Stephanie Ichinose, Director Of Communications for Yelp

Stephanie Ichinose, Director Of Communications for Yelp

In this podcast Lon Safko speaks with Stephanie Ichinose, Yelp’s Director of Communications about how Yelp helps!  Stephanie explains how “Yelpers” are rating restaurants, auto mechanics, dentists or any company right in your home town.In this 34 minute interview Stephanie describes how Yelp has received more than 3.5 million reviews of services all over the United states, and how Yelp.com has more than 14 million unique visitors every 30 days.  Stephanie further describes how the mobile phone has changed the way people access Yelp information.  Imagine you’re out to dinner, wanting a good pasta restaurant; turn on your mobile phone, type in pasta, and Yelp returns all of the rated pasta restaurants that’s closest your GPS cell phone and shows their five star ratings!

These interviews and other content have been released in anew book “The Sparks That Ignited The World” available on Amazon (http://amzn.to/2jPo0DQ).  For a CD containing all 50 audio interviews totaling more than 24 hours of historic conversations, go to www.ExtremeDigitalMarketing.com.

“The Sparks That Ignited The World” Series

This blog is part of the series “Sparks”, which contains transcripts and links to the audio podcasts from the more than 50 historic interviews I did with the founders, pioneers, inventors, authors, and visionaries who who set the world on fire by creating something that change the lives of everyone on the planet.  We now call innovation “Social Media”.  They were the “The Sparks That Ignited The World”.

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An Interview with Stephanie Ichinose, Director Of Communications for Yelp

Hello, my name is Lon Safko, co-author of The Social Media Bible, published by John Wiley & Sons, the most comprehensive book ever written on the subject of Social Media.

Today we are here with Stephanie Ichinose who is the Director of Communications for Yelp, and today we are going to be talking about Yelp and Social Networks, and all things Social Media.

So Stephanie, it’s awesome to have you here today. SI: Thank you and thank you for your interest in Yelp.

LS: Yeah, this is going to be great! Can you tell the listeners a little bit about who you are, what your background is, and what you do at Yelp?

SI: Sure, so I am the Director of Communications here in which I manage a bunch of different functions. Primarily it is media relations, analysis relations, and the like. I work closely with our Management Team and I have been with the company since April 2006. Prior to that, I was managing a public relations team for Yahoo that specifically sat right in the local space.

LS: Oh, okay, okay. So you were actually with Yahoo for a while. SI: Yes, for five years.
LS: Oh, that is a while.
SI: (Laughter)

LS: That’s pretty cool.

SI: It is a great company, and I think with the awesome team we had there what started to happen was me, personally, looking at the competitive landscape. I noticed (this is back in 2006; late 2005-2006) that user- generated content was gaining traction in a way that it had not before; and so when I came across Yelp and was looking at them, it just seemed like a really interesting opportunity.

LS: And I think the site is absolutely fascinating. Really, when you talk about Social Media, the first thing that you are talking about is user-generated content, and that is what Yelp is all about.

Can you tell us, the listeners, a little bit about what Yelp is?

SI: Sure, so the interesting thing about Yelp and its approach to local search was that we recognized that there was this old model of “word-of-mouth” that existed. It is not even a model; it has just existed since the beginning of time, basically. Individuals would share a lot of interesting and valuable information between each other with these person-to-person conversations. And so it was like, “Where can I find a great doctor?

Who’s the best mechanic in town for my small, little car that needs some work on it?” And the question at that point is how do we capture these conversations and bring them online?

Initially, we set out to solve that problem and were surprised to find that by building a community of individuals within a city (within a particular city) we were able to, then, really incite and encourage these conversations. On the back-end, users were really passionate about sharing that information. And so, as you know, Yelp started out specifically only in San Francisco. And we focused our first year of operations dedicated to building up the site, supporting the community that existed in the Bay area, and tried to figure out what worked/ what didn’t; that sort of thing.

And then in 2006-2007 it was really a focus more on, “Okay, can we replicate this and push it out to other markets, with the same sort of conversation-topics, in Chicago, in New York, in Boston?”

