As we have seen with blogs, the power of the Internet has changed how businesses conduct themselves with customers. One issue, though, is that blogs tend to highlight the negatives, and not the positives. But, that is just human nature. And, there are blogs that are launching to provide consumers with reviews, such as the big ones like Engadget or Gizmodo, or on a more local level, Daily Eats.
During the dot-com era, a few Websites had launched that were supposed to be places for everyday consumers to post commentary and opinions, rating products and businesses. One was Epinions, which is now part of Shopping.com. The other was PlanetFeedback, which is getting ready for a relaunch.
Part of the problem with those sites, though, is that they were concentrating on the national landscape, not the local business.In today’s New York Times is an article about JudysBook, one of a few new sites that are launching to help consumers help consumers. A good way to describe the sites are that they are social groups, with trusted reviews. You would trust your friend to tell you about a good restaurant, so you should trust your friend’s friend, right? We all want local reviews, and we want them from friends – and here’s a new (old) way to look at it.
JudysBook is not the only company in this space. There’s also Yelp and InsiderPages, but let’s keep a focus on JudysBook, since they had the PR team place the article in New York Times, and they are a good case study on how local businesses can use such services to help themselves.
Yes, help themselves with grassroots PR. Every business has a core group of loyal patrons. Reach out to those patrons, and have them join a site like JudysBook. No, I am not suggesting or condoning fake reviews, but am suggesting that a business make sure that its customers know about such sites, and to help them out by posting positive reviews and sharing the network.