Location Based Services or LBS platforms like Yelp, FourSquare, GoWalla and Facebook Places are all the rage with marketers these days. Between social media, mobile and local there is a lot of potential for savvy marketers to serve up incredibly precise and measurable marketing campaigns with a minimal amount of effort and budget. However, it is critical to develop an approach before you just jump in. Spread yourself too thin and you could find yourself overwhelmed with it all. This article is going to break down Yelp as an online reputation tool that can be used to create a credible and transparent image.
Yelp tends to focus on content curation; content is generated from local Yelpers who share reviews of the local businesses they frequent in their respected cities. These reviews are then curated, organized and published by the Yelp Community Manager (an official Yelp employee) on a page within Yelp. These published reviews can be incredibly powerful when it comes to shaping a local merchants' online reputation. The good news is that you, as the business owner can actively participate in the process.
To begin, you'll need to claim your listing on Yelp. This is pretty painless and should only take a few minutes. Make sure you complete your profile too; Yelp has strict guidelines when it comes to approving listings. They're not there to intimidate anyone from signing-up. It's more of a SPAM prevention thing than anything. Always use a real photo of the business too, that goes a long way.
Once the listing has been claimed you will have access to all of the conversations being had about your business. You can look at who has been reviewing your products and services and respond to any comments or feedback that has been published; good or bad. Be sure to remain objective and honest when communicating via Yelp. Your voice will be heard but only if it is honest and credible.
Finally, don't go into "sales mode" either. Yelp is not a site for self-promotion; it's a management tool, a lot like the drop boxes that most businesses keep for suggestions. Except these comments are published on the web.