Yelp Extortion: True or False?

yelpWe’ve heard it all before: a shady review site features negative reviews of your company, but (glory be!) they’ll remove them—for a price. It’s more of the same old song this week, but in a different key review site: Yelp. But they’re not taking the allegations lying down.

In a lengthy article generated from a series of interviews with local business owners (all with 3+ star reviews on Yelp), the (Emeryville, CA) East Bay Express levels some serious allegations against the local review site—offering to push negative reviews down on the page for a few hundred dollars, offering to remove negative reviews completely, moving up negative reviews for businesses that declined to use their local advertising.

Facebook, Twitter and Intentions

facebook2This has been an interesting week in social media for sure. Most of the news has been generated around Facebook and deservedly so (I guess). So to close the week it’s only fitting that this story compares Facebook (in my opinion the new F-word) and Twitter. Over at Venture Beat the comparison of these two social media forces reads like the David and Goliath story.

twitter-logoHere’s the gist. According to Compete data from January Facebook had 68 million unique visitors while Twitter clocked in at less than 10% of that (6 million). Those numbers are pretty disparate for sure. What seems to be happening though is that Twitter gets an inordinate amount of press coverage compared to Facebook and the speculation begins.

Facebook’s First Offsite Widget: Comment Box

fconnectesFirst announced in May, Facebook Connect ports your Facebook data to other sites—or, in other words, it’s a way to let visitors to your site comment with through their Facebook profiles. Facebook reported yesterday that over 6000 sites have signed on for Connect.

Facebook also announced its first offsite widget in conjunction with Facebook Connect: the Comments Box. To this point, Connect featured several plugins to extend its capabilities, but this is its first full widget.

fconnectcommentsboxAny guesses what the Comments Box is for? No? FB explains:

The Comments Box is a great way for any website, blog or photo gallery to add social comments to their page in just a minute with a few lines of code.

So if you always wanted your website to look like your Wall, you’re in luck.

Social Media and Sacrifice

Facebook has had quite a week. If it is true that there is no such thing as bad publicity then this week has been a social-media-collagewindfall for the social networking giant. I have even read some conspiracy theorists who believe that the whole terms of service ‘incident’ was intended. I’m not sure I can go there but to be honest it does make some sense. The amount of new traffic and new visitors compared to those who may have de-Facebooked themselves is probably significant. Many fence sitters may have gotten curious enough to finally check it out while those who left had grown weary of it in the first place. It’s the classic case of so many theories and so little time.

Why the Social Media Genie Isn’t Going Back in the Bottle

By Jim Tobin

A couple of weeks, ago, Geoff Livingston wrote a post called “What Will You Do When Social Media Isn’t Special Anymore?” While I agree with part of his premise (that social media won’t remain the shiny new object forever), the other part (that traditional agencies will soak up the social media work) is simply wrong. Here’s why:

Historically, specialists stick around

Geoff argues that once the PR, advertising and interactive agencies figure this all out, they’ll take the work back. This should be true, but it never is.

  • 1996: “Once advertising agencies figure out HTML, they’ll do all the web development. These interactive agencies will be absorbed.” Should’ve been true. Wasn’t.
  • 2000: “Once the interactive agencies figure out the tricks of SEO, specialists in search engine optimization will go away.” Again, didn’t happen.

Mobile Ads Stick

According to a study released today by eMarketer, and reported on, mobile ads perform better thaniphone ads on other media. With all the bad news about advertising this is a bit of a breath of fresh air. The data was put together by eMarketer based on aggregated findings from social network Limbo and research firm Gfk NOP , which surveyed mobile users. Overall, it appears as if iPhone users are the leaders of the pack in responding to these ads. Whether they buy anything was not revealed.

The mobile ads apparently stayed longer in the heads of those viewing them and they did take click through actions more often. Some other highlights of the report include:

Antitrust Suit Filed Against Google

gavelWe’ve heard the rumors for a long time—the government is eyeing Google as a monopoly. Late last year, the Department of Justice was allegedly hours away from filing an antitrust suit against the search giant, stopping only because Google reneged on its planned ad deal with Yahoo.

But it looks like they might not have to wait for another such pending deal—a company called is now suing Google in an antitrust filing. A subsidiary of, explained its case in a press release (emphasis added):

Google refused to stop engaging in predatory conduct to block search traffic by imposing massive, unjustified price increases. Google’s anticompetitive conduct eliminated TradeComet as a competitor.