The following post is based on a discussion at the Cincinnati Social Media LinkedIn Group.
In what seems to be a race to oversimplify EVERYTHING, we're creating misdefinitions. In many cases there's simply (a lot) more to the story.
Social media provides the latest example. Do you know anyone with "T&F Tunnel Vision?" This unfortunate condition involves the assumption that the social media landscape starts and ends with Twitter and Facebook.
I've ranted about this before -- more than a few times. And I'm taking this well-worn soapbox with me down to SXSW for a panel discussion I'm on with David Binkowski and Krista Neher about influencers. Simple math shows the folly in T&F Tunnel Vision and Geoff Livingston deconstructs Twitter in a recent post.
Recently I was reminded about an uber-important site for any local strategy -- Yelp.
Think Local, Act Social (with Yelp)
Alex Shebar and I connected recently so I could get up to speed on his role as Yelp's Cincinnati community manager as well as some functionality to the site of which I was unaware. I've used Yelp before. But until recently I had not visited frequently/regularly.
It's safe to say I'm a minority in Cincinnati. Ohio has community managers in three cities: Cincinnati, Columbus and Cleveland. That's rare and speaks to our level of activity on the site. States larger than ours have only one manager in one city.
Yelp became a bigger focus for me when looking at how small businesses are using social media. In a recent presentation, I spent more time discussing Yelp than I did Twitter, Facebook or LinkedIn. It's because small businesses stand to benefit by focusing their time and effort on Yelp.
Word of Mouth "is the primary factor behind 20 to 50 percent of all purchasing decisions" per NM Incite. And Yelp's community is just that. It's tagline is "real people. real reviews." Search is the place to start to determine where your customers are talking about your brand. And these reviews can impact search results in a big way. So even if your customers aren't hitting Yelp, they might be reading the reviews via search results.
So what can businesses do to step up their Yelp presence? Alex gave me two links as the perfect examples.
** Business Owner's Guide to Yelp: This section of the site shows you how to claim your page, respond to reviews and even buy ads. It lays it out step by step.
** Check-In Offers: This is similar to checking in on Foursquare, but focused more on easily-customized customer incentives. "It provides a measurable way to reward your most loyal customers while attracting new ones."
Based on the type of business, Yelp can be a valuable tool for building word of mouth. You should check and see where your company/your clients shake out. And if you have a great experience retail, food, drink or otherwise? Spread the word on Yelp.
As Alex noted in our conversation, "if you find yourself sitting at home complaining that there's nothing to do, you have no excuse. There's plenty to do. You just need a site to help you find it."
Driving Miss Social Media
Everyone wants a dependable car that gives them no problems, performs well and gets the job done. But everyone wants to be seen in the sports car that's getting a tune up as much as it's parking a mile from the building so no one scratches the paint job.
Did I just call Twitter a Ferrari and Yelp a Honda Accord? I'm being dramatic to make a point. But, yeah, there are popular sites and their are relevant sites. Relevant sites are different for every brand and for every customer segment. Relevance wins.
I think I just named a new line of cars. Make check payable to...
Full disclosure: I decided to create this post after the discussion with Alex and due to my recent focus on the site. I did not "unlock any offers" by doing so. In fact, I had to bug Alex to send me the links.