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Building Community Intentionally: A Conversation With 3 Yelp Community Managers

Season 2: Episode 42


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It takes a village to raise a small business, as any entrepreneur will tell you. It sounds like a solo act, but the more advocates in a business’s corner, the more likely their success. This week Emily sits down with three of Yelp’s Community Managers to talk about their roles and what they can do to help make a small business successful—everything from making connections in the community, hosting events on site, to promoting the business on Yelp’s local social media pages.

On the Yelp Blog: Learn 4 storytelling tips to help your Black-owned businesses thrive.

EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Behind the Review features conversations with business owners and customers who wrote one of their Yelp reviews. In our discussions, we talk about lessons they’ve learned that can be used by other small businesses to improve their own review strategies …or their bottom line.

This week we’re doing things a little differently. Instead of talking to a business and a reviewer, we’ll hear from three of our community managers—Erica, B, and Anitra—who are based across the country and all feel strongly about promoting Black- and minority-owned businesses. As Black women, they feel it’s imperative for business owners who look like them to know they are on their side, working to increase their visibility and get more people in their businesses.

I started by asking them to introduce themselves, and the conversation flows from there.

ERICA: Erica Nicole Eubanks. I’m the Senior Community Manager in Atlanta, Georgia. I’ve been with Yelp for a little over three years now. I started in Gainesville, Florida as a Community Ambassador, loved Yelp and our job so much that I moved to Atlanta, Georgia to become the CM here.

B: Hey, my name is B. I am a Senior Community Manager for North Houston. I came from a background of psychology as well as I owned my own business myself. And I’ve been with Yelp for three years now.

EMILY: I did not know you owned your own business. That’s so cool. How did I not know that?

B: I don’t think a lot of people know that.

EMILY: Amazing. We might be coming back to that. Anitra, over to you.

ANITRA: I’m Anitra. I am the Community Manager in Oklahoma City, and this is surprisingly my first year with Yelp. I haven’t even made it to a full year yet. It’ll be a year for me in April. So I’m just riding this CM wave. I was an Elite for six years before coming into this role. I definitely know a lot about my market and my community for various reasons.

EMILY: And I think the cool thing about our conversation today is, this idea of all of us sitting down and talking came out of the idea of doing something for Black History Month and kind of talking about the different initiatives that you all have as Black CMs and the ways you try to help other CMs across the country elevate those Black-owned businesses in their market.

But something that we’ve been trying to do on Behind the Review for a long time is really highlight diversity all year. And that’s diversity in heritage and background of our owners. Also diversity of industry. And so I’m just excited that we’re doing this. And I think the context of you all being a part of the Black CM committee is amazing, but I know there’s going to be some undertones of this that are just relevant for minority owned businesses across the board.

And I’m just really grateful that you all wanted to have this dialogue. So to do a little context setting, Erica came to me and was helping me get all of these amazing Black-owned features on Behind the Review for February. And we thought we should do an interview with some of our Black employees on the community team.

And I think the real thing we wanted to highlight was the work that you all are doing in your individual markets to elevate and highlight and bring more awareness to some of these Black owned businesses. Can you just start Erica by talking a bit about why this initiative is so important to you and how you really have worked to not only do this in your market, but try to get other Community Managers to understand the importance of elevating these different businesses.

ERICA: I think first, the funniest thing is, that so many people don’t really know that we exist. Maybe they know the Elite squad, maybe they see the fun things that we do, but they don’t know that there’s a human behind all of these fun things that’s happening, these partnerships with these businesses.

And so that’s a big part of what we do, beyond highlighting local businesses in different fun ways, we want to build that at Yelp Elite squad. We want them to let them know who we are. And I think it’s so great when we get to connect with minority owned businesses, especially Black-owned businesses or Woman-owned businesses for many of us on this call.

And they get to visually see us and be like, wow, you’re one of us. It’s super important for me when I go into, speaking with businesses, I want them to see me. I’d like them to see that I am a Black woman, with dreadlocks as well, or locks, from Florida, here in Georgia and for them to see like, wow, you look like me and you’re really helping me do this.

And to continue to spread the word of what Yelp is here for, so many people, so many businesses maybe have had the wrong idea about Yelp in the past. I think that we’ve done a fantastic job about continuing to spread the word about what we do and for us to have the opportunity to share that with local businesses is so important.

