Thursday, November 14, 2013

Astroturfing Yelp Reviews

Just recently, an article came to my attention about the rising issue of restaurants creating fake Yelp reviews about themselves to draw people in. For those of you that aren't familiar with Yelp, it is an online website that allows you to write a review about any restaurant that you just visited so that other potential patrons can log on and read what other people think.

Referred to as "astroturfing," writing a fake review has become increasingly popular over the last year as researchers have noticed that our eating trends are now leaning towards "crowd-sourced" reviews instead of advertisement with flashy billboards and commercials. With over 24 million reviews having been written since 2004, researchers at Boston University are trying to find a precise answer as to why a restaurant would write a fake review about themselves when Yelp has a screening process to figure out what is fake and what is real.  The Boston study has found that people who face more regional competition are more likely to write fake reviews about themselves to boost their reputation and bad reviews about competitors within the area, and that ethics really plays no part in it at all. 

The power of these online websites has surprisingly risen over the last few years. We always make an attempt to try to find out where new eaters are coming from, and typically our staff finds out that 75% of our out-of-town customers have read about us on an online review. At the Uptown, we take our patrons' reviews seriously and put much time and effort into ensuring that we can please anyone and everyone.

While we can never receive high praise from every single customer that walks through the doors, we do our absolute best to try and have everyone leaving satisfied and full. We can proudly say we do not partake in "astroturfing," but we are fully aware that the power of the people and its effect on business should not be taken lightly.

As these online review websites increase in popularity, it fully comes down to whether we can give the best dining experience possible, and we ensure you that our staff is fully dedicated to that task!

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