Business Ready?

    July 28, 2014
    Chris Crum
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A couple months ago, we learned that Yelp was preparing to launch a video feature. The company has now officially launched it.

Do you like the idea of Yelp users taking videos from within your business and posting it to the site? Share your thoughts in the comments.

The idea behind the feature, according to Yelp, is that users will be able to show off aspects of a location, such as ambiance, lighting, noise level, etc. They’ll be able to do this for their “favorite local businesses”. Something tells me users won’t limit this to their favorites, and may use it for businesses that they have problems with.

“Photos are a great way to add a visual element to your reviews, and Yelpers upload more than 23,000 of them from their mobile apps alone per day,” says Yelp mobile product manager Madhu Prabaker. “We also know visuals are important to Yelpers since they spend 2.5 times longer on business pages with images than on those without. Now, using your iPhone (and soon Android) Yelp app, you can take short, 3-12 second videos of your favorite local businesses and better capture those details that photos alone can’t.”

Keep in mind, Yelp is encouraging users to take videos of your business, but doesn’t want your business to ask for a review. I wonder what those restaurants that don’t like people taking pictures of their food will think about this. Same for the businesses worried about people showrooming. All they’ll see is someone pulling out their phone and pointing it at something. Yelp is also going out of their way to tell users that they’re not too worried about the quality of the videos.

“Worried your video skills are not up to par? We’re not looking for Ken Burns-level documentary filmmaking – it’s actually more helpful to see what a real-life consumer experience looks like without fancy editing or narration,” says Prabaker. “These are not intended to be ‘video reviews,’ but rather an extension of the visual experience. Sound trippy? Here’s what we mean: These short videos are great for conveying the atmosphere of a business, which helps others anticipate their experience before stopping by. For instance, imagine scrolling through pics of delicious dishes at a new bistro but not really being able to tell if the ambiance is more ‘date night’ or ‘family friendly.’ Yelp video is here to help.”

I’m sure it will be nothing but helpful, positive content, right?

As we reminisced in a previous article, think about all the PR disasters that have occurred from in-restaurant photos being shared to various social media sites (and Yelp does consider itself a social media site).

We’ve seen people putting their private parts on bread and freezing bottles of urine at Subway, and posting it to Instagram. We’ve seen Taco bell workers licking taco shells and posting it to Facebook – to the restaurant’s official page no less. We’ve seen a Golden Corral employee expose all kinds of gross stuff from the restaurant on reddit, complete with photos.

And that’s just the employees. What kind of video content might we see from upset customers?

While we haven’t seen many complaints about photos that appear on Yelp pages, video takes things up a notch. It gives people a chance to talk and capture more content. It could give an unhappy customer a chance to visually focus on a single aspect of a business, which may or may not provide a complete picture of the whole experience or even the full context.

Yelp has guidelines in place to help ease your concerns, assuming you trust Yelp’s ability to enforce its policies. Here’s what they say:

Business photos and videos should be broadly relevant to the business and reflect the typical consumer experience (e.g., what the business looks like, what the business offers, etc.).

We may remove photos and videos that showcase a more unique personal experience (e.g., your smiling group of friends at the bar, the fly in your soup) as well as lower quality photos and videos (e.g., too blurry or dark).

Unfortunately, Yelp doesn’t have the greatest reputation among businesses when it comes to ensuring the best content about them appears on their pages.

Either way, it’s likely that these videos will not only appear on Yelp itself, but in countless other apps and websites too, as Yelp recently opened up its API to spread its data around to whoever wants to use it. Yelp is also getting an incredible amount of visibility in Google search results, and people also seem to be trusting what they see on Yelp more than ever.

It looks like Yelp’s video offerings take advantage of Brightcove, though the company doesn’t mention it in its announcement.

Do you think video on Yelp is a good idea? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Yelp

  • Anon

    Any business actively engaging in Yelp needs to take a hard look at what they are doing to themselves and their market. There is more than just anecdotal evidence of mass extortion being conducted by this company, and everyone should stay clear of it. If you pay Yelp any money, you are paying off a group of mobsters hiding behind a cloak of respectability.

  • Travis

    Anon summed that up perfectly. Now we get to have Yelp threaten us on their monthly extortion calls that users will be posting video to the top of our listings unless we pay them a certain “hush” bribe.

  • Nun ya

    So companies think they can continue to get rich off creators ha? Now this! Thank goodness the younger generation is waking up to all these fraud companies exploiting talents that sweat blood and tears creating content. They better watch out! The backroom talks are people are tired of these fat cat crooks draining till they can’t drain no more,and talking about it is about over. Certain factions feel it’s time to start breaking legs! No talk! No mercy!

  • Jim

    What recourse do businesses have to remove their listings from Yelp? That would at least even the playing field, right?

  • Beinformed

    This video deal is going to be a pain….but don’t forget, video can be edited easily these days, so take it all with a grain of salt…is it even accurate?
    I tell my clients that if they get a great review, that’s fantastic, if they get a bad one, contact the poster and fix the problem. We all know that there are a multitude of whack jobs posting negative, unwarranted comments online but they are discovered as “nut cases” when they are outnumbered 50 to 1. If I read 100 comments and only 2-3 are terrible, I believe it’s a personal vendetta against the business or these people are just never satisfied.

  • Jeff Safire

    We all know Yelp uses “special” algorithms to sift out non-legit reviews and how well that works. So, why didn’t Yelp mention how they’re going to sift out non-legit (e.g., altered) videos? It would be child’s play to take a 5-second video of your soup, and then use Photoshop to add a fly in the middle of it. Yelp just gets worse and worse, every time they add a “feature” or every time their CEO opens his mouth and puts his foot in it.