Sure, you’ve heard a lot about Yelp. Perhaps you’ve used it to help search out the next hot spot to shop, hang out, or eat. Perhaps you’re an active member who has posted rants and raves about the restaurants and places you have visited. Perhaps you run your own business and stumbled upon a random review. Or, someone has reviewed your business, and…you don’t even know it. Was the review good? Bad? Offensive? Not sure how the reviews could affect your business’ profits, visibility, or competitiveness?
OpenSource had a chance to chat with Crystal Henrickson (far left), former Community Manager of Yelp Vancouver, and now Director of Marketing for Yelp.ca, to learn more about what the Yelp community is all about and how businesses in Metro Vancouver should be leveraging it.
OS: So, what exactly does your role entail?
CH: More recently, I’m working with Canadian Yelp communities from coast to coast. But prior, I was the Community Manager for Yelp in Vancouver. Cyndi Hunter is the present Vancouver go-to-gal. In the Community Manager role: planning Yelp events, writing the Weekly Yelp newsletter, and discovering so many great local businesses and yelpers made up most of my days.
OS: What makes Metro Vancouver such a unique and active Yelp community?
CH: The people amaze me: not just how many witty suggestions live amongst Vancouverites, but how deep the collective knowledge about the local Vancouver scene runs. Meeting up with yelpers is like meeting with old friends, and you’ll almost always discover something new!
OS: Could you explain briefly the special Yelp events that are organized each month?
CH: Every month, or so, Vancouver’s Yelp Community Manager, Cyndi H, plans an event that gives the Yelp Elite Squad (http://www.yelp.ca/elite) an opportunity to mix and mingle offline. Elites are super vibrant and prolific “yelpers” who really love to share their favourite local places. We work with local restaurants and bars to give Elites the opportunity to get together while discovering new places or getting reacquainted with more established spaces.
If you’d like to see some of our events, check out the Community Blog: http://communityblog.yelp.com
OS: How is Yelp different from your competitors and other Social Media sites?
CH: Yelp holds a special place in the social media sphere, both on the desktop and the mobile. It’s the place to go for useful (and sometimes funny and cool) information on all sorts of local businesses written by real folks who like to share their opinions. So, from dentists to dog groomers. daycares to dry cleaners, shopping and eating, chances are you’ll find what you’re looking for on the local scene.
OS: How influential do you feel the users of Yelp are on local consumers’ behaviour?
CH: You know that one person in your group of friends that you go to for restaurant recommendations, a trusty hair stylist or the best coffee? That’s what Yelp is like. It’s word of mouth, but online, those suggestions and recommendations are amplified.
OS: What do you say to businesses who are wondering how Yelp can help with their bottom-line, visibility, or competitiveness?
CH: Yelp is transactional social media, connecting people to great local businesses. When you want pizza or a plumber, a special occasion restaurant or a hair salon, savvy consumers are turning to Yelp to help direct them when making purchasing decisions.
OS: What would be some good “first-steps” for a new business to take when trying to familiarize themselves with, or to leverage the Yelp community?
CH: Unlock your business page. It’s free to do and it opens the door to tools allowing business owners to share insights and information about your business and offer specials or promotions.There’s more information, along with helpful information, and the best ways to engage online at http://biz.yelp.ca
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