Pay the Community forward – Yelp Style?

I was recently alerted to this terrific post where Spike Jones defines a brand ambassador (via Ben McConnell) — keywords include passionate, loyal, loud advocate, goodwill spreader! It goes on to conclude that “is personal and fulfilling for that person who is NOT there for PR or to push product, but to spread the love, per se.” I couldn’t agree more with Spike.

I’m sure Heather Green from Business Week would agree too!

Last week, Business Week ran an article by Burt Helm (Heather’s colleague) about Yelp. I’m sure most of you have heard of, a web 2.0 version of Zagats meets MySpace. The article talks about how is:

…using a small part of the $16 million in venture capital they’ve raised to create a sophisticated system of compensation that could create a model for building buzz around a fledgling Web site—or test the limits of paying users to contribute online content.

While Jeremy Stoppelman (founder – yelp) insists that the job in question (marketing assistants) only help with

…getting the ball rolling in a new markets only. Because these are untouched markets there is little/no community and thus very little user to user interaction relative to our major markets. The program is phased out as soon as a community starts to form…

Heather Green believes that:

one of the tenants that buzz marketing needs to follow is transparency. The Word of Mouth Marketing Assn. (WOMMA), for instance, mandates full disclosure.

The reason for all this furore:

Two marketing assistants interviewed by said that while they would tell anyone who asked that they worked for Yelp, they didn’t always disclose it when interacting with users.

What do my fellow community enthusiasts think? Jeremiah? Mack? Damon?

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  1. Mario Sundar

    Hi Gavin,

    Yes, it’s too bad that community is being paid for, but the question I’ve been asking is this?

    Is Yelp going after true Yelp evangelists and paying them to talk or are they going to just about anyone and asking them to act as evangelists; the latter being far more dangerous than the former.

    What do you think?

  2. Gavin Heaton

    Really you would think they would know better … but some still believe the all publicity is good publicity. But this goes to the heart of community building … where is the trust?
    Of course people will begin to ask this question themselves, and move to the next … “is this the kind of community I want to belong to?”

  3. BrainBasedBusiness

    Stories Boost the Business Brain

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