Sprout Social is pleased to introduce our newest contributor to the Insights blog – Samuel Axon. Samuel has an impressive Social Media pedigree writing for blogs like Endgadget, Mashable and others.

Reach out to Samuel via the links on his bio at the end of this post.

Take it away, Sam!

If You’re Yelping and You Know it Raise Your Hand

Planning on listing your local business on Yelp? Chances are it already has a Yelp page, regardless of whether you’ve set one up yourself. Here’s how you can take control of your listing and use it to attract new customers and engage with existing ones at no cost.

Yelp users are able to search for your business, view basic info about it, and even write reviews even before you’ve claimed your page! Once you claim your page and unlock the business owner controls, however, you’ll be able to provide your Yelp viewers with up-to-date info and offers and you can actually respond to their concerns and questions.

Claim and Unlock Your Business Page

Search for your business like you would any other, using the search bar at the top of the Yelp home page. When you’ve found it, click on it to be taken to the page. Chances are you’ll see an address, a phone number, and not much else.

Beneath that basic info, you’ll see a small link titled, “Is this your business?” Click it to be taken to the unlocking page. Click through to Step 1 and you’ll be asked to enter your name, contact information, then to choose a password.

Yelp wants to make sure you’re legit, so you’ll be asked receive an automated phone call. Yelp’s website will display a 4-digit numeric code. Just dial that when you get the call, and Yelp will give you the virtual keys to your online site.

You’ll be taken immediately to the Business Owners page. From here, you can provide details, images and other data about your business. You can engage with customers directly by setting up online deals and responding to reviews.

You can even access charts that show how much customers have checked out your page, and when.

Fill Out Your Business Information

The first and most crucial step after you’ve unlocked your page is adding all the information customers might want to know about your business.

It’s not just about keeping customers informed; the more information you put in, the more you’ll appear in searches, because would-be customers often search based on specific criteria in a listing — for example, a business that is reportedly “Open Now,” or which offers products and services within a particular price range.

It’s easy to do this. Just hit the “Business Information” link on the left-hand side of the Business Owners page, then click “Edit” next to any information you want to change or add.

Create Deals for Customers

 

 

 

Yelp gives you two ways to offer deals to customers to incentivize your business: offers on the business page, and check-in deals. Both are displayed on your page, in search results, and in a city-wide offers and announcements list.

The former simply advertises any specials or sales you have front and center on your page. The latter is for Yelp users who use the site’s check-in feature to let their friends know where they’re shopping, dining, or hanging out in the real world.

Regular checkins are a sign of customer loyalty, and they’re free advertising to those users’ contacts, so it’s a good idea to reward frequent visitors with deals.

You can set the terms of the deals yourself. Just click the “Offers & Announcements” link on the left, right next to the “Business Information” link.

Receive and Respond to Customer Reviews

Customers will visit your page after they patronize your business to create reviews and share their experiences with others. Obviously, this can be a good thing or a bad thing — a good review can bring you more business, while a bad review can turn prospective customers away.

Yelp won’t let you challenge or delete critical reviews, but you can pay to become a Yelp partner to highlight one particularly good review of your choosing at the top of your page. For the negative reviews, you can respond to address customers’ concerns either publicly or privately.

Don’t take a stand-offish approach when responding to reviews. You want to use Yelp’s conversational features to show that you care about customers’ feedback and are working to make their experience better.

To post your responses, just go to the “Reviews” section of your Business Owners page. Yelp has provided some helpful tips for maintaining a constructive and productive tone when dealing with unsatisfied customers.

What do you say?

Is your business already on Yelp? Ever get a really great review…or a really bad one?
Let us know by leaving a comment below and you could be featured on the next Fan Friday!