As we all know, word of mouth has long been the cheapest and most valuable form of marketing. The word-of-mouth concept has evolved into an online phenomenon called Yelp, a review site that receives more than 40 million visitors per month. Inspired by a recent question posed at our office, here are some essential elements to manage your brand and encourage conversation on Yelp.
- To begin, unlock your business page by claiming your business, setting up your user account, and answering a quick phone call to verify that you are the owner. After the account has been verified, you will begin creating content on your page. Then the fun begins!
- Set the objective attributes. Be sure that you include all information available about your business. Subjective business information (e.g., satisfaction with goods or services, fun for kids, etc.) is voted on by your customers and can change daily.
- Keep comments short.
- Post offers, announcements, and any good press for consumers to use and share.
- Yelp has a review filter that automatically deletes reviews that sound fake or appear to be written by competitors or disgruntled former employees. This filter attempts to reduce human bias. You will notice that some reviews will disappear and then reappear after more people review your business.
- Don’t solicit your customers to review your business. It’s obvious when people have been prompted to write reviews. Those reviews will many times be deleted by Yelp’s review filter.
Responding to Positive Reviews
- Monitor reviews and respond appropriately. Keep these two things in mind when creating a message: The reviewers are paying customers (hence, you do not want to upset them and drive them away from your business), and the reviewers are human beings with feelings, sensitivity, and opinions.
- When responding to a positive review, your purpose is to thank the reviewer—nothing more. Do not bribe the reviewer or probe for more information. She is not a paid promoter. Prove in your response that you read her specific review and she is not receiving an automatically generated thank-you note.
- Don’t post thank-you notes publicly. If you post publicly, you have to reply to every single message and take the risk of missing someone’s review and upsetting that person. It also sounds redundant and insincere posting the same generic thank-you note to everyone. You also run the risk of showing favoritism and spending a lot of time customizing every thank-you note. Thank reviewers in private messages.
Responding to Negative Reviews
- When responding to a negative review, take a few minutes to step away and gain your composure before sending a hasty response. If you respond in the correct manner, you have a chance of changing that relationship and perhaps getting a better review in the future.
- Thank the reviewer for his business and the feedback provided. Let him know about any changes you have made based on his review, and invite him back in to meet you personally if that is an option. Do not harass, bribe, or threaten the reviewer, and do not make excuses or become defensive.
- If you buy sponsorships, do not expect Yelp to remove bad reviews of your business because of the revenue you are supplying.
- If something false is published, it’s OK to respond publicly and politely to clear up the misunderstanding.