Blog post

Digital natives as customers and critics

22 Nov 2008

Aside from being innovators themselves, Digital Natives are also forcing businesses to innovate. The entertainment industries, confronted with the breakdown of traditional distribution models for music and movies, are one particular striking example. But this is also true on a more microlevel even for local businesses. Let's take Yelp as an example.

A website for user-generated reviews of local businesses, Yelp started in the San Francisco area and has since spread to every major US city and dozens of smaller ones. The social networking aspects of Yelp, which allowed users to interact and essentially review the reviews, catapulted it into popularity. It currently boasts 16 million unique visitors per month and personally, Yelp has become my de facto guide to the city. When I headed to Chicago on my own for two months this summer, I didn't buy a single guide book, confident that I could find my way around with Yelp and Google Maps.

When Yelp becomes such a popular authority on local businesses, they start paying attention. For local businesses that especially rely on word of mouth, the site is probably the best place to take the pulse of customers. For Digital Natives, Yelp provides a forum for feedback and participation. Businesses themselves would be wise to join in on this conversation.

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