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Use Social Media Review Site Yelp to Your Advantage

One of the most important components of social media for businesses is the peer-to-peer review. Yelp is one of the most popular review sites.

Although Yelp started by listing and allowing users to post restaurant reviews, the site has expanded to cover all sorts of retail businesses (and professionals) in their local consumer-generated reviews. People regularly go to the site for person-to-person recommendations.

In the first quarter of 2012, Yelp quoted a reach of 71 million visitors per month and listed a startling 27 million reviews. During the same time period, their mobile app was used by approximately 6.3 million unique devices.

People check Yelp loyally and regularly to select places to visit. True to the site’s roots, the two most popular categories are restaurants and retail shopping.

Yelp.com currently offers business reviews in most major cities in the United States and is expanding rapidly. When you visit Yelp for the first time, you may be surprised to see that your business is probably already on the site; Yelp gets its listing information from many sources.

When someone chooses to review your business listing, she can leave a commentary-style review and post a rating of one to five stars. The rating at the top of the page reflects an average of the ratings your business has received from each person’s review.

Set up an account on Yelp

Yelp can help you build exposure for your company, monitor public opinion of how you’re doing, and facilitate research as to what your local community wants from an organization like yours. To set up a free business account, visit the Yelp for Business Owners Support Center.

The basic account enables you to do the following:

  • Communicate with your customers: Yelp allows you to answer your customers privately or on the public page for your business, for all to see. Because engaging customers is what the online world is all about, a personal message (as well as responses to some on the public page) to each reviewer will go a long way toward building your transparency and loyalty.

  • Set up a profile page: Take note that this profile page is about your business and requires you to include all pertinent information. Yelp’s administration page for company owners gives you a ton of choices for sharing your business information with your customers.

    Be precise and honest, so that prospective customers will know exactly what to expect when they walk in your door, whether bricks-and-mortar or digital. Be sure to mention anything that makes your business special — any information that might convert a website browser to a regular, paying customer. Be sure to keep the information you provide up to date.

  • Get access to Yelp metrics: Track how users are engaging with your listing on the site. A graph of user views tracks traffic to your Yelp page from mobile devices so you can see from where people query your business.

    You also can view the number of mobile check-ins (when customers use the app to report that they’re at your place of business), calls to your business from the site, requests for directions to your location, photos uploaded, clicks from Yelp to your site, and more.

  • Add extras to your profile: You might include photos, a detailed business description, updated information, a company history, or a list of your specialties.

  • Receive review alerts: When your business page is updated with a new post, Yelp sends you an e-mail alert so you don’t have to check your page every day.

  • Offer special discounts to Yelp users: These discounts should be valuable enough to persuade someone to come to your business. Direct these discounts specifically at Yelp users.

  • Announce upcoming events: Yelp gives you 140 characters to announce a company-sponsored event. Use your marketing skills here to craft an appealing title. Make your statement read like a tabloid newspaper headline and be sure to include a shortened URL to link to a page where users can access further information.

The site sends out a weekly e-mail newsletter to its users as a local edition. After you set up a business page, the posts you provide — announcements, discounts, or in-store events — may just land you a personal space in the Yelp newsletter. In addition, your paid advertising discounts may pop up on other local profile pages, as in the AJ Bombers listing shown in this figure. AJ Bombers reviews are so positive that they may outweigh any competitors’ ads posted on their Yelp page.

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Should your business offer a Wi-Fi connection to your customers, it’s a smart idea to place a tent card on the table that mentions your Yelp business URL along with your other social network affiliations.

Advertise on Yelp

Advertising on Yelp costs between $300 and $1,000 per month — consider the advertising an entrée to a premium account. Your ads appear at the top of the list when users perform a search related to your business. Your ads are also positioned on pages of nearby businesses. Note that competitors’ ads will not be placed on your listing page.

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