Holly Gerard / Posted 6.12.2012
The power of Yelp
Influencing public opinion and other perks
Yelp. You may have heard of it, you may have even used it. Whether you’re a member of this growing social media/review website or not, there are a lot of great ways for you to use it.
A little background: . Yelp is a social media review site that allows users to search for everything from restaurants to bars to hair salons in their area and to read (and to post) reviews Yelp was founded in 2004 by Jeremy Stoppelman and Russel Simmons in San Francisco, California. Yelp generates around 61 million monthly unique visitors in 13 different countries.
You don’t have to become a member to read reviews and search for nearby establishments, but if you do join, you’re able to write reviews and even get a few perks.
As a member, you can write reviews ranging 1-star (being the worst) to 5-stars (being the best). You can post tips about businesses, send compliments, and even send private messages. Once you really get into it, you may be able to join the ranks of the Yelp Elite status.
Yelp Elite is a nomination of sorts where members can be recommended to the staff of Yelp for being an active “yelper” who has a real photo and uses a real name in his or her profile. These Elite members are invited to secret “Elite only” parties and activities that are put on by Yelp, taking the social media aspect to another level and making it much more real.
Members mouth off
I first joined Yelp in January 2009 and have enjoyed my experience with it thus far. I have even met a few folks I now call friends from Yelp, by meeting them through the Yelp events and enjoying many of the same local establishments. Yelp is a fantastic network with people from all walks of life, who enjoy mouthing off (both good and bad) about the places where they live and visit.
As a Yelp member, it is interesting to see it grow and how much impact it actually has on local businesses. I see a lot of businesses have the “People love us on Yelp” stickers proudly displayed on their front window or doors, and a lot more business owners are becoming more willing to interact with customers on Yelp.
Bad reviews and bad blood
Some businesses, however, don’t like the attention from Yelp reviews, claiming that the reviewers are just “bored, jobless layabouts with not many friends who are convinced that they're going to have a bad time before they even step through the door of a joint.” That was an exact quote from a local Denver restaurateur.
Whenever opinions are involved, someone is bound to get angry.
I have a job thank you very much, and I generally don’t go into a place thinking I am going to have a bad time. I think most yelpers feel the same way. If I have read about a place on Yelp and I am convinced that it is somewhere I want to check out, I usually do. Most of the time it’s a good experience.
Yelp can be kind of funny in a sense, because most of the time the reviews you read for your favorite restaurant or establishment wind up being similar to your personal opinion. Once in a while though, you’ll come across a 1-star review of a place that you love and wonder why. What made their experience so much different that yours?
This is why so many businesses get upset about Yelp. A lot of them have a hard time relying on the Yelp reviews as “actual reviews, from actual people” and sometimes wonder if someone wrote up a bad review of a business just to be spiteful.
"Yelp is supposed to be about authentic experiences, and not pointless spite."
Thankfully, Yelp has recently created an automatic filter for just these types of incidents. Yelp is supposed to be about authentic experiences, and not pointless spite. If you are a user with an account that has less than five reviews and no photo, your review (usually) automatically gets filtered out and hidden from the overall review of a particular establishment.
Bad reviews aside, Yelp has plenty of incentives for businesses as well. Paying attention to Yelp reviews can really help business owners connect with their customers and grow their base. Some businesses even host special events for the Yelp community like a Yelp Elite event or an all Yelp member event.
Social media is all about making connections, and Yelp is a great way to connect your online life with real world experiences. It’s also a great way to find a tasty new burger joint or awesome new pub.
Yelp - http://www.yelp.com/about
Westword - http://tinyurl.com/78nk7mn