And we found, pretty quickly in 2006 that, in fact they do. We found that there was just something universal about people wanting to share all of their great hidden gems, or wanting to rave about specific businesses, the “Mom and Pop’s” that they want to support. And so there was a really interesting dynamic of community (and local community), that really resonated across the nation.

LS: So what we are really talking about is that you built this trusted network of people that go in and they rate restaurants, they review restaurants, they review mechanics, they review different kinds of service. And, I’ll be honest, anytime that I’m going to hire somebody, even if it’s a drycleaner, rather than just walking in off the street, the first thing that I will do is go to my trusted network and find out who likes this restaurant, or who likes this dry cleaner.

So that is what is driving it?

SI: Yes, I think it is interesting that when we watch some of our most active Yelpers there is this notion that they are contributing right to the bloggers,( or this community in San Francisco, or in their particular area, whether it’s Dallas, Austin or Chicago, or wherever they may live); there’s this notion of being able to support local businesses, help share that information so that others who are out there that might stumble across the information would find it helpful; and just sort of become a part of the local community of individuals who are passionate about sharing their experiences.

There is a network part of it, which is where you sign up on Yelp, you plug into a community of people who are like minded (or what-not), But then the broader affect is that information is then seen by so many more individuals. Currently we have had 14 million unique visitors to the site in the past 30 days. And that number continues to grow and we are really excited about that. We currently have well north of 3.5 million reviews that have been written by Yelpers that contributed to the site.

Therefore, what that tells us is that there is a huge audience of people that are looking for this information and whereas they are able to utilize this resource, it is great. In addition, we are then able to tap into the individual voices of the community, which is even better.

LS: Those are really incredible numbers. So do I understand correctly that you took a Craig’s List-model where they just launched it in San Francisco, and when they had a proven successful model then began launching it city after city of the major metropolitan areas throughout the U.S?

SI: That’s correct. Actually, the co-Founders really looked at the Craig’s List- model and figured out, “Okay, what did they do? What was part of their roll-out, and how did they achieve this success that they’ve achieved?” Therefore, there are some pages in this playbook; for instance, focusing and looking at individual markets and going deep, which is primarily what we did in 2005.

LS: And obviously successfully. I am going to say those numbers again. Fourteen million Yelpers! Which by the way, I think is awesome!

SI: (Laughter) you mean 14 million unique visitors to the site.
LS: You mean “visitors.” That’s incredible. I love the term “Yelpers”; I think that’s just cute. Are we are looking at 3.5 million reviews?

SI: That’s correct. And roughly two million of those have been posted to the site within the last 12 months, so within the last year.

LS: Wow.

SI: So I think what has been interesting to watch is the….part of that is fueled, obviously, by our growth in continuing markets. We currently have 21 actively managed communities across the U.S., and those are, as you would imagine, in the major cities across the United States. But it has been fascinating to watch how each city, sort of, ignites and how the communities are all very different and they all have their different cultural tones, and whatnot. But underneath it, all there is the same common thread; as in, ‘Wow, I am able to finally jump on my soapbox here and share all of my favorites.” It is a little bit ego-driven, perhaps, but then the second part of that being about contributing back to the community, in a meaningful way that is also heard by the others.

LS: And that is one of the themes that I also heard when interviewing the Founder of WikiHow. We were talking about Wiki’s and I was absolutely amazed at where he has, literally 20, 30, 40, 50,000 people that are willing to come in and actually donate their time, verify information, verify links; really because what they just want to do is contribute to this knowledge-base, this information. They really want to be part of the community.

SI: Yeah, I think what has been interesting to watch is that folks have made an analogy to Yelp as, “Oh, you are a Social Network?” And the way that we look at it is actually that we see ourselves more as a local community site, if you will. And that’s because when you log into a Social Network you’re affectively creating your account and inviting your Social Network to participate and engage, and finding folks who may already exist on that particular platform.

