Everything You Need To Know About YELP
WHAT IS YELP?
Yelp is the fun and easy way to review what's great - and not so great - in your local neighborhood and beyond.
Yelp is an online urban city guide that helps people find cool places to eat, shop for stuff, drink, relax and play, based on the informed opinions of a vibrant and active community of locals in the know.
Yelp is the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what's great — and not so great — in your world.
As of June 2011, more than 53 million people visited Yelp in the past 30 days. Yelpers have written over 20 million local reviews, 83% of them rating a business 3 stars or higher. You can access Yelp via iPhone, Android, Blackberry and more.
How Yelp's Business Works
Yelp has grown by getting users to write reviews of businesses, engaging them through social networking features, and piggybacking on search engine traffic.
Yelp users can not only search for and review businesses, but they can create a profile, ‘friend’ other users, chat in online forums, and even go to offline meet-ups.
Yelp uses Facebook to find and connect with your friends as soon as you sign up
Yelp has ~ 66 million monthly unique visitors, is used on more than 5.7 million mobile devices, and has collected a total of 25 million reviews since its inception in 2004 (see breakdown of reviews by business segment in the chart above).
But how exactly does it make money?
Yelp generates almost all of its revenue from advertising—91.4 percent for 2011. It's primarily two kinds of advertising:
Here's what it looks like:
7 Ways to use Yelp for Small Business Marketing
How It YELP Works
How Yelp Works For Your Local Business
by John Fuller
When you go to a new restaurant and have a good experience, it's likely that you won't keep the place a secret. Aft_er all, when people enjoy a great meal, exceptional service or a pleasant atmosphere, they typically make an effort to tell other people about it. Many of us, particularly city dwellers, are naturally curious about what's new, popular or just plain good around town, and sharing with others is one of the easier and more reliable ways of establishing the best locations. The same goes for many other types of businesses or services -- drivers often recommend a good mechanic to people looking for affordable, honest work on a car, while someone in need of a new doctor might ask around for recommendations.
But it can work the opposite way, too. If you go to a restaurant and have a terrible time -- maybe the food is unappetizing, or the service is poor -- you want to warn others about it. Instead of allowing your friends to suffer through an expensive meal that most likely won't satisfy, maybe you recommend they think twice about their choice of restaurant and suggest somewhere else to enjoy a night out.
Businesses live and die by this kind of communication, and now the Internet has made it even easier for word to spread quickly about the quality of all kinds of services. One of the more popular social networking sites that focuses on reviewing businesses and sharing information about them is Yelp.com. Founded in 2004 in San Francisco, Calif., the Web site is like a large online bulletin board featuring user-generated content, all geared toward personal reviews based on experiences at local businesses. Yelp takes a Web 2.0 approach to their sites, where members run the show as far as sharing, reviewing and communicating is concerned. Although the company is based out of San Francisco, its set up online communities in every major city in the United States and can be found in several other countries, too. Yelp has recently expanded its reach to Canada, Ireland and the United Kingdom.
So how does Yelp work?
by John Fuller
So how does Yelp work?
How do members use it, and what benefits does the site offer?
Anyone with an Internet connection can browse the Yelp Web site. It's easy to look through business reviews and ratings and read about other people's experiences. When you open up Yelp's home page, chances are the site will recognize the nearest major city or town to which you live and display popular locations and highlighted reviews. For instance, if you're accessing Yelp from New York City, you'll probably open up yelp.com/nyc when you type in the regular address.
But you can't write your own reviews or follow other Yelp users if you don't first sign up for, and manage, a personal account. Signing up for a Yelp account is basically like signing up for most other social networking Web sites -- to create a profile, the site needs your first and last name, your e-mail address, a password for logging in and, if you live in the United States, your ZIP code, too. If you live in Canada, you'll be asked for your postal code, in Ireland, your city/town and in the United Kingdom, you'll need to provide your postcode. Your gender and age are optional. Once you're signed in, you're officially a yelper, the common nickname for Yelp users.
Now you can review practically any establishment in your community. To write a review, users simply click on the "Write a Review" button near the top of the page. From there you can search for the establishment you'd like to review by typing in the business name and the city and ZIP code in which it's located. Once you select the business from the search results, you can click on the "Write a Review" button next to it. At the top of the review you can give the business a star rating from one to five, with one meaning "Eek! Methinks not!" (poor) and five meaning "Woohoo! As good as it gets!" (great). A text box where you can type your review is directly below, and there are optional selections that are either objective or subjective. You can give an average price range, for instance, or you can note whether or not they accept credit cards or have outdoor seating.