And it’s even more important for me to share that with Black-owned businesses. Another opportunity for us to highlight them in any way is so great. And Yelp has so many different resources. From us, from Yelp for Restaurants, all of that good stuff, to Behind the Review podcast.

So I think that it’s just a great opportunity for us to spread the word about what we’re here to do and why our commitment is so strong to these businesses, especially these Black-owned businesses. So I hope that it just sheds more light on what we’re here to do and how we’re here to support them.

EMILY: Absolutely. And I, of course, dove right in, didn’t even have anyone explain what a community manager’s day to day job looks like or what that’s all about. B, I’m going to put you on the spot since I made Erica answer first. Can you tell everyone a little bit about what a community manager does, what your day to day looks like.

B: We have so many community managers across the country, but in some ways, you would almost never know. We are both out in the field and behind the scenes at the same time. But I like to think that community managers are an amazing bridge between our amazing local business owners and our Yelp community – of the most influential people within the Yelp community. The folks that go to their friends, the folks that go to their families and say, ‘hey, I know about what’s going on. And let me show you the best of the best in this area.’

So we do a lot of that and we do it in so many different ways – from online presence and social media to physically on the ground work with these business owners. As Erica mentioned, it is so important for them to see us and for us to have representation in these communities, as well as many other platforms, including cross collaboration with other departments. So while we’re so large as a group as collective Yelp, we also are really, really intimate and small at the same time, in our markets to be able to help promote a lot of these businesses.

EMILY: And you guys really are like the true grassroots marketers of Yelp. I mean, this is my 10th year at Yelp. And I remember when I started, marketing at Yelp really was Community. That was the marketing department, was Community.

And now we have a very traditional and large marketing department with email divisions and all these different elements, but y’all are the field marketers. I mean, you are the ones who know what to do to get the word out about a new place. To get people to come back to a place that maybe is finished with their opening jitters and getting all of their little kinks out of the system.

You guys are so good at helping people with small budgets, or maybe no budgets, get the word out. And sometimes that’s through the events that you host, but sometimes it’s just by knowing them and helping them figure out how to set up their free page or how to do a great social post. That’s going to really engage their audience.

Anitra, I’m going to make you go next. Talk to me a little bit about – when you find businesses, like when you’re going to look for who you want to highlight. How are you going about trying to determine, Hey, this guy is maybe someone that would be a great partner or this is someone that I want to do an experience with.

What are the things that you’re thinking of as you’re putting that plan together?

ANITRA: So for me personally, it is always about just knowing your community, right? I think we all do that very well. We do a lot of bopping around the city. We do a lot of wearing the mayor hat very well. And I think just that small piece allows us to know which direction we want to lean in when it comes to pursuing a certain business or collaborating with a certain business.

For me, it’s always that, right? I know my way around town. I’ve always been very passionate from the very beginning of this role to make sure that I was very focused on highlighting minority businesses because of how minority businesses are usually showcased in our area. So for me it’s just that okay, I know this really great business in this really great area that might not get a lot of traffic to it otherwise. Let me start there and let me just start with bringing my own squad to this business. And with that of course, if it’s a great thing, it was great food, it was a fun find. Then those people tell their friends and their social circle. So for me, it’s just that simple. Let me start with this business that I really love – with these group of folks.

And then those folks tell their folks. And now all the folks know about this great local business that they wouldn’t have known about otherwise.

EMILY: And something that I thought we’d probably dig into today is this idea of identity marketing for a Black-owned business to in a way market themselves as Black-owned. Something I hear a lot when I interview not only Black-owned, but minority-owned businesses is, I don’t want to be a good Black-owned business. I want to be a good business that happens to be Black-owned, right? And that positioning of things I think is very important because there is a ton of value in identity marketing – because there are people who are searching specifically for Black-owned or Women-owned. And so it’s good to be able to tap into that personal identity as a way to represent your business and your brand.

But also, that’s not your whole identity. In many ways, you just want to be great in your industry outright. Do you guys have any advice, just from the times you’ve helped different businesses navigate this and maybe how bringing their identity and their heritage into marketing can be a benefit?

B: I’ll jump in to start with that one. In addition to businesses experiencing this, we experience this as Community Managers as well. We are the advocates for Black History Month because we identify with the community.