Where as in Yelp, it’s really more about joining a community of like-minded individuals who (guess what!) happen to live within the parameters of your geography, your city and you all have a common interest. That is what Yelp is all about; that is local businesses and services. And so, we are defining with what that community discussion is, and you plug into that and meet with others. And so there have been question like, “Do Yelpers meet offline” and that sort of thing. And they absolutely do.

It’s probably because we all live within the same city; and while very close together people establish affinities, or interests. In particular are types of businesses. As in, say, Italian food or people who enjoy wines and a particular type of wine. And so often, what we are finding is that Yelpers will organize groups and then meet offline and get together. So there is a really interesting social element there. All of these things speak very strongly to the notion of communities and we are detailed to support that.

LS: I really like the fact that you bring out that this is not as much a Social Networking as a community-based one. That was the feeling that I got when I first had gone into Yelp. I thought it was awesome. I could type in Phoenix and I thought, “Wow, I didn’t even know that restaurant existed!” and “Look at all the Five Stars.” But then I could actually get it down to my individual community, Gilbert, which is 23 miles to the east. Then as I was thinking about it with my SEO/SEM background, geo-tagging really is kind of an afterthought of something we just add onto webpages in the past, just to try to get that local flavor. But really, when I got into Gilbert, which is my own little community, it really was all about Gilbert. It was no longer about my LinkedIn, or a professional network. This is what is happening in my hometown.

SI: Right, yes. And that’s what’s illuminating. We’ve heard time and again that Yelpers are people who visit the site, perhaps more casually, just to find information. They may have lived in a particular city for all their life, right. Still they’re finding new businesses that they never knew existed. In addition, Yelp (and the reviews they are finding on Yelp), are inspiring them to go out and try something that is outside of their comfort zone and perhaps go a little bit further than they would have driven for say, a pasta dinner. But they are exploring and they are discovering new businesses because they have a bit of a preview into that. The Yelp community is really saying, “Wow, this place is absolutely worth the 30-minute drive to (the next town over). You should check it out, it would be worth your while.”

So we are finding that Yelpers write back in and say, “Wow, it’s been extremely powerful in helping me find great businesses, and spending my money and dollars with locally-owned operations is something I enjoy doing, and I now have the confidence to be able to extend myself beyond what I normally would, to the businesses I would normally support, and try new things.”

So that’s been an interesting phenomenon.

LS: Definitely the new things that are there, because every time my wife and I go out to dinner it’s, “Where do you want to go? I don’t know, where do you want to go? Not the same old place?” We’re driving around saying, “You want to go to that place in the shopping center? Well, I don’t know, I’m a little bit afraid of that. I don’t know if the food is going to be good.”

And we always end up back at the same restaurant after driving around for 45 minutes. But after I got into Yelp, I said, “Oh my gosh, here’s a five-star restaurant that Yelp rated and it’s only right down the street, and now I could save anywhere from a half-hour to 45 minutes drive-time; in circles.”

SI: Right and with the price of gas, where it is today, that’s a big deal.

LS: I could leave a bigger tip!

SI: Yes! Exactly. I mean, you hit on this notion that being able to identify what, in broad strokes, the Yelp community thinks about a business, is helpful. What I think you’ll find over time, though, is that being able to then dive down into the individual profiles of people who are talking about a business, will even further refine those pick/sees.

So Yelp is built entirely on this notion of community, and then individuals, as well, right? So my profile page has some general information about me, the light-hearted stuff (favorite movies, books, where I grew up…, my interests in general). And so from there you immediately get a quick snapshot of, “What kind of person is Stephanie?” And then you are able to look at all of my reviews, which serve in a way as life-style blogs, sort of. Like, as I go out to eat and that for the five or six restaurants that I may try this week, I’ll write reviews of those and you get a sense of that. Everybody has different preferences and tastes, and so if you are following my blog and you decided at some point, “Hey, you know I have a lot in common with this type of person, and she’s rating and reviewing things similar in nature to what I would.” I would want to select what should be one of my favorites, and I could almost follow that individual over time.

So now, it’s you building a small set of preferences on Yelp. And that way when you are doing searches, when you’re logged in anyhow, you’ll be able to refine enough to tell that these same voices are pointing you to the direction of the business that they’ve tried.

