Business Insider is reporting a new development over at Yelp that aims to add some authenticity to a review. Elite users can expect video reviews to begin populating their listings as early as June 2014 according to a representative from Yelp. This new format means big things for Yelp’s biggest power users, with regular uses getting the feature shortly after the kinks have been worked out. Soon, users will be able to upload short video clips to a business listing. We’ve managed to get the scoop on how it works, and what users will see when the final product is released.
The Video Effect
Yelp’s product manager, Madhu Prabakar, told Business Insider that the goal is to reward businesses who work hard to establish a certain mood. Those with ambient lighting, or music that matches the vibe can get a little extra publicity boost from user submitted videos. This can also be a thorn in the side for businesses who might sleight customers (one can almost think back to the racist rants of one Dunkin Donuts customer to see how things could potentially go wrong). Still, there is promise in the new system.
How it Works
Users will have the opportunity to add a video to any reviews they make, along with photos and text. The video user interface looks like something akin to snapchat, with a wheel in the center that tells you how much time you have left to record. Yelp has set the timer to 12 seconds. I reached out to Yelp media relations and a Yelp representative told me that “3-12 seconds was really the ideal amount of time to capture necessary details that photos alone can’t capture.” So it’s not a question of bandwidth, according to Yelp, it’s a question of consumption. Considering the length of Vine posts, and the Web’s obsession with gifs, this estimate seems fair.
Once the video has completed, the user can choose a cover photo for it from the frames of the footage and complete the review.
Filtration and Viewing
So, what’s stopping someone from posting a review of risqué dancing at a club? Well, the same system that stops photos of the same nature. Yelp has vowed to filter out any “inappropriate” content. The key word being inappropriate. We’ve seen Yelp apply these filters liberally in the past, so there may be some unexpected consequences to this release that remain to be seen.
Overall, this has the potential for great things. There are some downsides, like video-taped complaints to go along with written reviews, but coupled with Yelp’s check-in system there is little doubt about authenticity here. I also feel that video complaints can help better authenticate the validity of the reviews. For example someone posting a video of an incident, can confirm that something really happened. It may also help the business owners identify who posted the video so they can contact them to resolve the issue. Video reviews may actually have a positive impact on the reputation of businesses hurt by poor text reviews. However, I am sure many business owners would also hate this new feature.
Still, one major downside is the potential for a PR firestorm. Imagine a customer video-taping a disagreement in-progress and posting it completely out of context. This behavior is certainly not unheard of on social media. Will Yelp have this problem too? Only time will tell.
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