Are Video Reviews On Yelp A Good Idea?

By: Chris Crum - May 22, 2014

Yelp is reportedly getting video reviews. As of the time of this writing, the company hasn’t formally announced the feature yet, but Business Insider spoke with mobile product manager Madhu Prabaker, who told the publication about the feature, and gave it a sneak peek at the functionality on the app.

As a business, do you like the idea of user-generated video reviews appearing on your business page? Let us know what you think in the comments.

The feature, according to the report, will let users record videos up to twelve seconds in length, and will roll out to Yelp’s “elite” users in June, then to everyone else later. EVERYONE.

Should businesses be concerned about this? For one, we already see complaints from businesses about Yelp very frequently, including those about reviews damaging their reputations. Will letting anybody post videos about businesses only fuel this?

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.

Of course those are mostly from dumb, and/or disgruntled employees, and Yelp has had a photo feature for some time now. We really don’t hear many complaints about that.

Video adds another dynamic though. It gives people a chance to talk over visuals. It gives unhappy customers a chance to visually focus on one aspect of a location that may not provide a complete picture of the whole experience. What if, for example, one person lays waste to a business’ restroom, and someone goes in right afterwards with their finger on the Yelp trigger before the business’ staff is even aware of the problem?

What if an unhappy restaurant customer goes to a completely different location (like their home), and records a bug crawling on the floor, and uploads it to Yelp for that restaurant, as if the bug was actually there? How well will businesses be able to defend themselves from things like this? How well will Yelp be able to protect them?

Of course, sometimes bugs really do make it into the food. Here’s a bug found in a McDonald’s burger, which made headlines.

Yelp does discourage this kind of thing in its guidelines, which 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).

I guess it just comes down to how well Yelp is able to enforce its guidelines.

On the other hand, wouldn’t people wanting to go to a restaurant want to know if people have found flies in their soup there?

According to Business Insider, Yelp will filter videos that are “inappropriate” using the same technology it uses for its photo feature. It’s unclear what this technology consists of, and what exactly is considered “inappropriate”. Is the technology able to catch the fly in the soup scenario before it hits the site?

Again, we haven’t really seen complaints about the photo feature, so maybe this won’t be an issue at all, but we have seen many, many complaints about another Yelp filtering feature.

Engadget makes an interesting point about the feature: “It’ll also give intrepid food shooters another creative outlet that won’t clog up their friends’ and family’s Instagram feeds.”

If people are already expressing their opinions about businesses in videos on Instagram or other social channels, this could sway some of these users into posting them more on Yelp. In the past, any negative video reviews could have been limited to a person’s group of friends, but now could be attached right to your business on Yelp.

Are video reviews on Yelp a good idea? Do you trust Yelp to handle the filtering process adequately? Let us know in the comments.

Image via Yelp

About the Author

Chris CrumChris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.

View all posts by Chris Crum
  • http://www.BCIrent.com/ Donald J. Leske Sr.

    I say Yelp-not.com – For those business owners who are A+ rated with the BBB and have otherwise …good reviews on the internet, it will not matter. Most people will be wise enough to sort it out for themselves. In spite of Yelp my business has grown by 400% in just the past 4 years. Also see: http://www.Yelp-Report.com

  • Jonnathan Poster

    Awesome idea. Often the crazy people leaving a 1-star review can be mistaken for normal people. Now that the world gets to hear and see these morons they’ll be put in their rightful place. I love it.

  • DrBukk

    It’s a terrible idea in these times, when “corporations are evil and government regulation is good” has been hammered into the heads of so many fools.
    I have people posting that I should close down my business for selling what I invented, because it “targets” i.e. helps the poor. Competitors and malcontents already skew my negatives on Amazon by geometric progression… 0.5% returns compared to 65% one-star, “hated it” reviews.
    The only “fair” thing is to do it like YouTube. Let me shout back at an attacker, then ban him from my channel. Any company with an A+ BBB rating, selling a guaranteed product which publishes their physical address and email/phone information should be entitled to do this. Capitalism is at stake, because a small minority of organized haters can and will ruin you, easily.
    This should apply to all the giant social network/advertising entities.
    Make it harder for the leftist haters to sabotage, because they will have to post on thousands of obscure sites instead of a half-dozen Godzillas to affect your sales.

  • http://doodleddoes.com/ Doodled

    Unfortunately it doesn’t improve anything. All you generate is a black market for videos or people on fiverr offering to go to any venue near their home and create a 12 second clip. Remember there are many Yelpers who already sell their services to provide fake reviews and others who build up profiles deliberately to sell them

    This is what fakers do:
    – creating a few profiles and getting them ‘trusted’ by doing some generic reviews on some randomly chosen businesses (easy enough to reword what some others have said).
    – buy a 12 second video from someone
    – access the web via a proxy server close to the venue
    – post my fake review

    At best this is just another sticky plaster attempt to fix a flawed system, at worst it is something else Yelp sales staff can (allegedly) filter in or out in their drive to get business signed up.

    Keep an eye on the Joe Hadeed court case. This carpet cleaner might bring Yelp down!.

  • JB814

    It serves Yelp’s interests. In the past, no news from a client was good news. Customers aren’t excited about receiving what was expected, but those who in their opinion, misguided or correct, believe they were slighted want justice. Services like Yelp while declaring themselves virtuous are arguably a means for those who feel slighted to get even. That makes them bias toward the negative and controversial — both hallmarks of media hype.

  • http://www.lisabethdesignmagazine.com CDC

    I think it might be crowded with customer comments and there video review. It would be a great idea for only the business owners or like the owner of the restraunt, i.e., for them to make a personalized video.