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The Social Network (Addict): Yelp.com for Pros

I check in on real-life friends on Facebook. I chat with internet friends via Twitter. I check out the best businesses in my area using Yelp. I track my reading progress with Goodreads. I blog about what’s happening in all of my fandoms on Tumblr. I see how much and what types of music I’ve been listening to with Last.fm. I put together my Pilates workouts using YouTube.

What does it all mean? What are you going to get out of signing up for tons of different social networks that track so many seemingly mundane things? I’d really like to answer that question, not just for others but also for myself! So here it is: a series on various social networks and how to best utilize them.

Last time we took a look at how users who are new to Yelp could and should best utilize this awesome local business review site. This time around, we’re going to delve into the nitty-gritty and look past simply reviewing places into all of the awesome extras Yelp has to offer! I’m actually very excited to note that since my original article about Yelp.com, I was nominated for (and accepted!) Yelp’s Elite status, which I will discuss in more detail later on.

Image Credit: Yelp

Image Credit: Yelp

One of the best and most underused ways to get the most out of Yelp is to rate other users’ reviews. At the bottom of each user’s review is the UFC rating system that Yelp uses; that is to say, “Useful,” “Funny,” and “Cool.” If you see a review that fits one of the above criteria, SAY SO. Click that cute little button and help not only the reviewer know that they published an awesome review that helped you out, but others in the Yelp community who will read that review and see that it has influence. Anyone can review a business, but the ability to show others that “Yes, this review helped me out when considering this establishment” or “This person writes really entertaining reviews” gives weight to the reviews people are posting. So if someone’s review has helped you out, help them out by taking advantage of the UFC system and making Yelp that much more dynamic and user-friendly!

Of course, there’s still more to the social side of Yelp to discuss. When it comes to adding friends and/or following other users’ reviews, there doesn’t seem to be much difference apart from how you categorize them. Personally, I only add someone as a friend if they live in a nearby area, or if it’s a real-life friend (yeah, I have those!) from out of state. However, if someone has awesome reviews and seems to be a generally awesome person, I’ll click the “follow” button. It gives me something to work towards as far as the types of places I’m reviewing and what I can do to make my reviews that much better. I follow people I admire, I add people who are local. But as I mentioned above, use your own discretion when adding and following other users. If you want to add everyone who sends a request so you can build up your Yelp networks, go for it! It’s your Yelp experience, so make it how you want it to be!

When someone in real life takes the time to acknowledge that “Hey, you’re an awesome person!” or “You’re doing a great job!” it feels good! That’s what Yelp’s Compliments system is all about. If you really enjoyed a Yelper’s list of wedding venues to avoid, or you’re a breakfast fiend who found a list of the most awesome hidden breakfast nooks in the city, be sure to let that user know! I didn’t realize I had been featured in the Weekly Yelp newsletter for my city until someone complimented me on it and told me to keep writing awesome reviews. I would’ve missed my fifteen minutes of Yelp fame otherwise! Compliments are also a great way to gain social karma on Yelp; be nice to others, and others will be nice to you. It’s a great icebreaker when getting to know your fellow Yelpers, especially if you’re looking to find some local buddies to dine out with!

Lists are amazing. No, truly. I would not be able to function in everyday society without them. Thankfully, many other Yelpers feel the same! Creating lists can be a great roadmap for people figuring out where to go and what to do in your local area, and it can also be a way for you to track places you’ve been to that are awesome (or notsome). I’ve noticed that lists can come in handy with everything from wedding vendors to date night restaurants to tourist attractions and hidden gems in every city. Help promote your local area and create a few lists about the awesome places to see and things to do where you live! Also, once you get rolling with reviewing be sure to start a few lists to help organize your reviews. It’s a great way to quickly find reviews of places you’ve already visited. That way, when you’re looking to upload a photo of the business or want to write an update review, everything is already neatly categorized!

Check-ins! If you’re used to Foursquare or Facebook Places, you’re already familiar with the idea that “checking in” to a place (using your smartphone to tag your current GPS location at a particular business or location) can get you freebies or discounts if the location offers it. Yelp has a very similar system, so if you continue to visit a particular location after giving it a review, be sure to whip out your snazzy smartphone of choice and see what rewards you can snag! And be sure to leave a return review as well letting people know whether that business continued to live up to your expectations…or not. You can earn badges for the types of business you’re checking into (e.g. Sushi Sensei), and you’ll end up on the leaderboards for your city. Personally, check-in systems scare the ever-living out of me so I avoid them like the plague. But if you’re comfortable with it, pretty up your profile and see what great offers you can snag!

Image Credit: Yelp

Yelp has a pretty unique feature that they offer their community of users: Elite. And yes, it’s as cool as it sounds. Essentially, users who feel they meet the criteria can apply for Elite status (or they can be nominated by others), which puts them into a group of the crème de la crème of Yelpers. These people all have “well-written reviews, a fleshed-out personal profile, an active voting and complimenting record, and playing nice with others” (Yelp.com). They have access to monthly Yelp get-togethers in their area, they can snag freebie Yelp merchandise, and get a shiny badge on their profile announcing to the rest of the Yelp community that they know what’s what in their neighborhood. You’ll get to go to Secret Dinner Club events at new and interesting locations in your local area, and meet your fellow local Yelpers. It’s almost like being the mayor of a location on Foursquare, but better. You get to go to free (!!!) epic parties and get free (!!!) swag. Score!

Hopefully with these more advanced tips, as well as my original article on how to establish yourself as a Yelp newbie, you’ll be able to navigate Yelp more easily and reap the benefits of such a diverse and awesome website. In this day and age where people are relying more heavily on the internet for everyday needs, being able to give concise and thoughtful reviews of local businesses can make a huge difference for others figuring out where to go and what to do. Whether you’re new to a city or want to explore your hometown further, Yelp is an amazing site that can guide you in the right direction!

Stay tuned for more from The Social Network (Addict) series!

About the Author

Emma Craighead is a contributing writer to The Hudsucker when she’s not playing Dungeons & Dragons, screaming at her iPhone while playing Angry Birds, or finishing up her Bachelor’s Degree in Social Studies Education. She also spends way too much time on way too many social networking sites. Emma currently lives in Denver, CO, and you can follow her at her personal blog and on Twitter as @efcraig.

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