Every time I step foot into a restaurant or business, I always take out my iPhone. Some might say that it’s a typical sign of my generation – attached at the cheek/thumb to our smart phones, constantly distracted over choosing not to engage in reality. But if you could see the screen, you’d know I am simply checking into my Yelp application – ready to soak in the experience I’m about to have, so I can blog about it later for the masses. Yelping has changed the way I approach interacting with businesses, and provides platforms that are Gen Y-relevant (like a mobile app that features competitive location-based check-ins and awards). Here are some tips to get Yelping!
Don’t just be another (non)face in the crowd
Be sure to complete a user profile and tell me a little about you – especially what type of foods you like, (helpful when you’re reviewing a place I am interested in). A pro Yelper recommends that you always show off your face. It gives you street cred to other Yelpers, as well as Yelp businesses. Would you take a review seriously if the reviewer had a picture of their dog? I sure wouldn’t. But I would believe someone who is confident in their review enough to show their face.
Let’s be friends
Just like other social networks, it’s more fun when you have friends. Friend people you think have interesting reviews that fit your interests. Add friends from Facebook! Use the member search or the Invite Friends feature to add to our list. You can also connect your Yelp to Facebook – so you can tell your Facebook friends when you’ve checked into a business or want to share your reviews.
Don’t be a lurker, write a review
Part of the fun about Yelp is participating in the reviews. Take a spin around and get to know what others typically write about. Then, make sure you go into an experience with as much of an unbiased view as possible, and just enjoy it. For example, when dining I sometimes I take notes throughout the meal so I don’t forget anything. I like my dining reviews to cover the following: menu variety, food taste, service, price, waiting time/time for food delivery, ambiance, and bathrooms (always the bathrooms). But you can do it however way you want – as long as you just write!
Don’t just stick to dining
I often get stuck in the restaurant review cycle – I feel like I rarely review something that isn’t food-related. But when looking for services and non-dining businesses, I also look to Yelp. So be sure to review any and all businesses that you can contribute recommendations. Have something interesting to say about your eye doctor? Add it here!
Find an angle
The best reviews I’ve read are always written with an angle behind them. I didn’t think I wrote interesting reviews until I was diagnosed as a celiac, doomed to eat gluten-free food forever. After that, I wrote all about gluten-free menus and finds throughout the state (and on vacation). Writing with an angle (or a purpose) will make your reviews engaging – and in my case, helpful! Be known as a sushi connoisseur. Write reviews about dining with small children. Just write about something that makes you stand out.
Don’t just write what you hate
Sometimes I’ll be tempted to only write scathing reviews on Yelp. That waiter was terrible! I’d rather drink hand sanitizer than use their bathrooms! But, sometimes the best reviews are the positive ones! Tell me what you liked about the place – what parts of the menu are great, what wine pairings did the server suggest, etc. Now, if the place merits a terrible review, certainly give it one. However, finding pros and cons to each experience, and adding positive reviews to the mix give you street cred as a Yelper. No one wants to be Yelp friends with a Debbie Downer.
Dive into more Yelp
Extend your Yelp experience by being part of the community. First, subscribe to the Yelp newsletter, you’ll get weekly insights into new businesses that people are going crazy over. Explore new openings in your city to find out about something new. Check out the Yelp events calendar on the homepage (click on the “Event” link). Follow that to popular events in your area, and events from your friends and followers. Reach out to Yelp royalty, like community leaders and Yelp Elite. And attend Yelp parties – they are the most fun events around town (but you’ve got to subscribe to the newsletters to be in the know!).
The Yelp app completes the journey
Available for iPhone and Android, the Yelp app is an important part of the Yelp experience. It not only combines the ability to draft reviews (you can’t write a full review on the app, but it will save on your profile), but also creates a location-based game that rivals the fun of Foursquare. Checking into business also unlocks awesome coupons (like a 50% off coupon from Mojo yogurt) – so remember to use the app early in the visit (before paying) and often!
Pro-tip: Use Yelp for your business!
My friend/awesome realtor (featured in my earlier column), Josh uses Yelp personally AND for his family real estate business. Being a realtor, Josh is always meeting clients at coffee shops or eateries, and checks in and leaves great reviews. He also reviews realty-related businesses. But on the business end, he set up a Yelp business account for his company – and it’s got some awesome realty reviews so far! Use Yelp for your business to garner real consumer feedback, and provide another way for potential customers to see how great you really are!
Any Gen Y Yelpers out there that can add to the experience? Tell me in the comments.