Who Owns Your Online Reviews?

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I recently went for my annual eye checkup – I had LASIK surgery back in 1999, and I see my Dr. every year to make sure everything is still good. My ophthalmologist is amazing – not only did he do a great job (I still have 20/20 vision in both eyes) but he has a great bedside manner and is always available to answer questions.

Online Reviews - who owns them? Google, Yelp, or you?

In addition, he’s very social media savvy. After my visit, he gave me a business card that had a list of places that I could review him online, and 2 days later he sent me an email with direct links to many of his online review sites.

Obviously, I was very happy with his customer engagement skills! Of course, I gave him feedback on his Bizyhood page, but I also gave him a review on Google+ and Vitals.com. A day after giving feedback on Google+, I got this email from Google:

I found this email very confusing. Why am I getting an email from Google Maps? And why are they thanking me for reviewing Mandel Vision? Shouldn’t the thank you be from Dr. Mandel himself? When I clicked on the map it took me to my location, which has very little to do with why I reviewed Dr. Mandel in the first place.

It was a not-so-subtle reminder that online reviews from sites such as Google and Yelp are really focused on the consumer – they want (actually they NEED) consumer involvement/engagement for their revenue model to work. It really doesn’t matter as much how many businesses are engaged as long as users are interacting. So, this email is a sales pitch to ME that they want me to engage even more on Google and give lots of feedback to other businesses.

The problem is – who is taking care of Dr. Mandel and other small business owners? Who is providing THEM with tools and capabilities that let them be great online? I don’t think Google or Yelp are.

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