One of the common metrics around consumer generated content on the web is that 1% of Internet users generate content and the other 99% consume it.
So, let’s look at this from the perspective of Yelp. We did some research but weren’t able to get all the numbers we were hoping to, maybe some of you out there can help us.
- Based on their last quarterly report, Yelp has 61 million reviews on their site.
- Average monthly unique visitors is 138 million.
- Yelp filters approximately 25% of their reviews.
- If we apply the 1% rule and the 25% filter to these numbers, we see that 1.38 million people leave reviews and there are about 46 million unfiltered reviews on the site. Not bad.
But what about reviews from Yelp Elite members? I was reading about life as a Yelp Elite and what an outsider thinks of a Yelp Elite event recently. It dawned on me that Yelp Elite members write hundreds (if not thousands) of reviews, and that they have events specifically catered for them, in the hopes that they will write a great review for that business.
It got me thinking – how many reviews on Yelp are from Yelp Elite members? If you eliminate those, how many of the 46 million reviews come from “regular” people? And thus, how many of the 1.38 million people are “regular” people?
I’m not even that concerned about the businesses “buying” Yelp Elite reviews by hosting these lavish events – given the number of reviews you have to give in order to become Elite, I’m assuming that a small number of the reviews come from these events. But that’s not the point. The point is that Yelp and other largely trafficked sites are supposed to be giving us the “wisdom of the crowd” – that you can simply rely on the rating of a business if there are enough reviews simply because enough people can’t be wrong. But what if the people are always the same people? Then isn’t it really like any formal review business (like Zagat’s in the old days) where businesses would go crazy trying to satisfy the lead critic in hopes that she would write a great review of your business? Except now, it’s the Yelp Elite folks that are the lead critic?
We looked around for a while to get numbers on how many Yelp Elite members there are and how many reviews they have contributed to the site, but could not find anything reliable. This article indicates that Yelp doesn’t publish information on Elites. If anybody has verified numbers, we’d love to see them.