The Value of Yelp and Urbanspoon and Community Reviews

I remember a part from one of my favourite movies “Ratatoullie” from the character Anton Ego where he makes an affirmation that in the grand scheme of things, the opinion of a food critic mattered very little to everyone else. Really speaking this statement comes as no surprise to me and most other people. Long gone are the times when the masses relied on a single voice to recommend to them what their taste palates should try. With the internet and the emergence of social media, two large and well known review communities have taken the place of the traditional “food critic”. Enter Yelp and Urbanspoon, some of the most successful and fastest growing online review communities about food. Leveraging the power and opinions of the crowd, traditional food reviews have given way to the everyday “normal reviewer”, that is, the customer of the restaurant, me and you. These review sites have been integral in the growth of many small businesses and have helped many restaurants gain quick popularity and name through getting ranked on the top lists by area, food type or some other searchable traits.

Yelp leverages social networking first and foremost as its calling card. Reviewers of not only food, but entertainment venues and popular attractions are given special statuses and privileges/discounts through the website sponsors to go around and put up reviews of locations within their areas. Adding into the normal structure of reviews, writers and critics are given reputation systems which visitors can see and use in their decision making process of choosing specific places to visit to eat. Yelp is fun for its users and people have alot of functions that any other social networking platform offer, such as following friends and specific people and seeing the reviews and blogs they post.

Urbanspoon on the other hand is less about the social networking and goes straight to the point with reviews, locations, menus and some options to comment. Again it isn’t as fun for some people that would like to connect with others on the network but it is for people that want to go straight to the point and find the details of their selected food places.

Above all, the credibility lent to both these review communities is based off of the enormous user base and the inherent trust that people have for public comments. While opinions are always taken with a grain of salt, people simply cannot but help be influenced by the multitude of responses and opinions given on the venues that are found within the websites. This is after all the power of the crowd, not that of simply one person. It is the voice of the city that speaks to us as we decide where to spend our hard earned money and it is the voice of the city that we hear.

Interesting to note that I didn’t realize howmuch we as consumers relied on other people for their opinion when the situation serves us. Kind of reminds me of my work and just thinking what situation in which people will find PODIUM something they would “need”.

Edit:don’t know why the link didn’t work but it was http://www.podiumfunds.com

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