Benefits of Yelp
by John Fuller
Benefits of Yelp
The major benefit and main point of Yelp is the ease of communication most yelpers experience -- the site is like word-of-mouth for the digital world, and with Yelp communities popping up in most American cities and other places around the globe, it gets easier to find hot places to go to and see what other people think.
But Yelp isn't 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 or MySpace. This allows you to send messages to other users or even "follow" them, which allows you to see a specific reviewer's posts before any others when you're looking at a business. If you want to post your personal reviews on Facebook, you can import them directly from your Facebook profile -- by logging in and clicking on the settings link below the status update field, you can select "automatically import activity" to upload your most recent content and inform an even wider audience on your good taste.
And with the perception of the Internet and social networking as a place where some people go simply to troll around and start flame wars, Yelp appears to be a place where users go to give a balanced opinion about their personal experiences. For the most part, the site isn't a destination for Web surfers to rant wildly about their least favorite restaurant -- in fact, out of all of Yelp's reviews, 85 percent of them have ratings that are three stars or higher, meaning many people come to talk about their positive experiences rather than the negative ones.
And although there are "Sponsored Results," 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. Yelp also won't remove bad reviews from a sponsored businesses page, and they try to make sure employees aren't posting good reviews for the company at which they work or negative ones for competitors.
How 4 Companies Used Yelp To Woo Customers
TJ McCue Owner, TechBizTalk.com
Life for retailers used to be simpler. That was the life without customer review sites, whereas now, every citizen can poke holes in your customer service efforts. This post looks at successful approaches business owners can use to make Yelp into a marketing and sales tool, as opposed to letting it work against them.
Restaurant reviews seem to be the most popular on Yelp, but the service covers many other categories. It used to be that a restaurant or local business would only get an official newspaper review every so often, but with mobile applications and social media, restaurants are under a constant deluge of “citizen reviewers.” In fact, nearly every business faces this same sort of scrutiny and opportunity.
Some will scoff when told it is an opportunity to be reviewed. In every customer interaction, there is a lesson and a chance to shine. Review sites up the game, for sure, but if you provide honest, good service, you can thrive online and in real life.
Here are four success stories to learn from:
Bagelheads, located in Tallahassee, Florida, has 14 reviews. When the owner, Ben Giles, wasn’t as active online in 2009, there were a few not so favorable remarks. He told me that he likes those reviews, learns from them, and believes that customers can see his progression. Now that is a great attitude.
He likes that you can respond to posts directly and get a chance to give a personal feel to the customer. It shows that you care, and is useful in addressing problem areas. His advice is to use some sort of checkin reward that is visible to the customer when they see you on Yelp. They also created a scannable QR code for the website to give customers more info on their social media efforts, which include Yelp.
Findwell is a real estate brokerage in Seattle. CEO Kevin Lisota told me that it is important to hit the basics on these sites: Make sure that your business is not only listed, but that the information is accurate and completely filled out. Consumer trust increases when they can find a photo, website, e-mail address and sometimes special discount offers, rather than just a generic listing.
Their reviews have been overwhelmingly positive. Lisota said that negative reviews can be more beneficial than a great review. It teaches him and his staff new lessons and shows consumers how his business behaves when things go wrong, which is super important today.
In a Pickle
In a Pickle is a small restaurant in Waltham, Massachusetts that credits a ton of their business success to their activity and outreach to customers and fans on social media. With 173 reviews and a 4.5 star rating, owner Tim Burke is doing something right. He estimates that 30-40 percent of new business is generated through Yelp. Out of all of his activity on social media channels, he has made it a priority to make sure they have a high rating on the site. He openly says how not having a high rating on Yelp would be disastrous to his business.
Tim knows that customers who are already following him on social media are fans of his food—they wouldn't have liked his Facebook page or followed his Twitter handle if they weren't—so he leverages all of his social channels to encourage customers to review the restaurant themselves. He even sent me this tweet, where he thanked a customer.
Castle Ink is in the printer ink cartridge business, which is a pretty competitive industry. Bill Elward, president of the company, said that review sites like Yelp are a blessing in the industry. Yelp and similar sites help consumers weigh their options by providing honest feedback on quality. They are active on Yelp, Google, City Search and now credit 10 percent of all orders placed as having originated at one of these review sites.
Yelp is not just for restaurant owners. Most businesses can grow their sales and online presence with review sites like Yelp.
From almost every business owner I heard this one bit of advice--
" recognize that you are going to get reviewed whether you want it or not. Online tools such as Yelp will continue to grow in prevalence, and it pays to embrace them and participate in the active online discussion with your past, current and future customers".