We have experience within our own lives that we bring to the table, which is really important. But each and every one of us is also very concerned that we are not the Black authority in our spaces. And we like to carry that into the world as well. So when I talk to many of the Black businesses in my area, and for context, I’m in North Houston. Most of our Black-owned businesses are in Houston proper, and they thrive in Houston proper. So when I talk to them about different ways that we can promote them, particularly within months, cultural months like Black History Month or Juneteenth. We talk about the value if we do choose that month in being able to capitalize on the additional attention and focus that the rest of the world continues to put on that month.

So we start there. We’re able to pitch to media in a way that we’re not able to in other months. We’re able to capitalize on the attention and create lists that may be picked up. In a way from audiences who are not necessarily focused on these initiatives outside of February, but as a company, we’re going to continue to focus on these initiatives.

So it creates a really good spark and a great jumping point to develop those relationships, have positive experiences for those businesses, and then continue to advocate for them throughout the rest of the year.

ERICA: I love that B, because as we’ve been having the Black History conversation as a community, a big thing that I’ve been telling our counterparts and our allies is that if you find that you don’t have an event with the Black-owned Business for February, please don’t fuss. Do it in March! Do it in April, I’ve been making the joke and I’ve seen a couple giggles from our allies that Black History Month is 365 for us, okay? We don’t take this skin off when we go to bed when we go to events, when we’re writing our reviews, and I believe, with myself, I attended HBCU, Florida Agricultural Mechanical University in Tallahassee, Florida, and it’s very important for me to continue to champion us, and I feel the same way about Latinx-owned businesses, Women-owned businesses, LGBTQIA owned businesses.

But of course, when it comes to an identity that is my own, I like to focus on that and I will say with the Yelp elite squad is, they don’t care if you are Black-owned, Woman-owned, whatever it may be, they’re going to give you their honest opinion and they’re not going to lead with a five star review just because they see that the owner is Black.

I’ve seen that at least in Atlanta that it’s an added benefit for us to be like, wow, not only am I enjoying a wonderful business, but I get to support someone who looks like me or people that I support. I have an extremely diverse squad here in Atlanta. Atlanta, of course, is one of the black meccas that we all know and love.

And I am always proud when I say that we have a Black-owned business and whether it’s my Black elites, my White elites, whoever may be, they’re extremely excited about the opportunity to pour back into our community. I love that we have the Black-owned attribute where businesses have to opt in. It’s not automatic.

You can look at someone, you know, well, we’re on a podcast. You can look at someone who looks like us and they may not identify as being Black. And I do love that Yelp has that option for them to opt into if they’d like to. So people can further support them and their wonderful business as well.

EMILY: I think I want to talk next about advice for consumers to find, explore and elevate minority businesses in their market. You all do a really good job making that connection between the business and your Elite squad. But I’d like to give some advice – just Elites, Yelp users, any consumers on how do you find, support, elevate some of those businesses in your market? Let me just use an example. I think sometimes with certain businesses, maybe it’s a type of cuisine that you haven’t tried before, or these different areas where it’s like. I would love to know about that, but I don’t even know where to begin.

Do you have any advice for how people can find some of those, maybe not as well known minority owned businesses in their area and check them out and try to give them a little bit of attention?

ERICA: Well, I happen to know a great app, called Yelp, they can check out, but as we said,

there’s a great feature on there where you can search Black-owned businesses, Black-owned restaurants, follow your local Yelp Instagram and see what we have going on again.

This is a year round plan for all of us. So definitely check out what’s happening in the community with your Yelp Community Manager. Share the word with your friends. We’re often tagged in posts on Instagram. So if you’re on social media, look around on there, search those hashtags of, Black-owned businesses in Atlanta

B: Additionally, we always have blogs for all of our social campaigns in many of our identities.

So keep an eye out on that as well as So that’s our lovely landing page for any events that are going on in the community and also as community managers We don’t just throw events for Yelp elites. We also throw events for the community. So occasionally you’ll find an event And many of our community managers, myself included, are the first introduction for folks to a new cuisine.

So if you’re afraid to go out and explore on your own, in my community, we’ve done binson, we’ve done Peruvian food, we’ve done soul food, we’ve introduced the community to so many different cuisines. And it’s not going to be your only first time. You’re going to have many additional folks, who are just as nervous, but just as excited about the cuisine.

