Customer feedback like you've never "seen" before

Yelp is adding video options to its reviews of businesses of all shapes and sizes.

Video capture and playback of Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, CA through the Yelp iPhone app
Video capture and playback of Yerba Buena Gardens in San Francisco, CA through the Yelp iPhone app

Earlier this year, social media buzzed about the news that globally recognized review platform Yelp would be adding video options to its reviews of businesses of all shapes and sizes. The feature was opened to any Yelp user this week, as announced on the company’s official blog.

For those of us who track mentions of brands of all shapes and sizes, this is an interesting addition to the world of social media. While myriad alerts and measurement services have made keeping tabs on reviews and commentary by fans, customers, and prospects a lot easier, much of that content is still primarily text. As such, it’s a lot more easily filtered and reviewed, essentially at the pace of whatever service you use – or your speed of reading – something that won’t be applicable for video clips of restaurants or retail locations.

If anything, this feature’s release should grab the attention of anyone who is relying, predominantly, on third-party services to track mentions and provide "direction" on what needs to be addressed and what doesn’t. Again, this does not mean there aren’t a number of fantastic products and services we should be using to do our jobs better, but like media lists and other research-based activities that communicators need to do, there’s zero substitute for personal attention.

As someone who has spent the better part of the last decade weaving social/digital into communications, I consider it my responsibility to always provide colleagues and team members with the best recommendations and "tools of the trade" to do their jobs. Sometimes those tools are a new application or device. Sometimes – counter to typical happenings in this ever-more-connected world – it’s their own eyes and ears that need to be employed in a different way, or at least more frequently than they had been.

On a somewhat related note, you may have seen that anonymous Craigslist posting making the rounds this month discussing how review sites are complaining about service time in a "busy NYC restaurant" not being as good as it used to be. The reason? People on their cellphones.

Whether this is a "true" story or simply a fanciful one doesn’t matter. Anyone who goes out to a restaurant nowadays knows it’s not out of the realm of possibility that the "data" shared in that post is real. One can only expect this "trend" will continue, especially as people evolve from taking a photo of their favorite sushi dish into showing a short clip of the "ambience" of the new hotspot in town. All of this creates more work for those restaurateurs, both on the floor and afterwards, as they have to keep track of what was, ten years ago, water-cooler conversation.

What does all of this mean? Even in the budget-crunched environment the communications industry always seems to find itself in, there’s no scrimping on proper use of our teams’ resources – in this case, time. There’s no "service X doesn’t track this" excuse that’s valid. We all have to be diligent about ensuring our colleagues know the best way to service the organizations they work for and protect.

Tom Biro is VP of Allison+Partners' Seattle office. His column focuses on how digital media affects and shifts PR. He can be reached at or on Twitter @tombiro.

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