In my last two columns, I talked about the growing trend of consumers rating financial advisors. I also discussed how to get started on Yelp, the largest consumer-review site available. In this column, I’d like to discuss the possibility that engaging with Yelp might become stressful — and may even damage your reputation, if you let it. So what’s the problem? Actually, experts say there are three:
- Yelp’s screening algorithm, which filters out fake or inappropriate reviews
- Their advertising sales practices, which some claim amount to extortion
- A Yelp culture that appears to encourage nasty consumer behavior
Let’s discuss each in turn, so you’ll be prepared if and when you get active on Yelp.
The filter: Yelp’s system for protecting businesses against fake or poor quality reviews is generally necessary, experts say. The problem? It can filter out reviews from legitimate users. Consequently, it’s not unusual for an advisor to build up a few dozen four- and five-star reviews only to see them be demoted to the “filtered” section over time. What gives?
Apparently, Yelp’s system screens out those users who:
- are new to Yelp (with only a few reviews to their credit).
- haven’t fleshed out their profiles (lacking a photo, personal data, or social media links).
- are overly slanted toward the positive or negative.
- write reviews lacking details.
- are likely to be unreliable (i.e., friends, employees, family of the business owner).
- have never visited or retained the business.
Knowing this will help you limit your review requests to consumers who are least likely to get screened out. Plus, you’ll be less likely to get upset if and when this happens to you.