Last Friday we were fortunate to host a webinar on Yelp — a very cool website that combines local reviews and social networking functionality to create an online community where users can share ratings and information about everything from restaurants, clubs, merchants, and (yes, you guessed it!) apartment communities. The webinar was presented by Geoff Donaker, COO of Yelp, along with Luther Lowe, Manager of Local Business Outreach. The two covered topics ranging from the basics of Yelp and how to create an account, to the filtering software that ensures Yelp reviews remain balanced and fair. There's obviously a great deal of interest in the topic of ratings, as there were over 900 registrants and over 500 live phone lines joining the webinar.
Apartment Finder advertisers have the option of streaming Yelp reviews of their community directly into their property page on www.apartmentfinder.com -- something many consumers are looking for as they search available online information to reach a buying decision. Unlike some other ratings sites, Yelp invests a great deal of resource into making sure ratings aren't either pumped up unrealistically (by friends, family or employees, for example) or unfairly pulled down (by competitors, disgruntled former employees or chronic complainers). Pretty well thought out, and a big reason Yelp now has 26 million users a month searching their site.
Here are some helpful links if you are considering Yelp as a tool to help manage your community's online reputation: