When the Internet first gained mass popularity, its novelty was the fact that it allowed people to chat with others from all around the world. And while that novelty is still alive and well, people are now increasingly using the internet to navigate their everyday living spaces.
Local Customers Influenced by the Internet
Sites like Yelp.com allow them to search for nearby restaurants and services, review the ones they like, pan the ones they hate, and share recommendations with friends. And because of the explosive popularity of sites like Yelp (and CitySearch, and FourSquare, and InsiderPages…) people are turning to the Internet more and more in making decisions in their everyday lives. If you are a PR pro promoting a service-oriented business (a restaurant, boutique, grocery, dry cleaner, etc.), you should have been on Yelp yesterday.
Don’t believe the Yelp hype?
Then perform a search for your service-oriented business on Google. Hopefully your own website is first, but keep scrolling down. Yes, chances are one of the very first – if not the first – entries you see is your business’ listing on Yelp.com. When you click on your company’s Yelp.com entry, you will see starred reviews, many of which discuss your company in great detail. If these reviews are good, congratulations! You have arrived. How about rewarding some of your best reviewers with a discount, freebie or at least a personal note, sent through Yelp’s system, thanking them for their review? And if the reviews are bad…. Well, that’s why it’s vitally important to track your reputation on Yelp.com.
Be Proactive: Claim Your Business
According to Yelp statistics, by late 2009, Yelpers had entered 7 million reviews, and 85% of those reviews ranked local businesses at 3 stars (out of 5) or higher. Anybody can enter any business into Yelp’s database, so if you are new to Yelp, your first step is to create an account and “claim” your business. From there, you will be able to design your Yelp page, add photos and business information, and interact with reviewers (unless they have turned that option off in their profile).
Treat Bad Reviews as Opportunities
So what do you do if you receive a bad review? The worst thing to do is to try to replace them with fake good reviews. Yelp’s FAQ warns that it has a system in place to detect suspicious reviews. Offering customers discounts or freebies in exchange for a five star review on Yelp.com is another underhanded tactic, and Yelpers are bound to notice and turn you in. The best way to maintain a good Yelp rating is to offer a great product or service, deal with any complaints quickly and thoroughly as they come in, and refrain from explicitly asking for a good review on Yelp.
Listen, Correct Mistakes, But Move On
If you do receive a bad review, you can try contacting the reviewer. If you show that you have listened to their complaint and rectified the situation, the reviewer will often turn a negative review into a positive. On the other hand, some reviewers just cannot be swayed. If that’s the case, continue to do a good job and positive reviews will eventually wash a negative review or three away.
As consumers turn to the Internet for advice and ideas on local businesses, sites like Yelp.com are becoming more important than ever. Don’t let the conversation on Yelp.com leave you behind. If you have any tips regarding Yelp or similar services, please share below.
This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (http://www.ereleases.com), the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit: http://www.ereleases.com/prfuel/subscribe/.