Last month, I asked a question on Twitter: How do you decide who to contribute to? @yelp @googlelocalguides @zomato @tripadvisor I have used all for advice.

We all love reading reviews before visiting places. Tourist locations, food joints, and shopping haunts. Previews and reviews of the destination by real people and not PR spindoctors make for great insights into the unknown. Reviews get rated by other users to make them appear more discerning or accurate than the rest. (However, there have been cases of paid reviews and restaurants offering free food to get positive online ratings but those are not a common trend.)

An excellent website that I have been using lately is glassdoor.com. It lets users anonymously share reviews of workplaces under various categories including salaries and interviews. Why I used it? It gives you a sense of what to prepare for. Just like any other review app or website.

Preparedness makes it easier to choose and consume a product. Surprises are great but only if they are pleasant and exceed expectations.

Coming back to the question I asked, so if you have used all of these apps to read reviews, which one should you contribute to? Some platforms are pushing users to write more reviews by offering incentives. For example, Google is running a contest this month (of October, 2016) called the Local Guides Challenge.

Here’s what their promo email read:

Are You Up for the Challenge?
Our next Local Guides Challenge is here: from today until 28 October, every review you write and every photo you upload to Google Maps will help your city earn everlasting glory. The 5 cities that contribute the most reviews and photos this month will be invited to an epic event in their hometown. Learn more about the Challenge and spread the word using #LocalGuides.

A video about Local Guides: Note how Google wants to credit expert users for sharing insights only they have. #MarketingWin

Of course motivations to write reviews are different for different people. Some like to create good content and be opinion swayers, while other want to give back to the Internet by helping others make informed decisions. Then there are those who want to win something as simple as a badge, a better ranking on a leadership board, a point on a gamified app, or a ‘like’ for their review. To elevate users and make them know their work isn’t going unnoticed, apps have now started showing users how many times their review has been read. This number count makes users feel virtually empowered and in a sense, important.

Even a response or note of gratitude — from the owners/management of the restaurant/destination that has been reviewed — has the potential to make someone feel honored. It becomes an acknowledgement that their opinions and voices are being heard by the people who matter.

Some contributors believe an insightful suggestion might bring about some change in the form of better service or a pat-on-the-back to a worker who made them feel at home.

Yes, there are all kinds of things reviews can tell you about a place. Be it cleanliness, efficiency or nuanced details about the ambience. Some reviews could also be spurred by a disgruntled customer for a venial error. But because they are on the Internet, easily accessible and viewed by many, they become vital for a brand’s reputation.

The popularity of review apps cannot be ignored. They are fast growing and used by an increasingly mobile crowd around the world. The question is how should you choose which one to contribute to? Should one contribute to all?

Should I use the one that has a great design or the one that provides interesting listicles? Should I use the site my friends use or the site that gets me maximum follows and likes?

A quick comparison of how each of these apps/sites position themselves. Perhaps this could help users decide.

Here are the one-line bios on their Twitter pages:
TripAdvisor: Know better, book better and go better on the world’s largest travel site.
Zomato: Zomato is the fastest way to search for great places to eat around you. Serving 23 countries worldwide.
Yelp: Connecting people to great local businesses in communities around the world. Follow us for Yelpy news & insight!
Google Local Guides: Wherever you go in the world, Google Local Guides are there to help you explore on Google Maps.

MY TAKE: I used Zomato a lot while I was in India. Now I use Yelp in the US. And when it comes to international travel, Tripadvisor wins. But I like the incentives that Google is giving with the new contest. So what should I do? Perhaps contribute to the sites that have helped in their own areas of specialty? Or write for the apps to help them cover their weak coverage points?

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