Today Yelp is more of a necessity than it is an option for local small businesses. People in cities use Yelp to determine where to eat, where to hang out with friends and family and where to shop. As a local business owner, Yelp is an invaluable tool for creating local exposure for your business, tracking what people are saying about your brand and determining the needs of your local customers. This social tool allows businesses to integrate the power of social marketing and geo-location services. Here is how to get started:
Setting Up Yelp for Business
Setting up a business page on Yelp is free. First, find your business at the Yelp search box on the Business Page. Enter your business name, your location and then ‘Search.’ Yelp will look for related local business establishments and display a list of these businesses. When you find your business, click ‘Unlock’ to unlock your enterprise.
Next, create your account by filling requisite information such as your name, email address and password. This will be your login. Click ‘Continue’ to proceed with the application. Yelp requires you to answer a short automated call to verify your information. After the quick verification, you will have access to the Business Owners page and dashboard to edit you business profile. Keep your Yelp profile consistent with your business profile in other social networks.
Complete you profile by providing adequate details about your business. Remember that customers will come to your business pages to see what you are about and what you offer. Update your profile often
Building a Yelp Community
Building a strong and loyal following community is integral to your success on Yelp. Your Yelp community will help you market your business by reviewing it and recommending it to their friends.
First, link your Yelp profile to your blog, business website and social networks. This will help you build a relationship with other Yelp users with the same interests as you. This approach will also link you with friends who are already on Yelp.
Next, find businesses that interest you and start to review them. Ensure that your reviews are genuine and valuable to other users. Particularly useful is to review new businesses you discover and send these businesses a message when you review them and you do not see a response. Reviewing other businesses will go a long way in establishing formidable business partnerships.
Also, look around to see consumers that are reviewing local businesses in your location and request them to become your ‘friends’ on Yelp. Use the talk section on Yelp to see local active users to engage. Consider that Yelpers are tech savvy, eager to spread news about their favorite business and are typically, social media influencers. Use the compliment link beneath each written review to complement the reviewer; this will make you more visible to active Yelpers and reviewers.
Then, embed the Yelp button on your blog and website. This will tell your site visitors that you are on Yelp and that they can connect with you there. The buttons can direct site visitors to your Yelp pages for them to see the reviews your business has received. If your site visitors are already on Yelp, then they can add you as their ‘friend.’
Grow your community by integrating your Yelp business pages with Facebook and Twitter. Integration allows you to share reviews, announcement, promotions and events with your connections on other social networks. Integrating your Yelp profile with Twitter and Facebook also informs your followers and fans about your presence on Yelp and encourages them to become your ‘friends’ on the Yelp platform.
Yelp Community Management
As you build your community on Yelp, constructively engage with this community. An important aspect of community engagement is the management of customer reviews. Whether you receive positive or negative reviews, you need to insightfully respond to them.
You can respond to reviews privately or publicly. For positive reviews, simply say ‘thank you’, but do not offer to give them perks for positively reviewing your business. Respond to negative reviews by acknowledging the reviewers circumstances and if possible offer to address the matter. The public feedback tool is most effective for publishing information that concerns a majority of your followers, such as how you have addressed a specific issue. It is also helpful in clarifying any negative comment or false reviews.
Place a sign at your business premise to encourage visitors to offer Yelp reviews. If you offer online service, ask your clients and contacts to leave a review too. If some of your customers are not Yelpers yet, encourage them to join and engage in the network. Reviews will help to boost your Yelp page rankings at the local search engines.
The monthly cost for small business advertising on Yelp ranges between $300 and $1,000. Businesses featured on the advertising program have more exposure at the site search engines; this allows users to find you easily for related searches.
The Yelp advertisement program also allows you to feature a review of your choice at the top of your business page. Users looking for related business will see this review first.
Yelp Events and Announcements
Yelp makes it possible for local businesses to announce promotions, offers and events and to reach a wide audience at a minimal cost. Whether you have opened a new shop, offering a seasonal discount or hosting a local event, Yelp lets you create a deal or event and to publish it on your business page. Using the announcement tool will also make you more visible in related Yelp search results.
Yelp sends a weekly newsletter highlighting events, promotions and announcements to users. Additionally, users around your location may be notified of any promotions or events your business is offering or hosting, prompting the potential customer to check in to your business. Make your announcements and offers unique and helpful to Yelpers.
To determine if your city is eligible for a Yelp event visit http://yelp.com/events and then click on the ‘Other Cities’ button to look for your city.
Yelp will then direct you to a page that will enable you to create an event. Enter the location of your business, website, event details and photos. Leverage the ‘What and Why’ box to market and promote your event. Use relevant keywords (related to your business and the event) in the description box to optimize your event for related searches at the site search box.
Engage Yelpers with the event by inviting them to ‘Discuss this event.’ Use the ‘Send to Friend’ tab to invite Yelpers and connections in other social networks to the Event. Continue to update those whom you have invited and have responded saying ‘I’m In’. Build a relationship with those who attended by interacting with them after the event – they might become loyal, buying customers.
Ali Salman is an online marketing strategist who have worked with Coca-Cola, Extreme Pita, Mucho Burrito, KIA, Honda and other Fortune 500 companies. Ali Salman now heads Rapid Boost Marketing - Canada's fastest growing search marketing agency. RBM clients include Fortune 500's and medium size businesses across North America. Ali as RBM CMO leads his team in building and managing quality, high-performing and cost-effective interactive campaigns and programs for our company's customers and partners. In his career, he has significantly improved campaign performance for large brands such as Government of Alberta, Liberal Party, Workopolis, Cathay Pacific, as well as medium to large retailers and high-tech B2B-enterprise niches.
Ali and his team develop online promotional concepts that spark viral growth through search and social media for RBM clients, devising strategies that use search engines and more to reach key demographic segments in the ways they're most likely to be receptive. Ali Salman also oversees corporate marketing initiatives for Rapid Boost Marketing, including strategic communications counsel, public and analyst relations and client education programming.