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Deceit by Tweet: Never Forget Yelp’s Reputation Management Power

Blog Team • February 24, 2016

Are you one of the estimated 316 million people that use Twitter monthly? If you are, you may have stumbled across the hip and clever new voice Yelp is using on Twitter. And that friendly voice could entice you to believe that Yelp is really no threat.

Think again.

Let’s explore why the company might choose to get hip on social, and why you shouldn’t be fooled by the switcheroo.

A Shifting Tone

Back in the day, Yelp’s Twitter feed was pretty conventional. Check out this Tweet from just a few months ago. It’s a pretty standard shout-out to the company’s greatness, done up with a clever little photo.

InternetReputation.com All About Yelp

These sorts of messages are designed to highlight the company’s achievements and point out the good things the company is doing. In other words, these are the sorts of messages we would encourage anyone to write up, should they want to handle a reputation management attack.

But if you check out the Yelp Twitter feed now, you’ll see posts that are much less traditional. Consider this one, which plays off of an online rumor that Yelp officials were planning to sue the creators of South Park.

InternetReputation.com Yelp

Notice the snarky tone and the use of hashtags. This is something personal and hip and clever. And it got a huge response. Look at all of those retweets!

Then check out this post. It’s a play on the television show American Horror Story, done in such a clever manner than people would have to dig in order to determine what in the world the writer is talking about.

Reputation Management Yelp

Insider jokes? That doesn’t seem like the work of the Yelp we once knew.

And one more example. This little gem is a completely personal point of view Tweet that doesn’t even have to do with what Yelp does as a company.

InternetReputation.com Yelp Example

There is no mention of the company in the body of the Tweet, there’s no discussion of a review of any sort, and this doesn’t even seem to be a review of a product. It is a personal opinion.

Why the Shift?

On the surface, this seems like an absolutely crazy strategy. Why in the world would Yelp go so far off message, and what could possibly be the payout for a company that throws caution to the wind like this?

I have some theories.

First of all, Yelp is considered a social site. Individual Yelpers write their own comments, in a completely unscripted manner, about the things that are important to them. That means that this is a company that should, in theory, share DNA with companies like Twitter.

And right now, the hip thing to do on social media is to “get real.” All sorts of bloggers (like this one) are encouraging businesses to develop specific social media voices to use in their channels, and they’re encouraging businesses to share stories, anecdotes and other little personal tidbits. The theory is that people like to see real data from real people, so getting real has benefit.

And let’s face it: Yelp needs the lift. According to USA Today, Yelp’s shares have fallen a whopping 70 percent in just 2 years. The company needs to change something, and shifting social might help.

Does it Matter?

But clever voice aside, nothing about Yelp has really changed. The company may be reaching out to a new audience with clever Tweets, but the company is still soliciting reviews from people who may or may not want to say nice things about your company. And, Yelp still makes it difficult or impossible for you to remove reviews that harm you.

So the new voice? It’s cool and clever.

But so is having a Yelp action plan. We can help. Contact us for more information.