We believe that’s important because understanding what a profile or a person is all about, really helps instill an additional layer of trust and value, quite frankly, in the information they are providing.

LS: That’s a really interesting point. I didn’t even think about it, I was just looking at the restaurants and I was reading the different reviews. But you are right, that if I find somebody who reviews a particular restaurant and they have basically the same style, same taste, same likes/dislikes and we have something in common, I’ll want to go back in and see other restaurants that they review. And that is because I can jump right into similar restaurants that I know I am going to have the same success with.

SI: Right!

LS: I never thought of that!

SI: Yeah, I mean it’s been interesting too…as for myself, for when I use the site in two different manners just for the purposes of keeping in touch with [15:37.3], but I will use my “logged-in” profile when I am doing searches personally. Like when I want to find something like a great seamstress, or whatever; and I have all of my favorites set so that I know when I am searching for businesses, folks that I have been following for a while…their reviews will pop up if these are business that they have rated and reviewed.

So it definitely helps out quite a bit.

LS: So we keep using restaurants as an example, but really, Yelp is about every type of service or product or company.

SI: That’s correct. Now I would argue that probably in Gilbert where we are just seeing communities start to build out, it’s probably in its early stages. This means that you probably have quite a few restaurants as the reviewed- businesses currently covered on Yelp.

What happens over time is that the other categories, such as retail, spas and beauty, health and medical, local services like plumbers and …

LS…auto mechanics…
SI:… yes, exactly…those will round out; and again, that goes back to this notion that Yelp does really serve, in

a way, as a lifestyle blog. So I don’t know how many times you’ve gone out to eat this week. LS: Well, we usually go at least once or twice.
SI: At least once or twice. Then you may go to a mechanic?
LS: Yes, maybe once a month, or even not that often, hopefully.

SI: Right! Hopefully, right, if things are running smoothly. So it follows the same patterns, right. Like we are writing about the things we experience on a regular basis, and then all of a sudden, “I have to go to the dentist to get my tooth pulled.” Or, “My water heater broke and I need to get a plumber,” or somebody in here to fix that quickly.”

Those occurrences happen less frequently, so over time what you will find is that the Yelp reviews will reflect all those other services and businesses that people are utilizing; but they do not happen immediately.

LS: That’s pretty cool. I never though about it, but you are absolutely right about when people, the database, is going to populate at about the same rate as individuals who use those different services.

SI: Right. And the interesting thing is that even when we take a look at Yelp overall, we look at all of the reviews and we look at our category breakdowns. What we are finding is that less than 34% of businesses reviewed on Yelp are restaurants. And 34% is a number that is a lot smaller than, I think, a lot of people guessed.

LS: Yes.
SI: It is followed by the shopping category, which comprised about 23% of the reviewed businesses. Then

there is beauty and fitness, which drops off at around 8%, entertainment at 7% and local services at around 7%.

So the distribution of this type of review is really various and spans a lot of different categories. Where most people think we just judge restaurants, we actually have a lot more to offer.

LS: Yes, those are really good statistics. I would have thought that…the first thing I thought of with Yelp is restaurants. I would have though it would have been well over 50%, maybe even 60-70% of the reviews.

SI: Right, right.
LS: So that does really make it more useful!

SI: It has been fascinating. I think that restaurant reviews are the low-hanging group for us because we are consuming them on a regular basis.

LS: Yeah, a couple of times a week.

SI: So we find that Yelpers are truly passionate about showing everything that they consume locally, and so therein follows all of the other local services, spas, salons, manicures and pedicures….that sort of thing. Those are the other categories that round-out nicely.

LS: Wow, wow.
SI: And that’s our goal, really! It is all about connecting people with great local businesses.

LS: That’s an admirable goal! I mean really, to build a local community and have these people in those communities actually help build them is awesome!

SI: Yeah, and I think what has been interesting is what has been shown. Communities, obviously, are key for us and we do the best that we can to support the local communities. I don’t know that there is a lot that goes into the building of those, necessarily. It is more supporting of the folks who are interested in sharing information.

