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More Yelp? Yes Please! Tips for generating real estate leads on Yelp

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I read Lani’s fine article last week about Yelp as a reputation management tool and I thought I would throw out some of my insight as a Yelp “sort of” insider.

A little background on Yelp.   A couple of years ago they were trying to build up a following in Nashville and approached me with an intriguing offer to write 50 reviews a week in return for a paycheck(something I hadn’t had in a while).  Alas, even though I’d never heard of them, I created my little profile and started cranking out some pithy useful tidbits at a hectic pace.  Now, because I know there has been some criticism of Yelp I want to clarify that I was NOT paid to write good or bad reviews, they did not specify what the reviews should say or who to review.  The parameters were they wanted local flavor and not big chains and they wanted engaging good tips and fun anecdotal reviews. It could be a park, a Dr., restaurant, hardware store, repairman, library anything.  In addition, they suggested I think long and hard before I made a terrible review and absolutely forbade me to write anything negative about a business competitor and/or to write anything related to my personal industry while I was on their payroll.    Sounds pretty ethical right?

After about a month or so and a few hundred reviews in, I began struggling to get 50 reviews in a week and let the gig go.   However, a funny thing started happening.  I would be out and about and often find my friends and acquaintances stopping me to say they had used one of my reviews to visit a restaurant or make a purchase.    Well doesn’t that beat all?  I had seriously taken this on as some side cash and fun because I’m a bit  opinionated but (insert light bulb in a bubble over my head here) I realized Yelp could be a HUGE business tool beyond just my own business page.

Yelp as a lead source:

I continue to use Yelp faithfully to this day and here is what I think makes it just as viable as Facebook and Twitter as a lead source:

1) SEO – Yelp has SEO we all opine for!!  For example if you google the term Ugly Mugs (my fave coffee shop in my neighborhood) they come in just under the actual shop’s site and sometimes they rank ahead of the purveyor google is indexing them for.  Anyway the text and review is mine on page one of Googles page is my review.   Woot – I  love being a neighborhood expert with some first page google ranking teeth in my game!

2)Now that I’m not under the constraint of writing about my industry, this year I intend to write reviews about my favorite vendors for a couple of reasons.  Here is one I did a while back for an appliance company that saved my fanny on a listing.   It was a tremendous opportunity to promote what I do on Yelp while providing useful information to the public.   In addition,  I love to send links of my reviews to the vendors I’ve written them for and let them know I appreciate them and want them to succeed.  It’s pretty darn easy to gain referrals from business associates that you not only send business to but also promote  in a very credible, useful way.

3)Yelp encourages Interaction not isolation.  They have a local public forum you can view from your profile page.  I’ve seen all kinds of great topics including ones about folks looking to relocate in to the area and wondering about neighborhoods.    Yelp Elite – If you write enough reviews and get enough of a following then Yelp invites you to be a part of their Elite Squad and that gets you in the door to all kind of fun events with other Yelp contributors.  Hmmmm… an exclusive audience with people in your community who freely spend time passing on tips about their favorite products and services, wouldn’t that be useful?

4)Yelp integrates with other social networks.  When you write a review you can opt to have it go to your Facebook wall and on your Twitter feed.   I frequently get lots of traction from reviews through both of those sources.  In addition,  Facebook has a similar application to FourSquare so you can download the app to your mobile phone and start checking in all over town.

5) Have you heard of Bling your Blog?  This is a fun little tool provided free of charge.  Yelp automatically maps your most recent reviews and allows the map widget to rest on your profile page.  If you click below your profile name or on the bottom of the map the term “bling your blog” you will be redirected to a page with that map where you can completely customize the color and size of it to match your blog.  It will then generate simple html code for you to cut and past on to your homepage or whatever page you wish it to reside on.   In addition WordPress has Yelp Bar which is a cool little plug in that will display Yelp reviews of your business on your site should you be lucky enough to have any.

Just scratching the surface

Now that I’ve discussed some cool ways to use Yelp (and I personally think I’m just scratching the surface), I want to make some suggestions on how you should not screw up Yelp.  Don’t post bogus, even if they are nice, reviews because over time the site will lose credibility.   Don’t post self promotional things about yourself on Yelp because in time the site will become cluttered with every business hack blindly doing it (a bit like Twitter) and the site will lose credibility.   Don’t get upset if you end up with a bad review or two, conversation is healthy.  Don’t slam businesses for sport or in competition with you because you and the site will lose credibility.

Do be authentic, engaging, yourself, funny, useful, and informative just like we have all been told on other social networking sites.   Yelp is a cool tool with tremendous potential that has managed to stay under the “spam the world with useless content for the sake of posting something” radar.   Go and use your Genius, report back to me on what cool new ways innovations you are creating with Yelp, but for god sakes please keep it real.

