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Thoughts from Mike Templeton | Yelping All Over Town
Thoughts on marketing, social media, and web strategy

Mike Templeton is an experienced marketer with a history in building community on the web.

For Mike's reactions to what others are writing about social media, visit Mike Memos.

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Yelping All Over Town

If you haven’t heard of Yelp before, now is the time to check it out.

Yelp is “the fun and easy way to find, review and talk about what’s great (and not so great) in your world.”

In my own words, Yelp is a website where you can find addresses, photos, phone numbers and reviews of local businesses in your area. Instead of flipping through the Yellow Pages or skimming Google when you’re looking for a good place to eat, simply log on to your local Yelp section and find exactly what you’re after. Yelp also has a mobile version available for those with web-enabled phones (which makes the service even more feasible because its always with you).

I first learned about Yelp several months ago when someone from the Seattle area was talking about how she used Yelp to help promote the place she worked at. She explained that through building her Yelp profile and giving honest reviews of local businesses, she was able to make a name for herself as an expert “Yelper” in the area. As more and more locals learned about her and what it was that she did (marketing manager at a credit union), she became the resident “financial expert” in the eyes of other users. Whenever a financial question would pop up in the online community, she was the first person everyone talked to. Through all of this reputation building for her own name, it also helped elevate her employer’s level of awareness in the area and theoretically aided in driving more traffic through their doors.

After hearing the story about her experience with Yelp, I was interested to see what was happening with Yelpers in my area. Unfortunately, as I soon realized, not much at all was happening, neither in Ankeny or Des Moines. There is some traffic and usage, though not nearly as great as the Yelp hot spots like San Francisco (where Yelp started) or Seattle.

Being a lover of all things social media, I’ve taken it upon myself to embrace this website and to try to do my part in helping building the local Yelp community. I’m nowhere near the Yelp Elite level, but maybe it’s something I can aspire to be. :)

I’d also like to try leveraging the site for local businesses as a central feedback mechanism and see what kind of impact it has on business. Some eateries haven’t been quite so happy with Yelp (due to some public, negative reviews), but I think the purpose behind the site is good. In today’s highly interconnected world, if someone doesn’t like your business or has a negative opinion to voice, people are going to hear about it one way or the other, so why not just embrace the medium and see it as an opportunity to grow?

As a website trying to succeed in the Web 2.0 space, I think Yelp is doing a fine job. Everything they display comes directly from the users. Users submit the photos, write the reviews, add new business listings, update old data and help promote the site. I’m happy to be a user and can’t wait to see more locals using it.

For some of my latest reviews, check out Rookies Sports Bar & Grill, Breadeaux Pizza, Cafe Diem and Noodle Zoo. Be sure to add me as a friend once you get signed up on the site.

Happy Yelping!

2 Responses to “Yelping All Over Town”

  1. Ari says:

    Good suggestion Mike. I’ve been yelping for a year now. I’m curious by your definition of it as a Web 2.0 site, as it’s existed for several years. Would you call the IMDb a Web 2.0 site too, as the two are not very unlike?

  2. @Ari: Thanks for the comment. Here’s my take on Web 2.0:

    Though the “Web 2.0″ term wasn’t coined until late 2005, the aspects and features of Web 2.0 websites existed long before then.

    Yelp, which started in 2004, is an excellent example of a site that epitomizes those features. The site depends on audience interaction and user-generated content to survive. Without that discussion and ever-evolving content, Yelp would have died long ago. Also, an important aspect of Web 2.0 in my mind is that the site must continue to grow and develop with the times. As mobile browsing has become more popular, Yelp has launched a mobile version. People wanted to share their Yelp reviews on other websites, so Yelp developed review widgets for users to place anywhere. It’s things like this that help solidify Yelp’s existence in the Web 2.0 space.

    As for a site like IMDb, I believe that many of the key features are there (discussion topics, user created movie lists, ratings and reviews), but where I see them lacking is the interaction with the rest of the online world. They do have great interaction with their own audience, but I would like to see tie-in’s between IMDb and FriendFeed, Facebook, Twitter or other social sites out there. Creating those additional connections and making it easy for users to stretch IMDb beyond its own website are also very important to Web 2.0.

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