LS: That’s a really good point. In my career, I have built about 10 different companies, and most of them have been either national or international. Basically, it was easy as far as the marketing, because you just throw it out to the world; where if you asked me to build a company like Yelp, I would think that there would be some unique challenges; as how do I get into every little tiny bedroom community across America? But obviously, you’re doing it.

Have most of your marketing and advertising successes been viral, word-of-mouth? SI: Yes, that’s correct.
LS: That says a lot about your product!

SI: That also goes back to the types of folks who are Yelping, right. So you would imagine within your circle of friends, you probably maybe the person, Lon, but there’s probably one or two individuals out of, say, 15 to 20 that are the “go-to” person and say, “Hey, what do we do Friday night?” Or, “Where do we go to eat?”

LS: The maven!

SI: They are always dialed into what’s happening in the city, where the new openings are, the buzz-worthy establishments are to check out; and those are a lot of the same folks, the very social creatures, who are the ones who are doing a lot of the Yelping. They are really dialed into the social scene, so they are not necessarily glued behind their computer writing reviews (kind of in some dark corner). In fact, they’re getting out, they are experiencing all the new and “hot” sort of places, and even the “off-the beaten-path” sort of establishments as well. Then they come back and they write about it and they share their experience.

And so it’s been fascinating to see how those who sent those insights in, turn around and share with their friends and say, “Oh, check out my Yelp reviews.” So it has been this very viral element of marketing that revolves around Yelp; a lot of it also contributes to the fact that many of the Yelpers are also very vocal and very outgoing pacemakers themselves.

LS: And I like that, that’s absolutely true that they are the influencers, or what they call the “mavens.” If I’m going to see a movie, I know who I’m going to call. If I want a restaurant recommendation, I know who I am going to call. If I need an auto mechanic, I have someone else for that. And they are influencers because they understand the latest information and they save you a lot of trouble by you going to the right source.

SI: Right, absolutely. Those are the folks, you know, that offline we would turn to, right. I know I would say, “Hey, where’s the best place for a movie and a dinner, and it needs to be quick,” or whatever it is, whatever your requirements are. And they know and they know exactly what direction to point you in. So it has been interesting to watch how that has played out online, as well.

LS: Wow. When we spoke in the past, one of the things that came up (which really seems to be a trend in all the Social Media conversations that I am having, whether it’s Comment Marketing or advertising or Social Networking) is the influence that cell phone technology is having on Social Media. In particular on Yelp. Can you speak just a little bit to that?

SI: Sure, so in 2006, like mid-2006, we launched our Yelp mobile site. That’s www.mobile.yelp.com, and there were a handful of folks who started to access this site through their mobile device.

Fast forward to a year later with the launch of the iPhone; we started to see an interesting trend. That was that a lot of direct traffic was starting to come increasingly more to our site, specifically from the iPhone device. Then they announced their SBK and we immediately jumped on that and said, “Wow, the Holy Grail of local, really, is in that mobile environment.”

Like if I am walking down the street and I am in a neighborhood that I am not familiar with, and I need to know where the ATM is, and I need to know where a great Chinese restaurant is, if I am able to look that up on the go in a very easy and quick manner and find the best restaurant, that’s golden!

So we developed Yelp for iPhone and launched that back in July with all the other 1,000’s of also-launcher’s; it’s free. And since then we have continued to see the usage of the application rise.

What is interesting to note, though, is that the highest traffic that we’ve seen coming in from those particular devices is during the weekend; which is “Surprise, surprise!” Right? People are out and about and looking for information about where to go. So it’s been a really interesting phenomenon.

iPhone is just one example and as more smart-phones come about and as the interface becomes easier for consumers to use, it will continue to drive the amount of interest around applications, or the accessing of content (local content specifically) that’s valuable and meaningful and easily accessible.

LS: Well, making it mobile, I think, you are absolutely right. What a great application of Yelp. Getting back to my wife and my typical “going out to dinner-45-minutes-circling the-hood” scenario, I would love to be able to, in 20-minutes into this circle be able to pull up my iPhone, and just say, “Where’s a good restaurant?” And actually be able to read (actually my wife) the reviews. So she can tell us where we are going to go to dinner.

