The review site Yelp has been interesting to watch over time. It gets a lot of interest from different businesses like Google who was interested buying it. Then it gets more investment from VC’s when those deals don’t pan out. It has been vilified for business practices and then has worked to make the service more ‘balanced’ as well. Regardless of your point of view of the service it certainly has established itself as the leader in the small business online review space. This month’s Inc. magazine’s cover story is on the service (take note of the what not to do story that opens the piece ….. creepy.)
Now Yelp is looking to make the service even more interesting by adding a location based feature that allows reviewers to show how many times they have “checked in” to a location that they have reviewed. Mashable tells us more
Last week, the battle for your check-ins took an interesting new turn as Yelp rolled out a set of location features for its iPhone app. Today, Yelp’s expanding the feature to include check-in information alongside user reviews on its website.
With that small step, you can see exactly why check-ins are such a big deal for Yelp and a big threat to upstarts like Foursquare and Gowalla. We’re told that Yelp just passed nine million reviews, and now, with the ability to connect check-in data to individual reviews, the company is hoping to add further credibility to its users’ ratings.
According to the article this feature is only available for iPhone apps but versions for Android, BlackBerry and the like are on the horizon. Here’s a look at how these check-in appear in a review.
They also show up in a user’s profile by their reviews. This is important because it gives some level of participation to the site by giving users the ability to add more depth and credibility to their reviews if they have repeatedly “checked in” from that location.
Mashable’s Adam Ostrow makes an interesting observation about this feature as it relates to the level of competition this service could provide to a much smaller high flyer of late, Foursquare, which is a location based ‘game’.
……..the most interesting aspect of Foursquare is not the game, but seeing where your friends are, and Yelp’s doing that too. Given Yelp has a big headstart, it’s hard not to see it representing a big threat to the startups — though Facebook and its expected location features still loom large as well.
I am not a participant in any of these location-based activities personally. There are a lot of reasons for it and I explain a few here. Whether I use it or not though is obviously not the point. There appears to be a real growing wave of moving toward filling this apparent obsession of knowing where everyone is at all times and letting them know where you are. It’s like a location tweet of sorts.
As marketers, there could be tremendous value that will be discovered with time. Who will be the players that really take advantage of it and allow themselves to ‘stub their toes’ early on in the ‘monetization of location’ game should be fun to watch.
Are you seeing any real effective early adopters marketers who leverage location based services out there? Do tell.