We've all heard the cliche, "Everyone's a critic," but Yelp puts that into practice. Yelp is a Web site whose content is driven by real people giving their own reviews on what's available in their cities: restaurants, stores, hotels, and (here's where it gets interesting) arts and entertainment. Anyone can sign up to be a Yelper. Then, on with the griping or the applauding or the mehing. With lots of traffic headed Yelp's way (almost 4 million people visited Yelp in April 2007, according to their site), suddenly the collective opinions of the average Joes out there become quite powerful.
Has your organization been Yelped?
I first heard about Yelp while I was at the 2007 NAMP conference in beautiful Miami. The speaker mentioned that he had heard of some businesses who, after receiving negative Yelps, had posted signs declaring "No Yelpers Allowed!"
What a terrible thing to do! It would have been so much better to hang a sign, "Yelpers welcome. Please let us know if we can help you in any way during your visit. Enjoy!"
In fact, Yelp itself offers a guide for business owners that provides great advice on how to handle your organization's image on Yelp. Their list of "Do's" and "Don'ts" is educational and extremely helpful. There is also information about other services that are available to enhance your listing and visibility, but these probably cost a little bit of lolly and don't really seem necessary to effectively promote your company.
So, check it out, see if you've been Yelped, and maybe get involved. Heck, maybe even hang a "Yelpers Welcome" sign or have a "Yelpers Night." And keep an eye open. This type of community reviewing is going to become more and more popular since it aggregates honest (we hope) and open communication from a variety of viewpoints rather than a those of a lone critic.