Yelp Babysteps: Creating Powerful Word of Mouth
Remember in the good ol’ days when you would provide great service and your customer would go and tell his cronies all about how great you are. In other cases, someone would have a bad experience (not with YOU, of course) and they would go and tell all of their friends.
Well, that’s still going on. Except now it’s gone online. Which means that if I get a good haircut, I can go on Facebook and say “Check out this picture of my AWESOME haircut. Bob the Barber on Main Street did it. He’s sooo good.”
And that good review, which would normally be between friends over a cup of coffee, is now online. PERMANENTLY. FOR ALL TO SEE. It’s like word-of-mouth. But bigger. Word-of-BIG-mouth.
So here’s your first little tiny baby step for leaning into this powerful new marketing dynamic.
Baby Step I: Start a Yelp account for your business.
Yelp.com was created to be a central hub for all of the word-of-mouth, good and bad reviews about local businesses. So when you take this baby step, you’re stepping into a better relationship with your customers, and you’re stepping into a place of influence in this active community.
Starting a Yelp business account is easy. All you need to do is go to http://biz.yelp.com and follow a few simple instructions. The important thing is that your phone number is the same as the one on your business Yelp page. That way they can verify that you are really the business owner.
Once you’ve created your account, you can now browse and comment and interact as the official representative of your business. It adds a personability to your business that customers will appreciate.
OK. Go ahead and create your free account and then come back for baby step 2
Yelp! Baby Step 2: Building Relationships with Your Active Customers
In part 1, we briefly discussed the power of word of mouth, and how that power has increased exponentially since it has moved online. Now when someone is singing your praise on Twitter or Facebook, they might have a couple thousand people seeing that praise. Not a bad setup.
Here in part 2 we’ll take a quick look at cultivating relationships on Yelp to help gain and sustain word-of-mouth momentum on Yelp.
Once you’ve created your Yelp business account, log in and find your business’ Yelp page. Look through the reviews. And, well… talk to people. And don’t just respond to bad reviews either. Seek out the people that seem to be super excited about your business. Better yet, if you recoginize some of the Yelpers from an in-store interaction, mention it. Lean INTO the relationship. Not only will it turn customers into fans, and fans into advocates, but other people will also be able to see you interacting, and that’s a big draw.
Remember also that you can do public comments, but also private messages. Not EVERYTHING needs to be a public interaction. It might even feel more personal if you send them a private message saying, “Hey Frank. I really appreciated the review you gave. Come on in sometime soon. And bring a few friends. Get a couple free pizzas and drinks, on me.”
See the great power that is just waiting to be utilized on Yelp. All of a sudden you have a measure of control over the word of mouth marketing that is happening for your business.
So go ahead, log in, and cultivate some relationships on Yelp.
Yelp Baby Step 3: How to Deal with a Bad Yelp Review
Last night, right before bed, you were browsing the internet and you decided to check up on your Yelp business listing.
When you logged in, you saw that you had a new review from someone named Paul S.
He gave you 2 stars, and the review went like this:
“I got a Thai Iced Coffee today at Sue’s Cafe. It would have been enjoyable if I liked drinking dirt mixed with some kind of poop-vomit mixture. I couldn’t do more than two sips. I gave up on the coffee and moved on to my tomato asiago egg sandwich. I couldn’t do it. The bread was like a dry sponge, and everything in the sandwich tasted like it had been sitting in a stinky cooler all night. I told all of my co-workers, I tweeted it, and posted my bad experience on Facebook, just to make sure this place goes out of business ASAP! Try Dunkin Donuts instead.”
For the next several nights you lay awake in bed thinking about those words. Worrying. Hating them. Hating yourself. Hating Yelp. Hating people that listen to the reviewer. Maybe eventually you’ll get sleep.
How about instead of that, we do this: learn how to handle a bad Yelp review.
First I have to say this: there might not be much you can do, especially if the review is fact-based (i.e. you actually DID use sponges instead of real bread).
But sometimes you may find someone that is simply on a rant, or they are a disgruntled former employee, or maybe an ex-wife (I’m sure it happens), and they just want you to get bad press.
Well, lucky for you, Yelp can sometimes help you out with those. And it’s fairly simple to deal with it.
Log in to your Yelp account, find the negative review, and click “Flag as Inappropriate”. Remember this only applies if they violated Yelp’s review rules.
Now, more than likely, the review is NOT violating the terms of service, but you can still come out on top. By actually responding to it.
Here’s what you do:
1. Find the bad review.
2. Think carefully about how you will respond. What is the person angry about? Are you at fault? Was it an off day or something that you honestly never noticed before? You may even want to write a couple possible responses on paper and leave them alone for a couple hours. Then come back when you’ve taken a breath and see which response is more becoming.
3. Compose your response. You should be friendly and diplomatic, and honest about it (if in fact you served sponges). Don’t be defensive and inflammatory. It doesn’t reflect well on you or our business. Be human. Be yourself. Usually bad reviews aren’t by bad people. They’re just trying to be as honest as they can about an experience they had. So be respectful of that.
Yelpers appreciate owner comments. It gives perspective to a person’s bad review. And it shows them that there is a person behind that business that cares about pleasing her customers. Have fun with it, enjoy your customer interactions, and watch your online word-of-mouth marketing improve significantly.