Yelp & The Emergence of Review Communities

Many of us can’t imagine date night without Yelp. Sitting on the couch endlessly stumping yourself trying to mutually agree on where to stuff your face. Or in bed early morning Sunday, looking for the perfect brunch spot to meet up with your weekend crew, absolutely stumped as to what’s the best option to get you out of bed.

Then an angel emerged from the clouds (pun intended) giving us filtered results – location based, cuisine-type, and trusted reviews – to guide our decisions. And in the end, we all say one thing, “Yelp, you are heaven sent!”

We no longer have to face that purgatory of undecided dinner spots. Now all you do is hop on an app with over 25 million average monthly app users and drill down your search in a matter of seconds.

Since it’s 2004 debut, Yelp has emerged as the market leader in review communities and has shaped society and our purchasing habits ever since. More than 115 million reviews have been left on the platform to date for industries ranging from health (6%) to nightlife (4%) to the more prevalent, shopping (22%) and restaurants (18%).

Consumers now see the power they have. The old methods of shoving your brand name in front of your target and pray that top of mind awareness will get them in the door is gone. Shoppers now have access to the most trusted form of marketing around – word-of-mouth – all at their fingertips. And as many companies are learning, a massive ad spend can’t make up for a poor score within the Yelp community.

customers-leaving-a-reviewBut Yelp’s not the only platform reshaping our world. More recently, niche review communities have been blossoming left and right. With user’s more easily connecting to fellow shoppers with valued opinions in their niche, we’re seeing sites like Angie’s List and TripAdvisor increase in market share with over 10 million and 435 million trusted reviews respectively.

Yelp may be your go-to for now, but imagine this scenario. You’re hosting a new potential client for dinner. The biggest sales opportunity on your plate in decades and you want to do all in your power to close that sale. Well this particular lead is a huge craft beer snob, with such a refined beer palate that you question whether he’s in the right industry.

So what do you do? You can’t compete with this guy’s beer selection, yet you need to pair that steak perfectly in order to blow this guy’s mind. And too bad you’ve got no friends on your new hoppy happy client’s level.

Good thing there’s a review community for craft beer snobs. You download a new app called Untappd after a quick search in the app store. Within minutes you’re reading reviews from trusted consumers and you’re on your way to the local store to pick up the best beer to round out the meal in the oven. You’re all set; you close the deal. But not only that, now you’ve got a platform to share your new beer insights with that client. There’s even a gamification system that you guys can bond over.

Sounds too good to be true? No way! Check it out for yourself!

Yelp’s popularity is sparking the growth of many of these niche review communities left and right, and we don’t see an end in sight.

Claiming your Yelp page isn’t the end of it though. There’s no guaranteed success just from being searchable. You’ve got to actively manage your accounts and reviews, and show a bit of humanity to your browsers.

Not sure where to start? We’ve got you covered.

How To Manage Your Online Reputation

Examine

  • Review the current state of reviews.
  • Prioritize which locations/stores need the most help.
  • Develop strategy and set achievable plus ‘BHAG’ goals.

Evaluate

  • Managing online reputations gives your business a huge competitive advantage. Since customers are talking directly to your managers about their experience, it’s easy to identify trends, areas for improvement and find out what you’re doing well.
  • Set up notifications to alert you when a user leaves a review. Check for reviews on platforms on a 1-2 day frequency.
  • Software like com or Reputation911.com can be helpful for managing multiple locations and come equipped with tools to encourage more reviews; however, it should be noted that this software comes with a price tag.
  • Set up Google Alerts to notify of any mention of your organization.
  • Respond to all reviews (both positive and negative) using pre-determined guidelines and tailoring them to match the situation.
  • Take negative conversations to direct message or ‘offline’ to determine solution.

 

satisfied-customer-leaves-a-reviewProactive Management

  • Ask for reviews.
  • ‘Listen’ for conversations being had.

Reactive Management

  • Listen for and respond to all online reviews in a timely manne
  • Strategize for positive, negative, and neutral reviews
  • Establish KPIs for Yelp & Google
  • Average overall rating (varies on Google and Yelp, dependent on number of responses vs. response type)
  • Number of positive responses/negative responses
  • Number of ‘Updated’ reviews
  • Response time

The best piece of advice we can ultimately give is that ignoring these review communities will only let your competition jump ahead in their digital presence and push you to the back of the line as a less trustworthy market player. So take our tips to your team and get that strategy going to manage your online rep. ORRRRRR…. Give us a shout! We’d love to help manage your organization’s online presence with a goal of increasing your bottom line!

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Tribu Content Strategist

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