“Any clod can have the facts, but having opinions is an art.” — Charles McCabe.
Are you one of those people who call on the manager, after good or terrible service, to offer your feedback? Perhaps you go on Twitter to vent? The fact is we are all constantly having experiences worth sharing and our opinion is important. Customer feedback plays a major role in whether any business improves or not.
One might not immediately place Yelp and satirical columnist Charles McCabe in the same boat but they have more in common than first meets the eye. On the one hand we have Charles McCabe’s satirical column for the San Francisco Chronicle, which he wrote from the mid-1950s until his death in 1983. On the other is Yelp, a review site and app which is taking Europe by storm as it has in America. Both share a location, San Francisco, but also a theme: having opinions – and sharing them – is a worthy art.
The beauty of the above quote lies in the fact that, now, anyone can publish opinions. Gone are the days when only the privileged few could be taste-makers. Today everyone’s voice counts. In the same way that Instagram has allowed anyone with a smartphone to become a photographer, social media and online review sites have put the power in people’s palms to become writers, to influence with opinion. Art and opinion are no longer the domain of a select few; all of us can now champion our local haunts.
McCabe’s writing covered everything but the kitchen sink, bringing to life observations, places, and people right on the page with a charming wit and everyman’s warmth. Many online reviews today share that personal quality, describing places in such detail that you can imagine yourself right there, propping up the bar. Whilst McCabe was a wonderful writer, essentially, he was an everyday human being sharing opinions and this applies to us all.
Sites such as Yelp are brimming with everyday people just like Charles McCabe, who love sharing experiences, who love being the maven of their city and who gladly tap into their inner food critic to help others out. Whether reminiscing about the time they lost their wallet and their butcher let them pay another day (true story) or giving a hat tip to the latest bar to hit town, writing is good tonic for the soul.
So, where do you start? You might think that it’s all about the food world but you can review pretty much any business under the sun. From underground theatre venues to cat shelters, all and sundry are opinion-worthy. Here are five quick and easy tips for you to get involved on review sites like Yelp and tap into your inner writer:
- As with all writing, write about what you know: think about your favourite bar, your local park, where you last ate lunch.
- Be honest, be fair, and let the words come naturally. Let style form as you go; don’t try too hard.
- Start small and see where it takes you. Writing is addictive – explore your city and become the maven.
- Keep tabs on where you’ve been: Check in on social media sites and photograph everything so no detail will go forgotten.
- A picture is worth a thousand words (although a thousand words makes a great review.) People want to see what the best manicure on earth looks like as well as read about it. Place got swagger? Add a video.
Do you have an opinion? Whether you consider it art or not, it probably comes with an experience worth sharing.
Word by: Rowena Harris, Copywriter at Yelp.