EMILY: Let’s talk a bit about the cultural campaigns you’ve hosted in your markets recently, and the efforts to increase awareness around minority owned businesses

B: So I know in my market, last year I created an initiative to do a melanated Montgomery County market. We have Black-owned and Black led market. But they’re all in Houston proper because most of the businesses are located in Houston proper and they thrive. One thing I found, being a part of the culture, is that we have so many businesses that do not have a physical storefront, but still have great products.

So, finding a way to support them in their own space. And finding individuals who may not necessarily feel comfortable directly reaching out to them. We created something that was really interactive, where each vendor could showcase their product. And we did many meet the owners on site. So that there was a connective tissue between everybody who chose to come to the event, and those who are trying to advocate for themselves to the community.

And I found two things that happened that were really important for that community. All of my biz owners were able to connect with one another. So they’re still connecting, regardless of if I’m in the picture or not. I just was able to extend the olive branch. And two, this year, it was something that we weren’t able to do in that same format.

And yet in my inbox right now, I have four people who’ve reached back out and said, so when are we going to do this? That was really impactful for me. And we just don’t get the representation here.

EMILY: I also think B from your perspective, you’re kind of outside where they’re naturally located. I want to get some sentences out of you about why it’s important to still have them experienced out by where you are,

It’s not something like, oh, well, they’re there because that’s where they can make more money. If we actually got them connected to these consumers in this other area, they could thrive there too. They just don’t have as many opportunities to succeed because they’re not physically where they’re already acknowledged or recognized.

But I think that speaks to how so many of us miss out when we don’t explore those cultural differences that are available to us in our community.

B: I’m very much in the burbs. And yet there’s so much representation not only of my culture, but of other cultures. You have to seek them out. You have to be intentional, or you may never find them.

Also, I do think so many of those business owners feel a lot of pressure to present themselves in the city because that’s where the opportunity is, although they live and they are very much a part of the fabric of the surrounding areas. So the more that they’re able to be acknowledged and find growth in their own communities, the easier it is for them to stay and advocate for themselves and usually self identify within their communities.

And that’s something that I push very heavily with my community. We love Yelpers because as Erica said, it doesn’t really matter what you identify with. They look for good, amazing, quality local business owners and amazing business owner stories. I have to seek it out in my community, but when we’re able to make that connection and facilitate that connection, I think that’s where we really can say representation in those areas matters because it exists.

It’s just not being identified.

Anitra. I’m curious with OKC what is your experience like with that? And I know all three of us are very very In tune with many of our cultural campaigns, not just the ones that we identify with. And Anitra included. But since you’ve been in your market for about a year, what does that look like in terms of creating those initiatives?

ANITRA: It has had its challenges. I feel like not so much because I am a part of the culture and when a Black business owner sees me as the face of Yelp OKC, it kind of softens the conversation and it breaks down those barriers. Just off of seeing someone who looks like you and knowing that you can do business with someone who looks like you.

But it does bring up those uncomfortable conversations. If we’re circling back to the attributes, business owners not necessarily feeling comfortable with adding the attribute to their businesses, because Oklahoma is just not a place where minority owned businesses have always been the forethought for someone to patron.

We’re usually a heavy white business owned community. So for a lot of people to come in and want to support a Black-owned business, that’s not always met with love and kindness. It’s sometimes met with other things that aren’t always favorable.

It has its challenges, but it also has its perks at times, because I feel like I’m really able to bridge the gap in that area to where, hey, don’t worry about having the conversation with these other consumers, I’ll do that for you because I have this group of people that I can just already bring in who was looking forward to a great experience, no matter what, no matter what side of town it’s on. Just being able to do that makes it a lot easier for me in some ways, but also a little difficult in some ways where I’m not always sure if people are going to be so kind and generous to the business owner or to the area that we’re in, or maybe making insensitive comments about the location or the business always not being aesthetically pleasing. Like you would with another business that might have a more generous marketing budget, disposable funds for other things like that. It has its pros and it has its cons, but it’s always one that I’m willing to stand up and advocate for. Get your cute butts over here. We’re going to this business and you’re going to love it You’re gonna tell other people about it because it’s great not because it’s Black-owned but because it’s just a incredible business that people should know about.

