Social media - Yelp

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An interesting story about the dark side of Yelp - from business website The Hustle:

The restaurant owner who asked for 1-star Yelp reviews
In 2014, chef Davide Cerretini advertised a special that would forever change his fate: Anyone who left his restaurant a 1-star review on Yelp would get 25% off a pizza.

See, his Bay Area-based Italian joint, Botto Bistro, was at a crossroads. Like many small businesses, it was enslaved to the whims of online reviewers, whose public dispatches could make or break its reputation.

He’d had enough: It was time to pry the stars from the “cold, grubby hands of Yelpers” and take control of his own destiny.

But the move would set Cerretini at the center of a long-standing battle between Yelp and disgruntled business owners — a battle including cries of “extortion,” review manipulation, and predatory advertising tactics.

The reason for his strategy:

By the time Botto Bistro opened its doors in 2009, Yelp boasted some 26m unique visitors per month. And whether intentionally or not, the platform had entrenched itself as the controller of every small business’s online reputation — and fate.

In the months after Botto Bistro’s grand opening, Cerretini began receiving dozens of calls from Yelp salespeople, who implored him to buy ads.

According to Cerretini, when he rebuffed these offers, he’d often notice that freshly posted 5-star reviews would be removed from his page — often no less than 24 hours after getting off the phone with a Yelp rep.

“I came from Italy, and know exactly what mafia extortion looks like,” he says. “Yelp was manipulating reviews and hoping I would pay a protection fee. I didn’t come to America and work for 25 years to be extorted by some idiot in Silicon Valley.”

And the upshot:

Soon, he came to a realization: “What if I don’t give a shit about reputation? What if I take away their power by actually making it worse?”

One morning in September of 2014, he placed a simple sign in front of Botto Bistro: Give us a one star review on Yelp and get 25% off any pizza! Hate us on Yelp. (The discount was later increased to 50%.)

Much more at the site - an amazing story. Classic case of the Great and Powerful Wizard of Oz Yelp.

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About this Entry

This page contains a single entry by DaveH published on June 10, 2019 9:02 PM.

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