Yelp has become a powerful local business tool. It has been instrumental in the field of tourism. Consumers looking to get the 411 on a local restaurant or where to find the best hotel always turn to the directory service.
Yelp offers its web visitors search capabilities for any local region’s resources. One simply inputs an address, neighborhood, city, state, zip code or any combination thereof. Yelp will locate whatever you’re looking for, whether it’s a rare record store or a popular pizza parlor. The site will also give you information such as hours of operation, if there’s parking and a rating based on five stars.
As opposed to a commercial or advertising product, Yelp is more of a community driven service than anything. It can be invaluable to small and local businesses that hope to maintain a presence in the all-important Internet environment. Business owners can personally keep their listing updated in real time. Yet, Yelp maintains a certain level of security and honesty by not giving owners the ability to delete or change any facts that the site’s moderators haven’t investigated and approved. This is instrumental in preventing overzealous and fraudulent information from both getting on the site, or businesses removing data they’d rather not have in their profiles, such as negative customer reviews.
Reviews are what truly set Yelp apart. Probably its most influential feature is the functionality that allows members to leave reviews of services rendered that cannot be altered by the businesses. Moderators do not govern what reviewers say. As long as reviews are honest and respectable, Yelp will put it on the site.
That gives Yelp the distinct characteristic of letting its visitors know that out of six local bars, the one that’s most likely to promise the best service is six blocks away, based on what other customers are saying. Yelp encourages visitor comments through a number of incentives. The reputation system lists and grades reviewers based on popularity, length of membership, their prolificacy and interests. They have an award system in place for users that open any forum with the first review. Yelp is social media working to create a culture that encourages businesses to perform at their best.
Business owners can respond to reviews, but they cannot alter them. This creates a level of honest customer participation that is unequaled. Of course, that means businesses want to get the best possible reviews that drive customers to sample their services and products. That means building a solid reputation and, here is the difficult part, getting consumers to leave a review on Yelp.
At one point, the site was getting close to 40 million unique visitors a month. That means consumers are definitely using Yelp regularly. Yet, like YouTube, it’s easy to get lost on the site. Significance is built on ratings, reviews and views. Your business might end up on a generated Yelp list. Yet, if you have no reviews and the other guys have 20 to 30 raves, it’s likely a consumer will pick one of the other guys.
To maximize your presence on Yelp, it’s going to take great recommendations and, for the most part, it’s going to take a lot of them.
There are a few ways to encourage customers to leave reviews on Yelp and help increase your chances of driving potential new customers to your business.
- Suggest customers visit your page. There is nothing wrong with this. Tell them how much you’d appreciate it if they left a review. But now you’re obligated to make sure they receive an unparalleled service.
- Respond to reviews. Let your customers know you care. Nothing can brand loyalty than a business letting its clients know their voice is being heard.
- Promote your page. Use Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media platforms to encourage customers to visit your Yelp page.
- Post positive Yelp reviews. The same way a restaurant posts positive newspaper reviews in their windows, do the same with Yelp reviews. This will give people an idea of what other customers are saying about the business. It might encourage them to visit Yelp and leave a review as well.
- Host a Yelp function. Contact a local Yelp associate and inform them you’d like to host an event. They’ll help you make the arrangements, ensuring you’ll have Yelp members there. An event will most certainly generate reviews.
- Badge your website. If you have a website, make sure to place your Yelp badge prominently on all the pages. Link it to your Yelp profile. Leave a subtle blurb that people are welcome to review your business.
- Branding. Note your Yelp membership throughout the business. If you run a restaurant, mention it in the menu. Place signage in significant areas: at the bar, on the tables, beside the hotel bed or in the bathroom.
- Professional reviews. A good start might be to buy a few reviews. People are drawn to parties. If there is activity on your page, it may encourage others to participate. One or two reviews may be enough to get things started.
- Promote on Yelp. Yelp allows business owners to place special promotions and discounts on their pages. Members searching Yelp coming across special offers, like hotel discounts or special meal pricing, will more likely select your destination from the search list. Chances are they’ll review you.
- Last, and certainly not least, always put your best service on the table. Positive reviews are only going to come from an exceptional experience. Leaving reviews has become a passion for a lot of consumers. The millions of Yelp members are more than ready to accommodate you, but make sure they’ll have something nice to say.
Everything on the above list can be done, or only a few. Do try to be practical and operate in moderation. Overwhelming any potential customers with any intent to leave a review will only lead to them not doing so or diminishing the experience. Despite any tactics that could get someone to leave a Yelp review, at the end of the day you want them to do it because they had a good time.
Yelp Hits 20 Million Reviews [INFOGRAPHIC]