Yelp, Facebook reviews: study analyzes how and what reviewers say

Posted at 4:44 AM, May 04, 2017
and last updated 2017-05-04 08:39:12-04

Yelpers who share their reviews on Facebook post more often and are more emotional, according to a study conducted by ASU researchers. 

Yelp began integrating with Facebook in 2009. Reviewers can link their account and post to both platforms at once. 

“At first, when we started this project, we were really interested in ... once your friends kind of can see what you're writing...will you write differently?” said Assistant Professor Kevin Hong. 

Hong and his team randomly selected 4,000 restaurants in New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Philadelphia — then used text-mining software to calculate emotional, cognitive and negation — or disagreeing — wordage. 

“Users are more likely to not say curse words. They are less likely to show disagreements,” Hong said. “[Yelp] always want more content to their websites. On the other side. they want content that's objective. Content that's not emotional. So this is kind of an introduction of a Facebook integration. It's kind of a double-edged sword.”

Hong believes the fact reviewers — known as Yelpers — are aware their reviews will be shared with friends through Facebook, what and how they write is different. 

“When people know there are other people watching them, or reading their comments, they are more likely to be conscientious of that and therefore they are more likely to not say something weird, or say something that offensive to other people,” he said. 

ABC15 spoke with ‘Elite’ Yelpers who are nominated on the platform and, in most cases, have written several hundred reviews. 

“I always post an honest review — it’s honest based on the whole entire experience,” said Paula Emeigh. 

“We obviously look at the parking situation — we look at the decor, the service, the presentation of the food and definitely how good or how bad it is.”

Emeigh says while she understands the pressure Yelpers may feel to ‘tone down’ their reviews in front of people they know — especially those working in the restaurant industry — she encourages her fellow writers to be authentic, no matter the reaction.