Yelp for Small Business Owners

27 Dec

Facts:

  1. Yelp had an average of approx. 84 million monthly unique visitors in Q3 2012.
  2. Yelpers have written over 33 million local reviews.

Social media helps us to connect and communicate more frequently with others in the community. Yelp is an online tool featuring content generated by users, focused towards personal reviews based on personal experiences at local businesses, not only limited to restaurants but also dentists, hair salon, car dealers, attorneys and even churches. It is one of the best ways for local businesses with limited budget and manpower to get noticed and found by consumers.

As a business owner you need to know what people have to say about your goods and services i.e. both good and bad reviews. Online reviews are not something your business voluntarily decides to participate in or opt out. People are reviewing your products and services all the time and if you are not listening to the feedback, than you are missing on a tremendous opportunity to overcome your shortcomings and spread a good word about your business.

For example, when you go to a new restaurant and have a good experience, it is very likely that you will tell other people about the awesome food, outstanding service or the pleasing ambiance. The same goes for many other types of businesses or services, like people often recommend a lawyer to people who are looking for affordable service, great results and honest work, while someone in need of a new apartment or doctor or mechanic might ask around for recommendations. But it can work the opposite way, too. If you go to a restaurant and have a terrible experience, you may want to warn others about it. Yelp provides actual and credible testimony’s from real customers. The real challenge most business owners face is about responding to positive or negative reviews in such a way that you not only engage the reviewers or change negative experiences in to positive ones but also build goodwill.

When contacting a positive reviewer, a genuine thank you will do more good than a gift certificate, invitation to an event, special discounts or request to let their friends know about how awesome you were, etc. Anything more than a ‘thank you’ may seem a good idea but, it can also be misinterpreted as a bribe or payment for the review. The important thing to remember is that the customer already likes your business, so just use this opportunity to thank them and introduce yourself but don’t oversell yourself.

When it comes to negative reviews, it can feel like a punch on your face or sort of a personal attack. Yelp allows businesses to respond publicly and privately to user reviews. By contacting your reviewer and establishing unpretentious relationship, you can change the customer’s perspective for the better.  But, if your reviewer identifies that you are being rude, there’s a chance he or she could get angry and make the situation even worse and soon you may be all over the web for negative reasons.

Business Owner Advice: How do you respond to your Yelp reviews? 

But Yelp isn’t about just reviews: There are also events, event reminders and special offers from businesses and you can even make friends with other yelpers, just like Facebook, Google+ or MySpace. This allows you to send private messages to other users or even “follow” them, which allows you to see a specific reviewer’s posts before any others, when you are looking at a business. Yelp also organizes party’s wherein the local community managers, advertisers, people from local businesses and yelp elite squads i.e. the most active yelp users get a chance to meet each other face to face and exchange words. It gives business an opportunity to build relationships and get direct feedback and thereby improve their business processes and spread good word of mouth.

And although there are “Sponsored Results,” on the website which show up when you search for a company that has paid to include advertisements on the site, the Yelp team does its best to treat every business in a fair manner and keep an eye on any suspicious posts.

According to Yelp community manager, 50% of the users at Yelp are educated and earn more than $50K per annum. So, what business needed to know that the customers have money and are educated; you just need to unlock all the means and make optimum use of your available resources to reach out to these potential customers. Yelp exists for one purpose that is to connect people with local businesses. As a business owner, you should not only listen to people but also need to engage and manage your presence actively.

Yelp for business owners:  

http://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLB47BDAB41297CE9C

 

References:

  1. Yelp (2012, December). Support Center | Yelp for Business Owners. yelp.com. Retrieved December 2012, from https://biz.yelp.com/support/responding_to_reviews
  2. McCue, T. J. (2012, September 27). Getting Your Small Business Started On Yelp | Small Business Trends. Small Business News, Tips, Advice – Small Business Trends. Retrieved December 21, 2012, from http://smallbiztrends.com/2012/09/getting-your-business-started-on-yelp.html
  3. McCue, T. J. (2012, October 23). Yelp Review Sting Helps Consumers And Business Owners – Forbes. Information for the World’s Business Leaders – Forbes.com. Retrieved December 20, 2012, from http://www.forbes.com/sites/tjmccue/2012/10/23/yelp-review-sting-helps-consumers-and-business-owners/
  4. Fuller, John.  “How Yelp Works” 20 July 2009.  HowStuffWorks.com. <http://computer.howstuffworks.com/internet/social-networking/networks/yelp.htm> 21 December 2012.
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