Update as of 10/2019: After finding out information about Yelp’s unethical business practices, I can no longer recommend them and discourage anyone from being associated with them in any way. Read my reasoning for this change of heart here.
Are you wondering about this Yelp Elite program you keep hearing about? Does it mean you get to be a snobby foodie? I find that a lot of people are familiar with Yelp as an app or website where they can search for places to eat, but most people don’t seem to write reviews. All you do is take, take, take! Just kidding, I used to do that as well until I decided I was ready to contribute. I first started reviewing businesses on Yelp at the end of 2011 and earned my first Elite status a few years later in 2014. Thanks to this experience, my friends will tell you that I now have an annoying rule about only visiting restaurants that have at least a 4-star rating on Yelp. I’ve made a few exceptions to this rule and usually ended up regretting it. Read on to learn some things you may not know about Yelp and details on how to become part of the Elite Squad!
5 Things You Might Not Know About Yelp
- You can review any type of business on Yelp, not just restaurants. I’ve reviewed my dentist, eye doctor, gym, and workplace, just to name a few.
- When you use the “check-in” feature on Yelp, some restaurants will offer you a discount, free appetizer, or other deals. If I’m torn between 2 places, I’ll usually choose the one with the free perk!
- There are several options to connect with other Yelpers on the app. You can send fun compliments in response to their reviews, mark their review as funny/useful/cool, and you can also participate in the Talk section (discussion board where you can ask questions and bring up whatever is on your mind).
- You can bookmark places to save for later. I have a long list of places bookmarked to visit in various cities and even some in other countries. Yelp is a great tool to have handy on your travels!
- You can create collections, such as the top restaurants to visit in your city or pet-friendly businesses near you. Once created, you can share these collections with others so they can follow your suggestions.
If you’re just getting started with Yelp or reviews in general, you may be wondering what it takes to write a good Yelp review that will help others and/or help the business improve. I’m not an expert, but I do enjoy writing reviews, so my suggestions are below.
8 Tips For Writing A Good Yelp Review
- Take a variety of pictures of the business. If it’s a restaurant, pictures of the food and the menu will be helpful to include. One of the first things I look at on Yelp is the photos!
- For restaurants, share about the taste and temperature of the food and try to be more descriptive than just saying “everything was delicious”.
- Talk about the decor of the business. Was it inviting? Did the tables have a lot of space or did they feel crowded? Is it good for groups?
- How was the speed of service and quality of service? Was the staff attentive and friendly?
- What was the price range? Was it reasonable?
- Was the business handicap-accessible?
- Do they have seating areas that are pet-friendly?
- Did the menu include items for special dietary needs – gluten-free, vegan, etc?
These are just some ideas on the basics. Keep in mind that it is always fun if you can showcase your unique personality and sense of humor in your review!
Maybe you’ve been reviewing for a little while and you’re ready to apply for the Elite squad. There are 2 options to apply – you can either nominate yourself, or a friend can nominate you. Be sure you meet the below qualifications, per the Yelp website. If you are making regular contributions with detailed reviews and helpful photos, you should have a good chance of receiving an Elite badge!
To become Elite, you agree that you
- Are using your real name on Yelp.
- Have a clear photo of yourself as your primary photo.
- Are of legal drinking age in your country.
You also agree that you are NOT
- A business owner, closely affiliated with a business owner (spouses, GMs, social media/marketing managers, etc.) or working for one of our competitors. Any of these occurrences would represent a conflict of interest.
- Managing a Yelp Business Account and will not in the future. If you currently do, please include this information in your nomination note.
If you meet these requirements and have stellar content to show for it, fill out the nomination form for the Yelp Elite Squad Council’s consideration. I received the highly coveted Elite badge for the 6th time in January of this year, so I’m thankful to be keeping my streak going! When I nominate myself, I try to include details on the specific contributions I have made over the past year and what I add to the community as a whole.
Benefits Of Being A Yelp Elite
- You will have priority access to events set up by your Community Ambassador. Some events will be limited to Elites only, and some will be open to all Yelpers. If you’ve never been to a Yelp event before, you are in for a TREAT! Here is a full list of past events in the Triad of North Carolina (my area). Each region has different types of events, but after attending events in both South Carolina and North Carolina, I can confidently say they are all awesome.
- Some non-food related events I have attended include a Pure Barre class, Orangetheory class, an Escape Room, a day at the arcade, a local cinema feature, and a Benefit Brow Bar.
- Food-Related events I’ve been to have included a taco and margarita event and a Soiree at Bonefish Grill. Before that, we enjoyed attending a cooking class, a brewery tour, and a fermentation class.
- It is a privilege to get a behind the scenes look at local businesses as they usually take time to share about their roots and their mission during the event. After the event is over, you’re able to write a review of the event to give feedback to the business.
- At each event, you’ll get to snag some Yelp branded swag. Bags, gum, bouncy balls, lunch bags, chapstick, selfie lights, and the list goes on. It’s always fun, so don’t be shy about taking some home. Sometimes you’ll even get to play Yelp Bingo to get to know your fellow Yelpers!
Undoubtedly all the free food and drinks are a huge perk, but one of my favorite things about being part of the Elite Squad is having the unique opportunity to share my opinions about small businesses in my area. It’s rewarding to be able to support those who may be just starting out or wanting to grow their business and get more exposure. I love being able to help other people find local gems by writing reviews and sharing photos and it’s amazing how many people end up viewing and appreciating what I write! Elite reviews typically show up first on the search results as there is a higher level of trust that you will provide quality feedback, so it’s nice to be able to make an impact in this way.
After reading this, you might be wondering how my Yelp foodie involvement can fit into the healthy lifestyle I often talk about on this blog. Good question. The answer is that it is still a work in progress. When I’m at a restaurant or Yelp event, I try to make the best choice possible based on the options available and whenever possible, I look at the menu ahead of time to plan out what I will order. I’ll be the first to admit that I don’t always eat strictly healthy things, but I do try to abide by the 80/20 rule as much as possible – 80% of my diet is made up of nutrient-dense, whole foods and 20% is made up of the more indulgent items you’d find at restaurants and the things you see pictured in this post.
I’d love to hear your thoughts and questions about Yelp. Will you be joining me for the Yelpie Awards in 2019?
Thanks for reading!
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