Twitter Facebook LinkedIn Flipboard 0 What do you think of when you think of a site like Yelp? Most likely you think about using it when you are visiting a new city and you have an empty belly. Visiting Yelp can give you a good idea of what other people have experienced at the restaurant in question. Along with hours of operation, contact information, and a menu, Yelp provides users with all customer reviews, both good and bad. Using all of this information together, you can get a pretty good idea about whether or not you want to visit that eatery or not. According to Harvard Business Review, Yelp is also starting to get used in a different way, and one that may actually be even more useful for possible patrons. Some city governments are starting to use Yelp to rate restaurants on an A-F scale. Unlike customers who may rate a restaurant based on objective food preferences or wait time, city governments can rate restaurants based on factors like hygiene. The article notes, “In some cities, letter grades from A to F are posted at restaurants for would-be diners to see. This can be effective: After such a policy was enacted in Los Angeles, restaurants improved their hygiene, and food-illness hospitalizations declined.” This use of Yelp by local governments may be the cusp of a new trend where social media evolves to become an actual tool that governments at any level can use to spread important information. As HBR points out, “Why not disclose data about dentists’ quality and regulatory compliance via Yelp? Why not use data from TripAdvisor to help spot bedbugs? Why not use Twitter to understand what citizens are concerned about, and what cities can do about it? Uses of social media data for policy, and widespread dissemination of official data through social media, have the potential to become important means of public accountability.” If you are on the business side of things, this concept likely raises many questions for you. How can you be sure that the information being posted is definitely coming from the government, for example? How can you make sure your competition doesn’t take advantage of information before you have a chance to react to it? What if a government official has a beef to settle with your restaurant and decides to settle it via social media (hey it could happen)? These are all valid concerns, but HBR also makes an important point. “According to the Centers for Disease Control, more than 48 million Americans per year become sick from food, and an estimated 75 percent of the outbreaks came from food prepared by caterers, delis, and restaurants. By partnering with social-media sites to provide digital disclosure, municipal officials can improve these numbers. They can also reduce costs and display information in ways that are easier for citizens to find and absorb.” That possible benefit certainly seems worth the risk. What do you think about the possibility of government officials using social media sites to share important information with the public? Is it a positive or a negative? We’d love to hear from you! [Photo Credit: Justgrimes] Twitter Tweet Facebook Share Email This article originally appeared on Marketing Wisdom for the 21st Century and has been republished with permission.Find out how to syndicate your content with B2C Author: Kane Pepi Kane Pepi is an experienced financial and cryptocurrency writer with over 2,000+ published articles, guides, and market insights in the public domain. Expert niche subjects include asset valuation and analysis, portfolio management, and the prevention of financial crime. Kane is particularly skilled in explaining complex financial topics in a user-friendlyView full profile ›More by this author:VoIP Basics: Everything Beginners Should Know!Bitcoin Investment, Trading & Mining: The Ultimate Guide for BeginnersIs This a Better Way to Set Your 2020 Goals and Resolutions?