Yelp is a valuable tool for finding great restaurants, shops, activities and even coworking spaces. It’s also a massive community of people sharing their experiences. Yelp users have left well over 100 million reviews.
Because the directory and review platform is so popular, it’s a great way to promote your shared workspace. You can attract new members, promote services and specials, boost SEO and establish yourself locally.
I chatted with Satellite Workspace manager Jessica Kearney about the best ways to use Yelp to promote a shared workspace. Here are her best tips:
1. Complete Your Yelp Profile
First things first: create and complete your Yelp profile. Fill out all the fields to make sure Yelp users have access to all the information they’re looking for.
2. Let Your Workspace and Company Shine
Use Yelp to shine a spotlight on your company, your workspace and your community. “Yelp is a great platform to really tell the story of your company,” says Kearney.
Kearney advises including any specialties or differentiating factors about your workspace, offerings and services, as well as a blurb about the history of the company and community.
3. Showcase Your Workspace Team
Include information and a photo about the founder, community manager or team in your Yelp profile. This personalizes your space and can help it stand out.
“People want to feel like they’re reaching out to a specific person, not just a large company,” says Kearney
4. Recommend Neighboring and Partner Businesses
Yelp includes a section to recommend other businesses. For your shared workspace, that may include lunch spots, gyms, yoga studios, bookshops and nearby coffee shops.
“Recommending other businesses will help build your referral network,” says Kearney. “And if you recommend other businesses, they’re more likely to recommend you.”
5. Share the Best Photos of Your Workspace
Put the best photos you have of your workspace on Yelp. Like Google Places, Yelp lets users upload photos, and they may not all be high-quality photos. Make sure that you have plenty of pro-quality photos on your profile so potential members and guests can see the space looking its best.
6. Consider Yelp Ads
Once you create your profile, Yelp will reach out to you with a special for their ads. Yelp ads can be an effective way to drive traffic and encourage activity, such as user reviews, on your Yelp page—especially for new workspaces. Kearney advises creating a profile then waiting for Yelp to reach out before running any ads. The company will likely send you an offer for free advertising for a given period.
Note: One of the drawbacks of Yelp advertising is that the company requires a time commitment. For instance, they may offer three months free, but they’ll require that you pay for ads for a year.
7. Let the Yelp Team Help
Yelp salespeople will reach out regularly to try to sell you ads. As Kearney explains, they are “probably the most persistent salespeople out of everybody out there.”
Whether or not you plan to advertise with Yelp, take advantage of the company’s willingness to help you optimize your Yelp profile page. The first time they call, a company representative will go through your Yelp posting with you and give you suggestions to improve it. Take them up on this, as you’ll get valuable insider tips.
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8. Respond to Bad Reviews
Bad reviews come with the territory on Yelp. Responding to bad reviews is absolutely essential for workspace operators. You can have 30 great reviews and two bad ones, and people will read the bad ones.
Bad reviews can be especially frustrating for workspace operators if they’re untrue. You still have to respond in a professional manner because your response reflects on your company, now and down the road. Long after you’ve moved on, people will still be reading that bad review and your response to it.
Before posting a public comment on a review, send the Yelp user a private message addressing their concerns. When you address the person’s concerns personally, they may take down their bad review. If they don’t take it down after you reach out, then you can post your response publicly.
“It’s really upsetting to get a bad Yelp review, especially when it has no truth in it,” says Kearney. “But you can’t control the reviews. You can send Yelp a message saying it’s untrue, but it’s unlikely they’ll take it down. They almost never take down reviews.”
Some people will post a bad review that has nothing to do with the service or the space—they just don’t like your business model. There’s nothing you can do about that, other than responding in a calm, clear manner. Responding this way can actually benefit your business—you can take the opportunity to showcase your company, your space and your community in a positive light.
Kearney advises the following for dealing with bad reviews:
- Calm down before responding. “You may want to give it a day,” she says.
- Don’t be emotional
- Don’t be confrontational
- Let them know you’re sorry they had a bad experience
- Let them know most people don’t have that experience in your space
- Address all of their complaints
- Don’t take it personally
9. Reply to Yelp Messages
People can send you messages through Yelp. Make sure these go to an email account you check regularly and respond quickly to the messages. “The faster you reply, the more likely they’re still looking for office or coworking space,” says Kearney.
10. Check Out Yelp Check-Ins
Yelp now offers an option to give people rewards for checking in at your business. You can offer a percentage off their next visit or credit them a dollar amount towards their next purchase. Workspace operators can offer new visitors who check-in through Yelp a free day of coworking, which is valid one time only.
The beauty of using Yelp check-in specials is that they pop up on the Yelp mobile app when someone is looking for a workspace. Yelp will present the app user your special to check-in at your space for a free day of coworking.
11. Experiment with Yelp Deals
Yelp Deals is a free service you can offer potential members. The idea is to give someone something of value for less than they’d normally pay. For instance, if you have a coworking membership that normally costs $250 per month, you can run a Yelp Deal for someone to get that same membership for $200 for one month. Yelp takes payment from the client, takes 30% and gives you the rest. You receive $140 whether or not the person ever shows up to your space. Think of it as a marketing expense.
If the Yelp user likes your workspace and community, they may continue their coworking membership once the initial month is over. As Kearney puts it, “It’s a great way to get people into the space.”
12. Test Yelp Deal Strategies
If you offer a Yelp Deal, don’t set it and forget it. Keep an eye on it to see how the Deal is performing. Track response rate and change the offer if response slows down.
“If we’re getting a constant flow of people, we’re going to keep that Deal up,” says Kearney. “But if it becomes stagnant and we haven’t had a response in a set time, then we mix it up. We either do smaller amounts or larger amounts and see if we get a better response.”
13. Beware of the Person Who Threatens a Bad Yelp Review
Some people will threaten to leave a bad review on Yelp if they don’t get what they want, or if you won’t give them a special deal. This can be frustrating. Handle these situations the same way you would handle an actual bad Yelp review: professionally, courteously and without unnecessary emotion.
You may find that someone who threatens a bad review never leaves it, and that the person who leaves you a bad review never gives you a chance to make things right in the moment. They just leave without talking to you about it then post their review. There’s nothing you can do about that other than to respond in the most professional way possible. Remember, if they see you as a genuine, caring individual trying to help them, they are much more likely to return the positivity.
Yelp can be an effective way to promote your shared workspace, drive membership and differentiate your space. Follow the above tips and you’ll be on your way to a successful Yelp strategy.