In our “Using Social Media for Your Restaurant” series, we gave you some work to do last week on getting a Facebook and Twitter page going for your establishment. This week we wanted to inform you about Yelp. With 50 million visitors to the site last March, it’s at least worth looking at.
Yelp is a review site who describes themselves as “the fun and easy way to find and talk about great (and not so great) local businesses.”
We’ve learned while it’s important and helpful to customers to have information about your establishment online, many times people would like to make a decision based off someone else’s personal experience. That being said, restaurants are in the direct path of review sites like Yelp.
Similar to Facebook, Twitter and next week’s blog on Foursquare, Yelp allows you to claim your restaurant (which may seem odd, because you think you own your restaurant in every shape and form, but there’s always work to be done when it comes to the internet).
By claiming your page, you will have control of your contact information, the ability to announce special offers, send messages to your customers, view business trends and more. If anything, claim a page to make sure your contact information is correct and have the ability to make those changes if you need to. By all means, with having restaurant to run on top of marketing and social media campaigns, one small website might not seem significant—but by claiming you’ll at least always know you have some control there.
Click here to create an account.
It’s astonishing how websites close to, but not quite as popular as Google, Facebook or Twitter, make such an impact on restaurants. This was an interesting testimonial Yelp posted from Dan Weinberger of Weinberger’s Delicatessen in Grapevine, Tx.:
“A year ago I was a little skeptical about Yelp. Now….I have a new demographic of diner that had passed me by until Yelp.”
Today we live in a fast-paced world. A customer may be looking for a new place to try, or are torn between two places.
They can jump on their computer before leaving, or get on their smartphone while standing outside of a location and find the information to determine which restaurant they would like to visit.
With many different apps for mobile phones, it makes the entire process from viewing information to writing reviews that much easier.
The scary thing about review websites like Yelp are negative reviews. Accidents and mistakes happen, and while one bad experience shouldn’t define a restaurant, it can make an impact on whether or not someone chooses to visit.
In this QSR Magazine article, they mention Yelp attended this year’s NRA (National Restaurant Association) show specifically to help restaurateurs deal with negative reviews. Upon speaking with Yelp’s Business Outreach Manager, Luther Lowe, he told them many restaurant operators are not comfortable “with the idea that people can share their opinions online in a very public way.”
However, since that is out of one’s control, Lowe recommends “restaurants should get involved with Yelp and ensure they are using the popular review site to their benefit.”
He continues to say,
“There’s a lot of value in participating in these conversations, rather than burying your head in the sand and pretending they’re not happening.”
To ease the discomfort, first Lowe advises if a review has the wrong facts, a restaurant should go on Yelp and make a public response to correct the error. Be sure this isn’t done in condescending or negative tone, which could possibly worsen the situation.
Also, do what you can to make it right with a customer. See what you can do to make it better. Ask for their contact information and send them a voucher for a free dinner, drink, appetizer, etc. Sometimes those small things make such a huge impact on someone—just by making it right, no questions asked.
Next, Lowe told QSR “Yelp also actively scans the site to make sure bogus reviews are removed. Users can flag reviews that they find unfair, which a team at Yelp scans to ensure their legitimacy, and a complex algorithm scans each of the site’s nearly 18 million reviews daily to flesh out any fishy reviews.”
He concludes his statement, which adds to what we mentioned above about being involved, by advising to maintain a presence and interact with reviewers to keep information accurate.
Yelp has put tools into place, so you shouldn’t feel as though review sites are out to ruin your restaurant’s reputation. Because while the idea of a negative review is scary, and might make you feel as though it’s easier to ignore the site exists, using the site by interacting with reviewers, posting pictures, etc. can drive business in the door just like Facebook or Twitter.
With all social media sites, there’s always much more to do. First, if you haven’t claimed your location on Yelp, take five minutes of your day to do so—then as you have time add pictures or respond to reviews. Yelp provides this page of FAQs which address many concerns of both reviewers and businesses.
If you’ve started to schedule time in your day for social media, add this one to the list. Once being involved with a variety of social media sites, you will begin to see which ones are a priority based on your customers. Perhaps Yelp will turn to be number one on your list!