It’s easy to get caught up in the rat race of chasing Facebook algorithms and remembering to post on Instagram. But when most businesses only have to worry about the Big Five (Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and Pinterest), restaurants have another big platform to add to the list: Yelp!
Strategically using Yelp! for restaurant marketing is one of the best things you can do to build relationships with customers and drive more traffic through your doors, but as with all social platforms, you can’t expect people to flock to you and make your profile come alive. You’ve got to take the right steps in boosting your page and getting it to work for you.
Here are our top 5 recommendation for what you must be doing to boost your Yelp! page:
1.) Get Ownership of Your Yelp! Profile
This one should go without saying, but it’s always a surprise when we hear that some restaurant managers don’t know they can control their Yelp! profile.
No, not control in the sense that you can alter your restaurant’s rating, but you can claim ownership of a pre-existing page or set up a page if you’re a new restaurant to start establishing your presence on social media.
Whether your restaurant has been on the block for awhile, or you haven’t opened your doors yet, get ahold of that virtual real estate that belongs to your restaurant.
2.) Responding to Reviews
One of the perks of owning your page? You’re able to answer to the reviews your customers post.
Just like engagement you would receive on your Facebook page or Instagram posts, you need to give a thoughtful, gracious response to everyone who leaves a review whether it’s a positive one or a negative one.
While a standard “thank you for visiting” or “glad you enjoyed your meal” is fine for a positive review, the negative reviews are where you’ll want to put in more work. We suggest kindly acknowledging the criticism publicly, taking the conversation offline, and creating an experience that remedies the situation and, if possible, turns that negative review into a life-long raving fan.
3.) Offering an incentive
Want to increase the number of Yelp! check-ins on your profile? Offer a free appetizer or extended happy hour deal to those who take advantage of your incentive.
And don’t think the incentive has to be over-the-top or incredibly creative. Patrons will always get excited about a good deal, especially when it comes as instant gratification after taking a simple action.
The key to leveraging your incentive is making sure you communicate it properly through cross-platform social media promotion (i.e. post it on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter), in-restaurant promotion via table tents/menu inserts, and your servers mentioning it at their first trip to the table.
4.) Taking Note of Your Top Reviewers
If you’re not very active on Yelp!, which you should be, you might not know that frequent Yelp! reviewers who leave quality reviews gain clout on the Yelp! platform, which you can see by the thumbnail of their profile picture.
In that area you can see how many reviews they’ve given on Yelp!, how many friends/followers they have, and if they’re an “Elite” Yelper.
It’s worth taking note of and exploring the profiles of these people because you may find they would be excellent people to collaborate with concerning using influencer outreach to promote an event, promo a sneak peek menu and a ton of other ideas.
5.) Asking for the Review
Finally, the most crucial aspect to anything you’re trying to sell people on is you’ve got to ask for it.
Sure, some people love to give their opinions and leave Yelp! reviews, but many users go to Yelp! to make a decision on eating at a restaurant, but they won’t take the extra step afterward to leave their own review.
Asking for a review needs to be clear, yet not too pushy, so this is best left up to your servers to ask their customers that they leave a review and give them with something with a reminder whether that’s a call-to-action line on the receipt or a specially-made card like the one shown above.
As you can see, Yelp! certainly isn’t a social media platform you want to ignore, even if it doesn’t fall into the Big Five. If you take actions such as the ones outlined above to boost your Yelp! profile, you’ll not only build relationships with customers and drive more traffic through your doors, but you’ll also get some additional perks with boosted SEO.