Yelp ambassador works market here
Spokane-based rep links businesses, customersFebruary 26th, 2015
Alyssa Agee, the Spokane community ambassador for San Francisco-based business reviewing and community building website Yelp, says she helps businesses and customers here connect by bringing the two together both online and offline.
“It’s really fun to meet people from all over the Spokane region … and have an opportunity to celebrate the businesses in town,” she says.
Agee, who says she’s lived in Spokane for four years and started as the Yelp community ambassador here in 2013, doesn’t have an office space, but works from home and meets with local businesses and their locations.
“I roam,” she says.
Agee, whose position with Yelp is part time, meets with businesses to teach them how to find their business’ page on Yelp and make it better, she says.
“My primary job is to help educate local businesses on how to utilize the back-end tools on their Yelp business accounts,” she says. “Any local business can get on to Yelp and sign up for a free business page … but they’re usually already listed.”
Once a business finds its page or signs up for one, Agee can show them how to respond to reviews, upload photos, and update information.
“It’s a great way to make sure they’re business hours are always accurate, or if they’re a food-type business, to keep their menu uploaded and current,” she says.
Part of Agee’s job also is to raise awareness in the community about Yelp, she says.
“I get them offline and help them connect in person, which then builds some community online,” she says.
Agee hosts monthly and quarterly events at local businesses to build the Yelp community and introduce people to new businesses, she says.
“The events are at any business that wants to host me, and we work out a cool event that hopefully will bring new customers to them,” she says. “Every event is unique.”
For example, in January, Agee hosted an event at Cole’s Fine Foods, at 521 E. Holland on the North Side.
“We did an art unveiling there, so (the owner) had some local artists come and put up some art in her shop,” Agee says. “Then we had the artists come out for a reception, and we had live music, and Cole’s Fine Foods provided samples.”
Agee says about 40 or 50 people showed up for the January event.
“It’s open to the community; you don’t have to be on Yelp,” she says. The events typically offer a raffle or prizes for attendees who “check in” at the event on the Yelp website, Agee says.
Agee hosted this month’s event on Feb. 25 at South Hill ice cream shop The Scoop, at 1001 W. 25th, she says. The monthly events usually run about two hours, she says.
“Our quarterly events are much larger and they’re RSVP only,” Agee says. “You have to have an account on Yelp and RSVP on Yelp to go to those.”
The next quarterly event will be on March 8, Agee says, and will be held at the Northwest Museum of Arts and Culture, at 2316 W. First in Browne’s Addition. The museum is hosting a panel discussion and live music on the same date, she says.
“We are going to be there in addition with our own food and vendors,” she says. “Yelpers also will be able to enjoy the panel discussion and music and galleries.”
Agee says she doesn’t sell advertising for Yelp.
“It’s like church and state,” she says. “I am specifically here to be a resource to local Yelpers and businesses and grow the community.”
Businesses can purchase ads on the Yelp site if they want to do so, Agee says.
“I can pass them along if they’re interested in doing that,” she says. “But I can’t help people with issues with their sales accounts and I can’t sell anything.”
Agee also curates a weekly newsletter, which goes out to everyone who signs up for a Yelp account in the Spokane area, she says.
“It features five local businesses and three events happening around town,” she says.
The newsletter also highlights a sponsor, usually a big event, Agee says.
“The Spokane International Film Festival took that spot one week, and the Wine & Cork Festival had it once,” she says. “And it’s a marketing-in-trade relationship with whoever the sponsors are, since I don’t sell anything.”
Yelp has full-time community managers in almost every major city, Agee says. Her part-time position is part of a pilot program to bring community management services to slightly smaller cities, she says.
“It makes sense that the next step for (Yelp) is to reach out to that next level of cities,” such as Spokane, she says.
Agee says her main focus here for 2015 is to grow the local reviewer base.
“Right now, there’s a significant number of tourist reviews, and while we really appreciate those, I would like to see locals who frequent these businesses all the time have the last word on how those businesses are,” she says. “It would be really awesome for the community to be sharing that with each other … it helps ensure that small businesses stay here, and thrive.”