Be aware, be very aware

By February 10, 2009 new orleans, weblogs
Reputation is important to most folks, and yet many don't seem to know how to manage their reputation. The first step, of course, is to become more aware of what people are saying about you.  But what does this mean, exactly? How can you become more aware?  
In the past few years this thing called The Internet has really gotten a lot of traction.  For some reason people are flocking to it, using it to share information quickly and across large groups.  Every day, it seems, the geeks who run The Internet add some new 'social networking' tool to make it easier for them to share a buzz. 

The iPhone has done much to expand the reach and power of The Internet.  When the iPhone 3G came out (with GPS), geeks were raving about something called 'location aware services.'  They wanted to be able to tap a button on their iPhone to find cool places around them. Places like restaurants, for example.

Screenshot iPhone

One of the hottest iPhone apps is this thing called 'UrbanSpoon,' which is a restaurant finder.  It works sort of like a slot machine; you 'pull the lever' and it will spin its wheels and then pick a nearby restaurant at random.  Of course, you can also just ask it to show you all the nearby restaurants. UrbanSpoon is a very popular iPhone application!

At first, UrbanSpoon didn't have a rating system, or any way for users to add their feedback on how well they liked the restaurant.  Now, they do.  In fact, iPhone users can now add pictures of the restaurant, and even take pictures of the menu. And they can use Twitter to post a 'tweet' about the restaurant (while simultaneously posting that tweet as a review on UrbanSpoon).

To use these review features you have to sign up on UrbanSpoon's webpage and create a user account. Once you do you'll be able to post reviews.  But you'll also get weekly email that tells you which restaurants in your home town are hot and which are not.  

Look at an excerpt from the UrbanSpoon email I got this morning (which is about New Orleans restaurants):

Picture 1

I wonder if the folks at Lilette and Rio Mar are aware of UrbanSpoon's review?  In my humble opinion, both of those restaurants are wonderful and don't deserve a bad review.  No doubt, if the owners were aware of this situation then they could do something to alter their standing in the UrbanSpoon ranking.
So this gets me back to my main point: awareness.  Are you aware of what is being said about your business on the Internet?  Maybe you need to increase your awareness.  Maybe you need to learn more about this strange land inhabited by geeks (but increasingly by non-geeks too).  
One thing that is really important to understand about the Internet (besides that it's not really a series of tubes) is that its growing popularity is not a fad.  It's a trend, and a very powerful one at that.
Trends are a good thing to be aware of too.

4 Comments

  • Fat lady says:

    Not only here, but in all aspects reputation is important. If you have a good reputation, everything will follow. You will gain visitors, loyal customers and friends.

  • anon says:

    And in the Washington, DC area, be sure to check out Tyler Cowen’s Ethnic Dining Guide.

    http://www.tylercowensethnicdiningguide.com

    Cowen is a professor at George Mason University and writes about little gems he’s found in northern VA, southern MD, as well as DC.

  • Robert says:

    Thanks for the link, E. It got me thinking on a few different topics. I think the problem I have with using applications like Urban Spoon (or to an extent, Chowhound and the like) is that I have no frame of reference for the people giving their opinions. It’s subject to “astroturfing” and to criticisms frrom people who have a beef with the owner, or chef, or someone else associated with the restaurant.

    I think the only thing that either Lilette or Rio Mar could do to fix the issue with Urban Spoon is to register a half dozen staff members, and have them all give positive reports of meals. That, or perhaps slightly less unethically, encourage regular customers to do the same thing.

    In the best of all possible worlds, those graphs are probably going to favor restaurants with a devoted local following. Mandina’s, for example. That may be as much an issue of New Orleans’ size as anything else; maybe in New York, or Chicago, all of the above aren’t as important due to a dramatically increased volume of feedback?

    Anyway, thanks again,

    Robert

  • anon says:

    UrbanSpoon is not the best foodie guide in large cities, Yelp is.