But how cool is that! Having it all at your fingertips at the moment that you need it, in the exact geographic location that you also need it.

SI: Yes, absolutely. And this whole notion of, you know, being able to identify and pinpoint where you are….whether it’s triangulation or GPS…the new technology that are available makes it that much easier and removes that additional step; having to enter your intersection or your address of where ever you may be. Sometimes we do not always know that, right?

You are driving down the highway and you are, “Aggh, I want to access this information and I’m not really exactly sure where I am.” The new location-aware devices are really making it that much easier for folks to say, “Okay, just show me all the coffee shops, with WiFi, in the area.”

LS: Wow.
SI: And, boom, you have it and it is like, “That’s only two blocks down the road, and I did not know it existed.”

This is making it your navigation of a particular city that much easier.

LS: That’s amazing to have that right at your fingertips.

SI: Yes, I have to say I am one of the geeks who ran out on day-1 and purchased, well not on day-1 but I picked up the 3-G; it has been really interesting in terms of how it’s changed my usage of local information, and just “information” in general but in particular to “local.” There are different…it has actually increased the quality of the information I am going after.

LS: Yeah, because it is so useful and it’s so incredibly handy and easy. And that gets back to another question. What is your business model? Are you using the “Freemium” type model? How do you cover the overhead?

SI: Right, so advertising is the very short and simple answer to that; and so the majority of our advertising is comprised of locally owned businesses that want to enhance their business page. We add on, tack on the “bells and whistles” to their business profile page and then they are also able to (if they are interested in it) have an impressions-based program across Yelp. This is somewhat like a Google search, with one search ad at the top, that they can purchase; and it falls within the category.

So if someone does a search for a sushi restaurant, they can get an impression at the top of the page. And this is very similar to all sorts of search ads. It is clearly marked as such, and what not. And the other portion of our advertising is with major brands; national brands like Toyota or MX, or folks like that who are interested in bringing a display campaign to the Yelp community in particular cities in which they are really able to target a specific demographic.

LS: So the great thing you are saying about this, again like so many Social Media tools, is that because it is supported by advertisement (which we’re all accustomed to) that all of the services that we’ve just talked about through the entire interview is free to the users.

SI: That’s correct, yes. And then the one thing, the one distinction between Yelp and other ad formats, is that we, especially for the local business owners, know that it’s important to make the distinction that the search ads that appear, or when they enhance their business-page (any sort of program that they participate in on the site) is always tied directly to their reputation.

So, let’s say you are a five-star business; you have 250 reviews…fantastic! All of that appears in that short little summary that you see on the business. Likewise, if you have three-stars and perhaps 25 reviews; again that’s tied directly to the impressions-based advertisement, or like your business-profile page. So we treat all businesses the same, but participating in the advertising program allows you to enhance your pages with extra “bell and whistles.” You can never really manipulate or modify you reputation on Yelp.

LS: And that good, too, because it’s giving the information on the entire website that it’s integrity and credibility.

SI: Right and that ensures that consumers are going trust the information that they are seeing.

LS: I like that. Is it expensive if I were a local business, to get involved in your advertising?

SI: Actually, no. The packages currently start (depending on what category) at $150 and go up from there, per month, for the basic enhanced listing product. Again, it depends on the category that you are in, but you know, when you look at comparables out there, whether it’s online or offline like newspaper ads, print ads, or the yellow pages, it’s not as if Yelp is out of the ballpark.

LS: No that’s quite reasonable, because I remember 10 or 15 years ago when Yellow Pages was, pretty much, the only place you could advertise for a geographically businesses, that it was expensive. That was $400, $600, $800!

SI: Yes.
LS: And not nearly as affective as this.

SI: Right, because this really is layering that notion of third-party testimonials, or third party voice and endorsement, if you will.

LS: I like that. And now, if I wanted to go in and wanted to participate and take a look at my city’s reviews, or if I wanted to review something, is that a difficult process? How do I go about doing that?

SI: It is actually really easy. One of the key things that we were looking to do when we created Yelp was to make sure that is was: A) Easy and B) quick and fun. So it’s the same sort of registration process you would go through with any site and as soon as you get the basics in you then are able to start creating your own profile page.

So at this area, you are putting in your first name, last initial, and some information about yourself like where you live currently, and all your fun and kitschy details about yourself that are just t build up character, if you will. Then to write a review you simply click “Write a Review” and it’s very much like a blog entry that you would post. Just jot in your review and hit “publish,” or hit “submit” and it pushes it straight to the site.

LS: That is really easy, and fun.
SI: And the interesting thing is that, because we are a community-based site, very similar to Wikipedia, we also

get a lot of folks who are saying, “This business closed.” Or, “This business is currently under construction, so they are closed for the next three months.” Or, “The address is wrong.” They make is have a host of information that is just real-time updates that you cannot get anywhere else, in any other forum.

And so being able to have all of that rich data is very, very helpful for an end-user.

LS: That’s absolutely true because anything else that’s being currently published, like a Yellow Pages…that’s been with a six-month lead time on it, so you’re really not going to get up-to–the-minute information. It also operates like a little bit of a Wiki. If there are any errors, people will jump in and try to help fix those.

SI: Exactly. People take a lot of pride in their cities and in their reviews and, as such, they want to make sure that the information is current, so even those who are just checking it will update those on their own. We are not asking people to do this, but they will just double check and send a note into feedback and say, “Your address is off by a digit” or whatever it may be. And photos, too. They upload photos of businesses, too.

LS: Oh, you can put photos on there, as well. SI: Yes.
LS: That’s also really useful.
SI: Yes.

LS: Wow.

SI: Storefronts, the interiors of business places, especially if you are looking for group timing and you are looking for info like, “What does it look like inside there?” It really helps you access the, “Okay, is this the right place for my occasion?” Or whatever it may be.

LS: I like that and being every phone is camera-ready anyway, that gives you the opportunity to walk in, sit down, order a meal, take a picture of the dish and upload to Yelp while you are eating it.

SI: Yeah, that would be the end-all for sure. We do not have that capability currently, but we are working on it. LS: That’s cool. That’s something to look forward to.

In summary, is there anything else that you would like to tell our listeners about Yelp and about what you are doing?

SI: Yeah, I think on the whole we are just really excited about this space and as we continue to see new communities pop up all across the nation, our goal is definitely going to be to focus on that and help support those communities as they grow.

And for us looking forward, obviously, mobile presents a really interesting challenge, as you’ve noted, for everybody in the mobile space, not just Yelp. And as to international, we’ll look to slowly roll out in the coming years across the national borders. And this is because we feel like, “Wow, there is a lot of value to be had there, as well.” In the meantime, we remain focused on going deep, doing well here in the U.S. and we are excited about the future.

LS: That’s cool. Where can people find Yelp? SI: Yelp.com.
LS: That’s pretty easy. (Laughter)
SI: Terrible/punchy! (Laughter)

LS: You do the stuff.
I would really like to thank Stephanie Ichinose, the Director of Communications for Yelp for being with us here

today to talk about Yelp and Social Media. Stephanie, thank you! SI: Thank you very much for having me, Lon.
LS: This was great!

This has been Lon Safko, the co-author of The Social Media Bible. Be sure to check out our other valuable Social Media tactics, tools, and strategies that can be found in The Social Media Bible book and its companion website, www.thesocialmediabible.com.

And for more information about me, Lon Safko, please go on over to my website at www.lonsafko.com. And again, thank you Stephanie, for being here today. This has been great.
SI: Thanks, it has been great!

Lon Safko

www.LonSafko.com

Bestselling Author & International Keynote Speaker

Tags: Lon Safko, Bestselling Author, International Keynote Speaker, Innovative thinking, innovation, creative thinking, The Social Media Bible, The Fusion Marketing Bible, founders, Matt Mullenweg, Gary V

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