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The Juicy Update from Yelp and why it Matters Locally

6 August 2014
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We just can’t Yelp it! There is something awesomely annoying about snapping photos of your perfectly plated meal. If a picture is worth a thousand words, what kind of impact will you get from a 12 second video?  How do you explain the “experience” or how loud the rowdy bar is on a Tuesday?  Yelp.com (founded in 2009, now spanning 26 countries) has released a new video feature to its mobile users.  Starting last week, Yelpers can add a 3-12 second video to a review in order to chronicle an experience from a customer’s point of view. Here’s an example of a unique dining experience.

 

How It Works

The Video Review

The Theory

Yelp’s mobile product manager tells Business Insider the thought behind the feature — which allows people to add short video clips to their reviews — is to give readers information that couldn’t be captured in photos or words.

“It will be a reward for businesses that go to great lengths to achieve a certain ambiance, whether by having a certain lighting or the music at just the right level,” says the product manager.

Right now, 70% of Yelp’s photo uploads come from mobile, with 23,000 mobile photos uploaded per day. Now you can capture the true meaning of “ear-splitting” shrieks from the locals at the sports bar, or highlight the soft, tinkly piano and warm lighting at your favorite cubbyhole off the beaten path.

It also means we can all look forward to the glow of even more screens at the dinner table.

Is Yelp Coming to a City Near You?

Wilmington, NC is home to SayItSocial HQ; and we’re surrounded by beaches, businesses, restaurants and tourists! The largest review categories on Yelp are Shopping and Restaurants totaling 42% of all reviews. In 4th place you’ll find Home and Local Services at 11%. If 98% of local Yelp searches lead to a purchase, why isn’t every Wilmington business leveraging Yelp?

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You can search businesses in nearly every city, however you may have noticed some cities yield more concentrated results than others. Yes, there are more people, more restaurants and thus more reviews, but there is more to it.

Yelp has a network of community managers placed in viable markets.  Lauryn Colatuno Yelp NC Triangle as Community Manager in July 2013 to encourage the growth of the Yelp community and help connect users both online and off. If a Community Manager is placed in Wilmington in the future, he/she will fill the same role. Lauryn held an event at The Melting Pot in Mayfair to kickoff new relationships with Port City businesses.

“Yelp provides a huge benefit to small businesses in Wilmington and beyond. A recent Boston Consulting Group study found that small businesses with a free business owner’s account saw an average of $8,000 in annual revenue from Yelp (more info here).” –Lauryn Colatuno

Many businesses are already on Yelp thanks to its loyal customers. How can you harness the power of customer satisfaction? Yelp’s answer is to advertise. Although, Yelp is struggling with legal ramifications for allegedly bullying business owners into buying ad space by filtering/removing select reviews. While this is yet to be proven, it still has some business owners a little leery about investing. We reached out to Yelp’s PR Team. Here is their response:

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There has never been any amount of money a business can pay Yelp to manipulate reviews, nor does our automated recommendation software “punish” those who don’t advertise. An independent study conducted by Professor Michael Luca of Harvard Business School supports this. Yelp has an automated recommendation software in place which is engineered to highlight the most useful and reliable content to consumers who visit the site. Our stance is quality over quantity and we currently recommend about 75% of the reviews that are submitted.”

If you’re not ready to fully invest in Yelp advertising, we have some advice for local businesses to get the most out of Yelp’s loyal following.

About 79% of the reviews on Yelp are three stars or higher, but every business out there will likely receive negative feedback at some point because it’s impossible to please 100% of the people you deal with 100% of the time. That being said, here are some Lauryn’s top four best practices for reputation management:

  1. Start with great customer service– Generally speaking, most successful businesses place an emphasis on making sure their customers feel great after they walk out the door. According to this Forbes article, due to the popularity of social media, business owners should “treat their customers as if they were newspaper reporters.”
  2. Stay cool– If you find yourself getting too emotional over your reviews, you may not be the best person to respond. Try appointing an office manager, or employee you trust as the point person to manage your online reviews. Also note that if you see a review written by someone with an “orange head” and no friends, it may not be worth losing sleep over. Consumers on Yelp naturally gravitate to reviewers who have an established presence, and that’s generally where your time is best spent, too.
  3. Respond diplomatically– Use Yelp’s free review response tools at biz.yelp.com to join the conversation about your business. You can respond privately or publicly, but always take the high road. If you feel like a review goes against Yelp’s terms of service, you also have the option of flagging it for evaluation by our user support team.
  4. Implement feedback– Online reviews can help savvy business owners figure out what they’re doing well, and what they can improve on. We’ve met with several business owners who go over Yelp reviews with their employees during staff meetings, and implement constructive feedback accordingly.
Food For Thought:

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Are you a Yelper? Weigh in below and let us know how you benefit from Yelp in your local market. 

About Mandy Curtin

With a blend of digital marketing, PR and social media experience, Mandy brings to the table a fresh, creative approach to our clients’ needs. When she’s not brainstorming for digital domination or expanding her social toolbox, you’ll find exploring the outdoors or enjoying live music. Please connect with Mandy Curtin on Google+

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