Cali BBQ Media is all about being active on social media and all about claiming your Yelp page.
But what if you could combine the personal connection of social media with the concentrated audience of Yelp? You can. Enter Yelp Connect.
Speaking with former Digital Hospitality podcast alum Emily Washcovick, the Senior Field Marketing Manager and Small Business Expert at Yelp is always on the cutting edge of connecting business owners with consumers. Yelp Connect proves to be the latest tool to better build that bridge and it is doing so in a more targeted and efficient way than ever.
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“Yelp Connect already has a curated audience for restaurants or businesses,” explains Emily Washcovick.
“Shawn Walchef (Cali BBQ Media Founder) describes Yelp Connect as this curated feed, because on Instagram for example, you can have 20,000 followers but they might be all over the globe.
“But when you’re talking about getting people to transact and buy food in each city, it’s better to be a little bit more hyper local.”
For many business owners, hyper local matters.
Why is it important to be hyper local? Social media allows you to interact with the entire world, but Yelp Connect allows business owners with a Yelp page to better engage with people near you. This could mean residents and regulars of where you set up shop or those traveling to your city.
Everyone you connect with online are either current or potential customers.
This targeted engagement keeps business pages from getting lost in the sauce and allows owners to update their target audience all while updating their core Yelp page.
VIDEO: Yelp Connect is a Game Changing Social Media Platform for Businesses
As Emily mentions, Cali BBQ Media Founder Shawn Walchef is a marquee operator when it comes to claiming his Yelp page and updating Yelp Connect.
“On Yelp Connect those posts that Shawn’s making and that information he’s sharing goes to people who have already bookmarked his business,” says Emily Washcovick.
“His audience has already shown interest or they’re within the service area and have looked for barbecue before. Shawn is a great example of someone using Yelp Connect the right way. He has 13,000 followers on Yelp Connect and those are all basically hyper local and targeted audience members or followers because of the platform itself.”
Social Media for Business
While Yelp Connect serves as somewhat of a hybrid between Yelp and other social media like Instagram or Twitter, it’s not all about pushing promotions or driving sales.
Like standard social media, the use of storytelling and honest engagement with your audience is key for connection and brand building on Yelp Connect.
“Shawn does a really good job on Yelp Connect and on social media by just being real, open and direct about what they’re going through,” Emily Washcovick says.
“He doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything; he just tells them exactly what’s up. That’s extremely valuable and good for any business owner right now. There are so many unknowns and I think that the ones who are always erring on the side of professionalism or this polished message, or the perfect post, are not necessarily reaching their customers at a high rate.”
So, even though Yelp Connect is definitely a business tool, treating it an overly buttoned up manner isn’t what it’s all about.
Like anything else in life, the real rises.
“People are engaged at a higher rate because of authenticity,” notes Emily. “A video of Shawn’s team in the kitchen showing how the entire restaurant is now essentially an assembly line is really personal and it’s letting people behind the curtain. If you as a business are presenting that behind the curtain content, you get a lot more engagement back from your customers.”
Like any good online connection tool, Yelp Connect is about building community. Because it offers a more localized approach, nearby followers and visitors can feel both connected and informed with every update.
“Updates on Yelp Connect can be everything from launching a new beverage item that you can purchase now to-go all the way to finding updates about what they’re doing as a business just to give a little bit of an insight into what’s coming next.”
This is something Cali BBQ’s Shawn Walchef knows well and implements often.
“Every single week we’ve been putting out content,” says Shawn Walchef about using Yelp for his restaurant business. “We’ve been using Yelp Connect the same way we use Instagram and we’ve been getting such a higher engagement rate than any of our social media platforms.”
Clearly, Yelp Connect is great for restaurants. But like Yelp Business in general, it’s a must for any type of business.
“If you are a business owner and do not have a page, you need to get one,” adds American Factory Wheel owner Josh Casillas. “It doesn’t matter what type of industry you are in.”
Basically, if you’re a business owner and want to talk directly to your core audience, it doesn’t get much better than Yelp Connect.
VIDEO: Listen, Engage, and Take the High Road on Yelp for Business
“Yelp Connect is definitely about connecting businesses to consumers,” says Emily Washcovick. “Yelp Connect updates allow a business owner to alert the people on Yelp who are following them or have bookmarked their business page or people who are searching for that relevant service or product that they offer in their geotargeted location. When an owner updates Yelp Connect, it has two benefits to them as it also updates their Yelp listing, but they only have to do one thing.”
Two birds, one stone.
Yelp Provides Health and Safety Resources
Yelp Connect has proven particularly important in 2020 and beyond when considering new practices like social distancing, pick-up options and if masks are required.
“Consumers can search for things tied to health and safety,” mentions Emily Washcovick. “We notice when there’s an uptick on either a business or a consumer interest that’s trending across the country. We try to create resources around those interests to allow that communication to happen, to allow those searches to get connected.”
Updating these policies about your business is more important than ever.
While having the right practices in your space is important, updating your Yelp page online to denote it matters when consumers are deciding who gets their dollar.
“Do you have social distancing enforced in your business?” Emily asks business owners in regard to their Yelp page. “If you don’t have that indicated, even if you are doing it in person, you’re not going to be a relevant search for that consumer.”
In a world where online searches impact business more than ever, 2020 has served as the perfect year to launch Yelp Connect.
The pandemic adjustments have made being digitally savvy more important than ever. In addition, the social landscape of our country has impacted where customers shop and support.
“The biggest thing that we try to look for is feedback from the consumers and feedback from the business owners,” shares Emily Washcovick. “After the death of George Floyd and rise around the Black Lives Matter movement, there was a huge increase in searches on our platform for black owned businesses. People wanted specifically to see if they could buy and support those businesses. So, we created an attribute where businesses could indicate not only if they’re black owned, but if they’re any Latin X heritage owned as well.”
Yelp Connect is offering the resources for customers to shop safely, smartly and consciously in 2020.
Just the same, it’s allowing business owners to track engagement with the audience closest to their core. Real life updates mixed with on-time metrics has Yelp Connect coming off as a game-changer.
“Every single week we get a roundup that tells how many people are engaging with each post,” smiles Shawn. “Yelp Connect is an incredible new feature.”
Learn more about Yelp Connect on the Official Yelp Blog to see how it helps restaurants communicate with customers and share updates with customers both new and future.
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