In Social Media terms, we often talk about the big sites: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+, and Instagram. We don’t often talk about Yelp. To be fair, Yelp isn’t Social Media the same way these other sites are but it is still “social” and is still modern “media”.
Yelp is a great tool to further expand your word-of-mouth marketing! And, as such, it should be a coveted tool in your Social Media strategy.
First let’s look at what Yelp is and how it is used. Yelp is an online resource designed to help customers connect with local businesses. Business owners or managers can set up accounts for free to list their business on Yelp. Once their profile is established, customers can rate their experiences on a 1-5 star scale and include comments to support their ranking. These rankings are searchable and often come up in search engine results.
You can search for a type of business (such as “dog groomers”) which will produce matching results for all related businesses in your area. This is your opportunity to have new clients find you! You can also search for specific businesses by name (like “Top Dog Groomers”) but Yelp will also display other related businesses in the search results so even if someone is looking for your competitor, you will still show up in the results.
Simply put, Yelp is a modern day, online Yellow Pages on steroids.
Now that you understand more about Yelp, here are some of the key ways in which Yelp can be your secret weapon online:
This is where the social aspect becomes important – you are not posting the new comments, your customers are. You can reply directly to comments made by your customers though. These comments left by your customers are direct word-of-mouth referrals that other Yelp members are reviewing to decide if they want to use your company. These are unfiltered comments posted based on actual experiences with your business.
There are many business owners, including possibly yourself, who say they don’t want to be on Yelp because they’re afraid of all the negative reviews they will receive. No offense, but if you’re that worried about that many negative reviews, you need to stop reading this and start focusing on how you can improve your business and your customer service. But, yes, you will ultimately receive a mixed variety of reviews. Some will be great, some will be good, and some may even be bad. But if there are bad reviews out there, this is your opportunity to fix them!
This is one of the ways that Yelp can be your secret weapon! You now have the opportunity to see exactly what your customers think of you and your business. And if someone was unhappy, you have the opportunity to reverse their opinion!! You can reach out to that person and offer them a refund, or a discount (or even free product) on their next visit, or complimentary services in an effort to re-engage them positively.
Please remember that Yelp, much more so even than other platforms, is your opportunity to right a wrong, not make a wrong worse! Do not engage in negative behavior and comments directed towards your customer. Your comments are open to the PUBLIC. Any Yelp member can see your posts about your business so remember to treat everyone in a respectable fashion. In the event that someone is publicly attacking your company, and not merely writing a poor review, you can take appropriate action with Yelp to dispute the reviews.
Yelp currently boasts nearly 80 million visits per month and Yelp data indicates 86 million unique visitors in Q4 2012. That is a lot of people looking for local companies! If you’re not trying to capitalize on this traffic, can I ask why? Some people may come directly to your business after seeing reviews on Yelp and others may navigate to your website instead. Either way, you are generating new traffic without having to go after them directly!
When it comes to your own page, Yelp provides you with analytics that allow you to see how many views your business has received and the type of interactions you are getting. You can also find information on the regularity and longevity of the people who have made reviews. This information allows you determine who is viewing your profile and may also help you determine lead and conversion rates.
Have you every Googled your business? How about your competitors? Have you ever noticed that Yelp reviews/listings often appear in search results? They do, and people are quick to click on these reviews. If your competitor comes up and you do not, you’re losing potential customers every day. Many search results also come up with maps, contact info, and other information directly to the search engine results – making it so easy for these customers to find and reach you.
Looking forward, it’s also worth noting that when you use Siri on an iPhone, and ask to find a business, Siri is pulling data directly from Yelp. As smartphones demand more of the marketplace and searches become more dependent on technology like Siri, it will be increasingly more important for your business to be on Yelp.
Compared to all the other sites you’re using for Social Media, Yelp is very low maintenance. Once you’ve set up your profile, you’re letting the customers do your work. You will receive regular emails from Yelp letting you know your activity and if someone has posted a new review. You really only need to log on and “maintain” your profile when someone writes a review (so that you can respond) or if your information needs to be updated. You may occasionally want to add new photos or update your company bio but otherwise, regular maintenance is not required.
Some additional info and thoughts…
Yelp is traditionally thought of as being best suited for B2C businesses that are selling products or services directly to their customers. These include restaurants, boutiques (hair salons, nail salons, etc.), pet services (groomers, kennels, etc.), maintenance companies (plumbing, landscaping, auto repairs etc.), and clothing shops. While these businesses tend to receive the highest numbers of reviews and engagement, that doesn’t mean that other companies and B2B businesses can’t also do well on Yelp.
Yelp is most helpful for SMALL businesses! Let’s face it, do you need to read reviews on the big box stores do decide if you’re going to shop there or not? I doubt it. But when you’re looking for an Italian restaurant, or are in need of a new handy-man, or want to treat your mother-in-law to a spa day, do you know which companies to turn to? If not, you go to Yelp and find the ones with the best reviews and information related to what you’re looking for. So if you’re a small business looking to increase your sales and revenue, get listed on Yelp!
Now, there is some controversy about the selection of reviews that Yelp chooses to put at the top of your list. I’m not here to debate the efficiency nor the appropriateness of this algorithm. There are also concerns over Yelp advertising and the value added for purchasing a sponsorship program. Again, this post is not to evaluate the validity of the claims. It is up to you as a business owner to determine the true value of any marketing investment made on behalf of your company.
After reading all of this, I hope that you will consider Yelp as part of your Social Media strategy. If you are not already on Yelp, and want to set up a new Yelp account for your business, here are the steps to take:
- Go to https://biz.yelp.com/
- Click “Create Your Free Account Now”
- First, Yelp will have you search to see if your business is already registered. Type the name of your company and the city where you are located, then click “Search”
- Scroll down and if your business is not listed, click the option at the bottom of the page to “Add your business to Yelp”
- On the “Add Your Business” page, fill in the relevant details of your business and click “Add” when you’re all done (make sure you select a relevant category for your business industry)
- You will be emailed a verification email that will authenticate your email address and activate your account. It may take a couple of days to fully activate your account access.
- Once you have your account access, you can now view your business listing and add a profile photo and other relevant business photos. You can update your company information including your history, your specialties, and information about the business owner.
If you know of other small business owners who should consider joining Yelp, please share this post!