Eyrn Roberts | YELP Community Ambassador
Five Minutes with Eyrn Roberts, Yelp Community Ambassador:
“I love my job. I get to go to events and parties, and I always know what is going on in the Wilmington food scene. Sales is a lot harder when what you are selling is free – I’m pitching participation.“
The path to Yelp
I got into the restaurant industry working with Keith Rhodes; I worked at Catch for almost four years. I love Chef, he’s a really wonderful mentor, and inspiration as far as the front- and back-end. He’s not only a chef, he’s a business owner. After a while waiting tables for him, I moved up and was assistant manager, and helped book events and actually fulfill events, from large scale catering, weddings, food truck… I did all that. I really enjoyed it. Over time, I was ready to move out of the customer service aspect of it, and I wanted to work more with marketing and helping business owners.
I have a friend who works for Yelp in New York, and she messaged me that they were hiring locally, and I got the job. My bachelor’s is in communication studies, from UNCW. While I was in school, and waiting tables, I always knew I wanted to branch out to other things.
With Yelp, I plan events, which we do monthly, ranging from laser tag, to dinners out… you name it, we do it. It’s really fun, and it’s market-driven, so it’s what people want and what the community loves. I’ve found that Wilmington really likes beer. They’re not big fans of formal events, which is frustrating for me, but it’s kind of funny when you get to know the people who really write reviews, and really enjoy interacting both online and offline. We really do have a wonderful foodie scene in Wilmington. There are so many restaurants opening up on a regular basis, every day, there is like there is always something new.
It’s wonderful if you stay up-to-date on social media. Many people don’t realize it because we’re a small market, but Yelp is a huge brand. It’s one of the 20 most visited websites. When you Google your business, your Yelp listing is going to come second in Google, if not first.
When you type something in your phone to look up a business, the Yelp listing is going to come up. The pictures people post on Yelp are going to come up, whether that is pictures you posted as a business owner, or what a patron came in and posted.
I think businesses really do miss taking advantage of all the free business listing tools that Yelp offers. It’s really easy to add pictures, make sure your business listing is up-to-date, that it links to your website, that the phone number and hours are correct. Some people leave a really bad review just because they show up at your business and your hours online say 3:00 because they Googled it, but you’re really not open if they get there at that time. Making sure that the information is available and accurate is a really big thing – but it’s a simple thing – that business owners can do.
Food trucks, for example, you don’t have to have a brick-and-mortar on Yelp and you can update your location simply on the mobile app. That syncs with Google, and a patron will Google your food truck and it will show up everywhere online that your location has changed. People will know exactly where you are.
Yelp also shares events and reviews in a monthly newsletter, which is really fun. And, we’ve got really active social media channels. There are lots of ways that we connect people with businesses in the area.
A really fun thing that most people, including business owners, do not use is signature stamps on emails. Check out my emails – I have a link to my Yelp, Twitter, Instagram… to my Facebook. So any communication that I send, you’re going to get a direct button link to all my social media accounts. You get a lot more traffic that way and to encourage people to visit your social sites, without shoving it in their face. Nobody likes being told what to do when it comes to marketing, but a subtle thing… that works.
Restaurant marketing: getting it right
I’m always really pleased when business owners value the reviews they get. Whatever platform they are on, they realize that the customer really likes their product. Or doesn’t. There are a lot of people in our community that are very eco-conscious, for example. I’ll see reviews where people will write, “I love this business, but I wish its to-go containers were recycle-friendly.” And recently one business owner commented on a review like that and said, “Thanks for the comment, we’ve updated our containers.” That is being responsive and being a responsible business owner by taking your customers’ comments into consideration. Customers really do have good opinions. Sometimes you have to take it with a grain of salt; you can’t please everybody.
I do stay very, very connected. I try to find times to turn it off too. I appreciate business owners who create boundaries, like with political positions, but I also appreciate business owners who take a firm stance against discrimination because regardless of your political beliefs, I think that is really important, to makes sure that everyone feels safe and welcome to come to your business. Wilmington is a welcoming community.
Playing it local & positive
I make it really clear that I am local… I’m not working on an 800- number from somewhere else. I am here in Wilmington. With Yelp, there is no financial transaction, and because I am here, I have lots of different advertising arrangements available through Yelp, so that I can participate and make connections: I might get tickets for an event, or things like that. There is value to what we are putting out, but there is no direct charge for it.
I grew up here. When I was growing up, my Auntie Diane used to write restaurant reviews for the Star News. We would go with her, because she would go out for supper often. I remember a huge fight that Mom and Diane got into, over a particular restaurant. [laughing] Diane reviewed it. My mom loved that place, and Diane didn’t like it. It was a fried seafood restaurant, and Diane like another place better. It was funny – they both got so bent out of shape over a review. People in Wilmington have always taken their food very seriously!
Generally, I try to be a very positive person when reviewing. If I don’t have something nice to say… actually, if it’s super negative, I just don’t say it. I don’t put it on the internet. I never have intentions of trashing a business. If there’s something I didn’t like, I’ll try to figure out how to say it and put a positive spin on it.
That’s what I think Yelpers in this community do really well. The “Yelp Elite,” are selected based upon how many reviews they have written, the length of their reviews, and the quality of their reviews, which establishes their “trust-worthiness” as reviewers. The reviews are constantly being moderated, and the ranking of the reviewers changes based upon that metric, with generally positive reviews given more weight. There are checks and balances in the system; no one can get into Yelp and write one angry review and get it to show up on the first page. It protects the businesses from false-negatives, and it maintains the quality of the feedback. I was a Yelper a little bit before I became the ambassador. I wrote a few reviews, but I really used the site as a reference. I would search through it even though I wasn’t the most active contributor. Locally we probably have over 100 contributors in the last 30 days, who have left 5-6 reviews, so they are writing on a regular basis, and adding pictures, or tips, or adding events.
Personal food weakness
I’m a real big sweet person. The donut craze in Wilmington is… I just can’t keep up with it! I think we’ve had three donut shops open up in the last four months.
Find Eryn, Wilmington’s Yelp Ambassador
Connect with her on LinkedIn