Anna Altic – Village Real Estate Services. I’ve called Nashville home for the last 15 years and have been practicing (practice being the key word here) real estate for just over 6 years. In the fall of 2007, I went to a local German Festival that had a home tour, including a LEED certified property, and I instantly became enamored with the idea of eco friendly living (ok, so I’d had a little beer and the dual flush toilet rocked my world). I have since devoted much of my time and energies in to studying and espousing the benefits of better building technology within our local residential market and my proudest accomplishment thus far has been successfully leading the initiative to get over 25 green features added to our MLS search fields.

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27 Comments

27 Comments

  1. Karen Goodman

    April 24, 2011 at 3:08 pm

    Thanks for the push to get started with Yelp. I had good intentions and signed up last year, but never did anything with it. Just fixed up my profile, and posted some reviews and local pictures. Now to keep it up!

    If anyone wants to connect on yelp, I'm:

    https://karenstl.yelp.com/

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Business Marketing

How Instagram’s latest redesign is more sinister than it seems

(MARKETING) Instagram’s latest updates have all but repurposed the app into an online mall – one that tracks everything you see, say, and buy on it.

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Woman in hijab taking photo on her smartphone for Instagram, affected by the redesign.

Instagram started the new year off with a makeover in their latest redesign. The notifications button teleported to the top of the screen in the app’s new design, and now the “Shopping” button is in its place.

It’s a subtle yet insidious switch. You’re much more likely to select the marketplace out of habit, by accident, when searching your next dose of online validation.

The app has always been a vital tool for artists, craftspeople, and small businesses to promote their work — including myself. And the new redesign is intended to boost the visibility of those groups. At least, that’s Instagram’s argument.

In an article for The Conversation, Nazanin Andalibi of the University of Michigan School of Information provides a glimpse of what’s going on behind the scenes.

“By choosing to make the Shop tab central to its platform,” she writes, “Instagram is sending its users a message: This platform is a business, and interactions on this platform are going to be commodified.”

As an advertiser, Instagram’s popularity has exploded in the last decade. Even big pharma is in on the surge, with seventy pharmaceutical companies purchasing ads on the app in 2020. (That made it the fastest growing pharma advertiser of the year.)

As we know, Instagram not only runs ads, but also uses user information to filter who sees what advertisements. Now, shopping is explicitly a central function of the app. It sometimes feels like a digital mall… And that’s not really what people signed up for.

I’ve had my account for since I was a teenager, and the experience I have using the app today is totally different from what it once was. For one, it’s increasingly difficult to differentiate paid ads from regular user content on Instagram.

And second, I use Instagram to promote my work, but I don’t feel comfortable sharing personal details about myself anymore.

Because, to use Anadalibi’s words: “Sharing or seeking information about a difficult, personal experience on a social media platform and then having the platform capitalize on an algorithmic understanding of the experience–which might or might not be accurate–is problematic.”

That goes doubly so for youth, who may not be fully aware of that engineering.

For instance, a teenager searching for body positive posts might receive personalized ad results for weight loss programs. A human would probably realize that’s an inappropriate, even triggering suggestion. But algorithms don’t think that way.

Alongside the redesign update, Instagram has also faces recent criticism for their Community Guidelines, which prevent suggestive and explicit images and speech.

And whether you agree with the guidelines or not, don’t be fooled. Instagram isn’t concerned with uplifting its creators, or protecting its young users. Their only goal is protecting their new bottom line, and staying as ad-friendly as possible.

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Business Marketing

Ghost Reply has us asking: Should you shame a recruiter who ghosted you?

(BUSINESS MARKETING) Ghost Reply will send an anonymous “kind reminder” to recruiters who ghost job candidates, but is the sweet taste of temporary catharsis worth it?

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Stressed woman at a laptop with hands on head, considering if she should send a Ghost Reply.

People hate to get “ghosted” in any situation, personal or professional. But for job seekers who may already be struggling with self-esteem, it can be particularly devastating. Ghost Reply is a new online service that will help you compose and send an email nudge to the ghoster, sending a “kind reminder” telling them how unprofessional it is to leave someone hanging like that.

Ghost Reply wants to help you reach catharsis in all of this stressful mess of finding a job. Almost all of the problems and feelings are compounded by this confounded pandemic that has decimated areas of the workforce and taken jobs and threatened people’s financial security. It is understandable to want to lash out at those in power, and sending a Ghost Reply email to the recruiter or HR person may make you feel better in the short term.

In the long run, though, will it solve anything? Ghost Reply suggests it may make the HR person or recruiter reevaluate their hiring processes, indicating this type of email may help them see the error of their ways and start replying to all potential candidates. If it helps them reassess and be more considerate in the future and helps you find closure in the application/interview process, that would be the ideal outcome on all fronts. It is not likely this will happen, though.

The Ghost Reply sample email has the subject line “You have a message from a candidate!” Then it begins, “Hi, (name), You’re receiving this email because a past candidate feels like you ghosted them unfairly.” It then has a space for said candidate to add on any personal notes regarding the recruiter or process while remaining anonymous.

