Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Yelp!

Aside from Google, one of the most important websites for small businesses (and their social media agency or department) is the crowdsourced review site Yelp!. If you’ve eaten out lately, you’ve probably seen the little red “People Love Us On Yelp!” sticker on the door. I know I personally use it quite a bit when trying to find new places to eat, and I review places on it quite frequently, so I thought I’d share some fun facts about Yelp!, because we’re all kind of tired of election news, right?

1. Yelp! is unique in that most of its site traffic is generated on its desktop site and not the mobile site! You wouldn’t think this would be the case in 2012, but 60% of searches are from regular computers, and the company’s mobile apps are used by about 7 million people. Yelp.com gets 78 million visitors per month. However, like other social media agencies, mobile is starting to gain some serious footing.

2. Every star on a review means about a 5-9% jump in revenue. Yelp uses a rating system like movie critics do – using stars. Every “star” a place gains on it’s Yelp rating means a revenue jump, according to a study by Havard professor Michael Luca, who found a correlation between high revenues and high Yelp! ratings.

3. Most places that get reviewed aren’t restaurants. I was especially surprised by this, considering restaurants are primarily what I have used Yelp for, but in 2011, shopping venues reached “parity” with restaurants. The “restaurant review site” perception still exists, though, as restaurants do have the natural advantage because they see far more customers than, say, your doctor’s office would.

The social media agency can definitely take advantage of Yelp!, as it offers the user a direct chance to voice their opinion in a public forum. This gives you feedback in very nearly real time to see if a campaign is doing what it should and engaging an audience. Just don’t encourage people to review – artificially boosting your Yelp! rating does more damage in the long run.

Social Media: My Source for News, Comment & Community

Remember the days of waking up, stepping onto your porch, picking up the newspaper, and reading the latest headlines? I have a vague recollection. It’s been some years since I subscribed to a newspaper.

Image: freedigitalphotos.net

Remember the days of waking up, turning on your laptop, opening your browser, and finding out what was making news? That memory is also starting to fade.

Increasingly, I get my information through social media, particularly Facebook. I’ll often start my day at Ingenex Digital Marketing by visiting such online news outlets as The Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, or The New York Times. However, I’ll usually exit after a few minutes given that I become overwhelmed by the amount of content. Other than the very latest news, I don’t always know where to look or what’s most relevant to me.

That inevitably leads me to Facebook to see what is on the minds of the people in my network. If there’s breaking news, someone will probably pass on word. If there’s some controversial issue, people will likely discuss it.I found out about the death of Whitney Houston through Facebook. Someone in my network posted it minutes after it was announced. That was a first — I had always learned of such things firsthand through TV news.

And then, we’re now in the final months of a presidential race. So, of course, there’s also been a great deal of political discussion on Facebook. I know people on both the left and the right and in all places in between, and I’ve been intrigued by the viewpoints shared. I may not agree with everything that’s said, but I’m more likely to consider the thoughts presented given these are folks I know and with whom I have a relationship.

It has become even more apparent to me since I started working at a digital marketing agency that social media is the modern equivalent of a town square. There’s extra joy in finding out positive news from people I know, and there’s a certain comfort in discussing tragedy from friends and acquaintances. What it ultimately comes down to is community — people want to feel connected to one another. The newspaper and other more traditional forms of media may have helped bind people in the past. Now, social media seems to fulfill that role.

Getting business through social networking

A couple days ago I found an interesting discussion in Flickr. In the wedding photographers group some of the members were discussing about how to get business through social networks. The idea is simple, but effective: Post the pictures you take for a senior portraits session, engagement or a wedding on your Facebook and tag your customers. If your privacy options are set up so everyone can see those pictures, allow comments, and you will be the guy who took those cool senior portraits or those cute engagement shots, and that will surely bring you business.

The same idea applies to many different businesses. If you do a good job in whatever you do, you can probably ask that customer to left a recommendation for you on any of the social networking sites, or ask him to refer your site to other potential customers.

If you are writing a blog, write about what you have done for that customer and put pictures of up it if possible. Then let your customer know and he will surely show your blog entry to colleagues and friends, spreading the word about whatever service or product you do and how well you do it.

Word of mouth is proven to work well, and social networking is a powerful tool for keep spreading the word about your business.

Out of the Loopt

Loopt is a social networking tool that enables users to connect, share, and explore using their mobile phones. On the Eco-Friendly Internship blog I previously discussed mobile marketing – Loopt offers subscribers the chance to become mobile marketers, of themselves and of places and events they recommend. An interesting feature of Loopt is that it can alert you when a friend is nearby, effectively turning your phone into a social compass. You can also use Loopt to give a heads’ up about a great place or event in your area, and in turn use your friends’ recommendations to find new activities you might enjoy. To learn more, you can take a tour.

To use Loopt, you need to first make sure that its technology will work with your phone. You also might want to check out their pricing policies, as well as your mobile providers’ messaging rates (Loopt currently requires the use of SMS text messages). Once you have established that Loopt is compatible and affordable for you, you can register your phone, verify your phone number, and download Loopt to your mobile.

Unfortunately, I was unable to finish exploring all the Loopt has to offer – upon receiving the ten digit code necessary to verify my phone number I entered it into the appropriate field but my code was rejected by the site. I re-sent the code to my mobile in the hopes that I would receive a new code, or that the site would recognize the old code if I sent it again, but still no luck. There is a forum to post questions, problems, and discussions, but in order to use it you must create yet another user account.

I’m still waiting to hear back from Loopt; until then, my social compass is out of commission.

Social Media: Good and Bad

Social media websites is having positive and negative effects on companies. Word-of-mouth advertising has increased significantly because of social media websites like Facebook and Twitter, causing an increase in brand awareness and marketing sales. Marketwatch wrote an article about this topic, saying that companies that take advantage of social media will more likely have visibility in consumer generated content and effectiveness in marketing. With the decline of traditional marketing effectiveness, social media may be the future of marketing.

Even though word-of-mouth may spread good news, it can also spread the bad. ZDNet wrote an article about how social media may increase identity theft on websites such as Twitter, Facebook and MySpace. Most recently, a person on Twitter who claimed to be a representative of ExxonMobil was confirmed untrue. This has caused people to think that social media websites are untrustworthy and dishonest. These websites have been accused of not doing enough to secure a person’s identity (or brand, in this case). Despite incidents like this, the marketing world cannot ignore the rising influence of social media and must be prepared of how it will affect marketing as a whole.