Whether you are a small business owner or a social media manager, you’ve probably had to deal with Yelp at some point in your career. If you’re a business owner or social media manager and you HAVEN’T experienced Yelp, you should probably slap yourself on the forehead in the manner of those V8 commercials. Yelp is one of the biggest crowd-sourced review sites in the world with over 140 million unique visitors per month, so you have every incentive to post your business on Yelp and let your customers give feedback on your business.
There are two huge advantages to managing your reputation on Yelp. First off, positive customer experiences will lead to positive reviews (and positive brand exposure), and if prospective customers visit your Yelp page with all those positive reviews, you will get more customers supporting your business. Second, when you get a negative review, you have the opportunity to engage your customers and show that you care about their experience. Plus, multiple complaints about your business can be used as way revaluate your business and determine if there are real issues that you must fix.
Yelp reviews, while helpful, may also be dangerous to your brand. Obviously, negative reviews reflect poorly on your business, and multiple bad reviews will bring your overall rating down, making you less attractive to customers. But it’s not just negative reviews that will affect your brand, but filtered reviews as well. What sets Yelp apart from Google+ reviews, Facebook reviews, and TripAdvisor is Yelp’s algorithm that filters reviews, so the reviews of users who have critiqued many businesses are weighted so they count more to the overall Yelp review. In theory, this is a good idea to help prevent people from joining Yelp just to bash one establishment after one bad experience. However, this also prevents business owners from giving 5-star reviews to their own establishments. Again, fine in theory, but newer users’ reviews may be filtered out of the overall review, including organic, positive reviews that could help your business.
As a social media manager, I’ve experienced this problem before. I have a customer whose establishment had not yet been reviewed on Yelp despite being active for over a year. However, when the first review came, the user had given it a 1-star review, so the overall score would show up as a 1-star. Knowing that the score would show up on not only Yelp, but any search engine, I decided to give it the establishment a 5-star review to bring the overall average to a 3-star (and plus, I actually do really like that place, so as a private citizen, I thought it was warranted). However, that was my very first review on Yelp (I usually only use it to monitor customer reviews and alert the owner of bad reviews so she can respond to them directly). So my review was filtered out of the overall score, and the business remained a 1-star.
So to my fellow social media managers out there, take my advice and become an active user on Yelp by reviewing other establishments, not just clients when a bad review comes in. Protect your clients and make your reviews count. You can have an otherworldly marketing strategy, but it will amount to nothing if consumers find other users trashing your client’s brand.