I get it. It’s upsetting to have someone disappear after you’ve spent time and energy applying, possibly even interviewing, only to hear nothing but crickets back from the recruiter or HR person you interacted with. It’s happened to me more than once, and it’s no bueno. We all want to be seen. We all want to be valued. Ghosting is hurtful. The frustration and disappointment, even anger, that you feel is certainly relatable. According to several sources, being ghosted after applying for a job is one of the top complaints from job seekers on the market today.

Will an anonymous, passive-aggressive email achieve your end? Will the chastened company representative suddenly have a lightbulb go off over their heads, creating a wave of change in company policy? I don’t see it. The first sentence of the sample email, in fact, is not going to be well received by HR.

When you start talking about what’s “unfair,” most HR people will tune out immediately. That kind of language in itself is unprofessional and is a red flag to many people. Once you work at a company and know its culture and have built relationships, then, maybe, just maybe, can you start talking about your work-related feelings. I believe in talking about our feelings, but rarely is a work scenario the best place to do so (I speak from experience). Calling it unprofessional is better, less about you and more about the other person’s behavior.

However, it’s unclear how productive Ghost Reply actually is. Or how anonymous, frankly. By process of deduction, the recipient of the email may be able to figure out who sent it, if it even makes it through the company’s spam filters. Even if they cannot pinpoint the exact person, it may cast doubts on several applicants or leave a bad taste in the recruiter’s mouth. It sounds like sour grapes, which is never a good thing.

There may be any number of reasons you didn’t get the job offer or interview, and they may or may not have something to do with you. Recruiters answer your burning questions, including why you may have been ghosted in this recent article in The American Genius.

Ultimately, you will never know why they ghosted you. If it makes you feel better or at least see the issue from both sides, the amount of job candidates ghosting recruiters after applying and even interviewing is equally high. Some people simply either have awful time management skills or awful manners, and at the end of the day, there’s not much you can do about that.

Focus on your own survival while job hunting, instead of these disappointing moments or the person who ghosts you. It will serve you better in the long run than some anonymous revenge email. There are other ways to deal with your frustration and anger when you do get ghosted, though. Try the classic punching your pillow. Try taking a walk around the block. If it helps to put your frustration into words, and it very well may, then do so. Write it on a piece of paper, then burn it. Or type it all in an email and delete it. For your own sake, do NOT put their email address in the “To” line, lest you accidentally hit “Send.”

The sooner you can let it go, the sooner you can move on to finding a better job fit for you.

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Business Marketing

Free shipping is everywhere… how can small businesses keep up?

[BUSINESS MARKETING] Would you rather pay less but still pay for shipping, or pay more with free shipping? They may cost the same, but one appeals more than the other.

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Person standing over pacakge, sealing with masking tape.

When it comes to competing with huge corporations like Amazon, there are plenty of hurdles that smaller businesses have to cross. Corporations can (and do) undercut the competition, not to mention garner a much larger marketing reach than most small businesses could ever dream of achieving. But this time, we want to focus on something that most people have probably chosen recently: Free shipping.

How important is free shipping to consumers? Well, in a 2018 survey, Internet Retailer discovered that over 50% of respondents said that free shipping was the most important part of online shopping. In fact, when given a choice between fast or costless shipping, a whopping 88% of those surveyed chose the latter option.

Part of this has to do with the fact that shipping costs are often perceived as additional fees, not unlike taxes or a processing fee. In fact, according to Ravi Dhar, director of Yale’s Center for Customer Insights, if it’s between a discounted item with a shipping fee or a marked up item with free shipping, individuals are more likely to choose the latter – even if both options cost exactly the same amount.

If you’re interested in learning more, Dhar refers to the economic principle of “pain of paying,” but the short answer is simply that humans are weird.

So, how do you recapture the business of an audience that’s obsessed with free shipping?

The knee jerk reaction is to simply provide better products that the competition. And sure, that works… to some extent. Unfortunately, in a world where algorithms can have a large effect on business, making quality products might not always cut it. For instance, Etsy recently implemented a change in algorithm to prioritize sellers that offer free shipping.

Another solution is to eat the costs and offer free shipping, but unless that creates a massive increase in products sold, you’re going to end up with lower profits. This might work if it’s between lower profits and none, but it’s certainly not ideal. That’s why many sellers have started to include shipping prices in the product’s overall price – instead of a $20 necklace with $5 shipping, a seller would offer a $25 necklace with free shipping.

This is a tactic that the big businesses use and it works. If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em, right?

That said, not everyone can join in. Maybe, for instance, a product is too big to reasonably merge shipping and product prices. If, for whatever reason, you can’t join in, it’s also worth finding a niche audience and pushing a marketing campaign. What do you offer that might be more attractive than the alluring free shipping? Are you eco-friendly? Do you provide handmade goods? Whatever it is that makes your business special, capitalize on it.

Finally, if you’re feeling down about the free shipping predicament, remember that corporations have access to other tricks. Amazon’s “free” prime shipping comes at an annual cost. Wal-Mart can take a hit when item pricing doesn’t work out. Even if your business isn’t doing as well as you hoped, take heart: You’re facing giants.

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