Yelp’s new app finally allows users to post reviews directly from their mobile device. This feature should definitely improve the experience for the 10.4M unique monthly app users and will also mean increased feedback from Yelpers to local businesses.
Slow to Adopt Mobile Reviews
The ability to post reviews from mobile devices has been a feature that Yelp has been slow to move on. Previously, users were only able to write reviews as drafts from the app and could only post it from their PC. Back in 2009, Yelp VP of Consumer Products and Mobile Applications, Eric Singley had justified the decision as:
We occasionally hear from other passionate Yelpers on why we haven’t enabled review publishing from our mobile applications. There are several reasons why we do this…. Well imagine what it would be like if reviews were done in SMS shorthand: “OK so, IANAE, but AFAIC this place has THE best Cfood. It was gr8! ADBB.”
While in 2009 Yelp believed the decision would mean better quality reviews, it added barriers for users and that poor user experience has set Yelp’s competitors apart. As sites like Foursquare and Facebook Graph continue to gain popularity, Yelp is feeling the pressure and is changing to keep up with competitors.
Foursquare Grows as Yelp Ignored Mobile
For now, Foursquare’s tips seem to be the method of choice, as Foursquare tips continue to grow at a faster than Yelp reviews (65% vs 41% year-over-year).
With Yelp reliant on the desktop site, it’s left room for Foursquare to become direct competition. While Yelp forced users away from the app to the desktop site, Foursquare’s “tips” are designed for the mobile user. The short 140 character limit make it easy for mobile users to post, and also means that consumers looking for the perfect latte don’t need to read through pages of heavy text.
Yelp’s legacy means that the site still boasts more reviews (42.5 million compared to Foursquare’s 33 million tips), but with Foursquare’s growth it could soon beat Yelp in content volume and number of users.
Can Yelp’s New Mobile App Reverse the Change?
After seeing the growth in Foursquare tips compared to Yelp reviews, it’s obvious that Yelp needs to appeal to the mobile user to win in local search. Only time will tell if Yelp’s new app will help the site overcome Foursquare, but small businesses should expect an increase in review volume now that Yelp is allowing mobile reviews.
With so many players in local search, which networks do you see as most important for your clients?