Help for the Yelped: Social media PR tips

Fortune Small Business interviewed Yelp’s CEO and co-founder, Jeremy Stoppelman, for a recent article titled “Help for the Yelped”.  Yelp, a review based site posting users’ reviews about local services in the US (please tell me you don’t need this qualifier…if you do, please visit the site) , is exploding in popularity and boasts about 20 million users. The article noted that more than 85% of Yelp’s reviews are positive (earning 3-5 star ratings), leaving 15% of reviews that are negative. That is 3 MILLION negative reviews – Yikes! – and it’s not just restaurants and hair salons that need to worry as more and more users are posting reviews about car mechanics, lawyers, doctors…

Users, as well as the reviewed, can rest assured knowing that Yelp has a system in place to remove “dodgy  reviews” (I love the word dodgy!) that may be skewing results (self-ratings and sabotage missions).  For Yelp users and non’s, the article is an interesting FYI. If you are business owner, take a look at the Do’s and Don’ts on how to “navigate this brave new world without Yelping in pain”. And, if you are a PR or marketing professional, here are some interesting parallels to share with your business or clients who may be tentative to embrace social media.

My paraphrase of the Do’s and Don’ts:

  • Don’t be afraid of it. It’s this new thing called the “in-ter-net” (kidding). It’s like anything else you do, the more you know the game and practice, the more comfortable you will become and better you will be.
  • Sign up for an account.  Identify who’s talking about you (products, services, the market, and related topics) and where (blogs, forums, Twitter, wherever). It’s up to you to decide if it is idle chit chat or warrants a response, but wouldn’t your rather hear it from the horse’s mouth then have it said behind your back? Because, either way, they are still talking.
  •  Email customers who post good or bad responses. Customer service 101. Comcast turned an installer’s flub on camera into a strategic social media plan to ward off future episodes. People vent when their problem is not being addressed “properly”. The don’t want to have a problem so listen, respond quickly and earnestly, and resolve the problem. Turn it into an opportunity to shine and a positive customer service experience (hopefully they will share that too!).
  • Ratings will change. Every business has successes and failures, times of prosperity and challenges. Shoot for 100%, whether it be a customer service or sales metrics. When you fall short, work harder to improve your future rating and get back to your peak performance.

Moral of my story: Whether it’s Yelp, Twitter, or just good ‘ole face-to-face conversation (remember that?), at the end of the day it’s all “social media”.  It’s not necessarily what people are saying, it’s hearing what they are saying and reacting to the chatter that will set your business apart.

Posted by: Katie

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