Yelp is looking for a few good small business owners.
Last week, the beleaguered online review site announced changes to the way it works in hopes of stemming legal complaints and allegations of extortion from small companies.
Businesses will no longer be allowed to choose which reviews appear at the top of listings, and the site will allow users to see every review, not just those the company has filtered out. The company is also assembling a Yelp Small Business Advisory Council – apparently hoping to hear more about concerns before they reach class-action-suit levels. (To hear more about Yelp's changes, click here to listen to a Duct Tape Marketing podcast with Luther Lowe, Yelp's business outreach manager.)
Blogged Yelp's CEO Jeremy Stoppelman: "[I]n an effort to more formally integrate feedback from the business community, we've created a Small Business Advisory Council whose members will provide Yelp management with guidance and perspective regarding the concerns of small business owners."
The six-year-old company also sent out an e-mail to businesses with Yelp accounts, explaining more about the council: "YSBAC will be composed of 10 members representing diverse geographies and industries. The group will serve for an annual term. In addition to regular correspondence with Yelp's executive team, the council will be relied upon to provide valuable input on changes to Yelp. We hope you're as excited about this development as we are, and if you have some ideas for how Yelp can better serve the business community, we hope you'll consider applying." (Interested? Click here to submit an application.)
Wednesday, the company posted much of the text of the letter on its blog, so it's clearly still looking. A few added details: Council members will "have regular correspondence with Yelp's executive team," and meet with members of Yelp business units to have their say on existing features and policies and those in development. (No word on whether YSBAC members will receive any kid-glove handling when it comes to reviews.)
There's no deadline listed, but selections are set to be announced May 14.