Social media and consumer review websites have exploded in popularity over the past decade. We're now at a point where many individuals turn to platforms like Yelp and others to read reviews of businesses before making purchasing decisions--or even before reaching out to those businesses in the first place. This isn't altogether surprising, given that our natural herd instincts and susceptibility to social influence often drive us to think or act in the same way as others around us. Studies have shown we are more likely to appreciate a restaurant, experience, service, or product if we see other people appreciating those same restaurants, experiences, services, or products.
Yet as consumer reviews become a part of everyday decision-making, business owners are faced with the challenge of how to effectively manage their business's reputation online, both in terms of encouraging customers to leave positive feedback and (hopefully) providing products or services good enough to minimize or prevent negative feedback on these platforms.