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