July 21, 2011

Location-Based Service @Yelp

A location-based service (LBS) is an information or entertainment service, accessible from mobile devices through the cellular network and utilizes the geographical position of the mobile device.

This post will be the first in a series of high level reviews of LBS's.

Why am I writing about this? 

Mobile technology, aka social (more on that in a future post), is becoming the primary area of consumption, with heavy interaction and large numbers of published social content. 60% of all mobile internet usage is spent on social networks (Ground Truth) and I predict that it’s only going to continue moving closer to the 100% mark.

Given that the consumer and mobile are attached at the hip — the heart of social is LBS. And the data backs that: Nearly 1 in 5 smartphone owners access check-in services (a subset of LBS) via their mobile device (ComScore Mobilelens).

From a financial perspective location-based revenue in the United States is expected to climb from $2.8 billion in 2010 to $10.3 billion in 2015.

With the stage set - let's begin:

Yelp (founded in 2004)

Yelp iPhone App - Home Screen
Yelp's goal is simple: To connect people with great local businesses like dentists, hair stylists and mechanics - and it does so by allowing people to write reviews.

To date 'Yelpers' have written over 20 million local reviews, 83% of them rating a business 3 stars or higher.

Primary features of the app include:
  • Search for businesses near you
  • Tap quick links to find nearby bars, restaurants, cafes and more
  • Narrow searches by 'hood, distance, price, and what's open now
  • Browse reviews to read what's great (and not so great) in your city
  • Add quick tips, photos, and draft reviews for your favorite businesses
  • Check-in and share on Facebook and Twitter
  • Make reservations on OpenTable without leaving the Yelp app
  • Look up addresses and phone numbers for thousands of businesses, then call or map them from your phone

Yelp Deals
Mobile users cannot upload reviews (the founder, @Jeremys wants them to be well thought out), but it is possible to leave tips at locations.

In June 2011 Yelp updated its iPhone and Android apps to include daily deals. Clicking on the 'deals icon' you can see a list of nearby Yelp Deals for discounts at restaurants, spas, and other businesses.
(These are in addition to Yelp Special Offers and Check-In Offers).

What's in it for social marketers and businesses:

  • Business pages (important for search within Yelp and general SEO)
  • Interaction with consumers by responding to reviews
  • Check-in offers and Yelp Deals
  • Yelp website and window badges

To conclude: check out this awesome Yelp HQ's tour - courtesy of @techcrunch.

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