EMILY: I would envision that as you guys help businesses create whatever this experience is going to be that you’re putting on for your Elites, you’re kind of helping them highlight what is most reflective of their business.

If we’re going to use a restaurant as an example, I’m sure they’re passionate about what they want to serve. And you’re helping them figure out how to best represent themselves so that your Elites have a good experience and want to come back.

What are some of those things that maybe they’re not related to cultural heritage at all. It’s just like, this is what’s going to make a great experience for consumers and going to make them want to come back. Is it a connection to their story? Is it that great customer service, or maybe it is something about their identity and sharing their heritage, and that connects the consumer to them.

But is there anything that you feel like you commonly help business owners navigate, whether it’s Black-owned or not, just as it relates to figuring out how to best reflect who they are as they market themselves?

ERICA: Yeah, on mine and in Atlanta, every event, I do a little moment of saying hellos and introductions.

And it’s very important for me to explain why we’re working with that business, why I chose to partner with them, whether they hopped in our DMs, whether they’ve been a place that I had been looking at since I moved to Atlanta, whatever may be. And the biggest thing that I beg of them – being a person who’s not afraid of public speaking, I have to beg them, please just tell us your story because so many people really just assume that you just wake up one day and say, you know what? I’d like to start a business. And that’s not how it goes.

And they’re opening their doors to us. They’re welcoming them in. They might as well be welcoming us into their homes. And so to understand their story is so important. I’ve worked with businesses who opened in the pandemic, they lost someone special to them in the process, but they decided to keep going.

People who have used their grandmother’s recipes, those stories matter, not just to us, not just to Yelp Elites, but to all Yelpers, to many foodies, to many people who are out and about, because when you’re eating these great dishes, when you’re going to these great businesses. You’re wondering whose hands are preparing them.

I’m a spiritual superstitious person. I think about my locks, and whose hands are in my hair, the love being poured into the food that I’m eating. And that means so much of who’s behind the counter when they’re taking your order, who’s pouring your drinks. and I think that’s such an important connection.

So I ask business owners, tell us your story and do what you do. I got everything else. Okay. Bring your great attitude. Do your thing. If you don’t want to speak, no stress. I’ll tell your whole story for you, but it really takes it to another level when you can hear it in their voice and you hear the passion and you hear the things that they’ve gone through to put that plate in front of you, to open their doors to you and to get where they are right now, whether they’re 4.5 stars on Yelp, 5 stars, or if they’re continuing to grow.

That’s a big thing that I tell every business owner, no matter their background, tell us your story, tell us about you. Let’s be besties by the end of the night, because now I want to come back. I want to support you because we’re family. So that’s a huge thing with me in Atlanta,

ANITRA: This is one thing that I think I really do enjoy about being able to be the CM in a market like Oklahoma. I’ll give you a specific example. We have this area in Oklahoma called East Point and it’s on a side of town that I was born and raised in.

I’m born and raised in Oklahoma. I’m going to tell my age. I’ve been here for 40 years, so I know all about Oklahoma. So side of town born and raised on and a lot of those businesses I’ve partnered with in this last year. And they’re all Black or minority-owned businesses in an urban community. So just being able to have someone share their story, like Erica said, is what’s most important to me.

If I have to make the social media posts for you, if I have to give you the wording, if I have to do all of the heavy lifting, I’m more than willing to do those things because I want everyone to know that you’re here and I want them to know why you are here. It’s a grocery store that just got put there maybe a year or so ago, and I remember going to the grocery store for the very first time and it bringing tears to my eyes. You hear my voice is almost trembling talking about it. It bringing tears to my eyes because my great grandmother lived in that area for 70, 80 years, and she never had a grocery store that was convenient for her to get to.

And now that’s there and it should be so many other people who get to experience that. Or pour back into that community that would not have had access to those things if it wasn’t for not only just a Black-owned business, but non black consumers being willing to come and shop and experience and share and all of those things. So whatever I have to do for a business to say, yeah, we’ll work with you. I’m more than willing to do. Because I just want everybody to know about it.

B: It’s so true. It’s business, but we all grow through connection. And that has been one of the most important things that I’ve learned in this role.

If any business owner were to have only one interaction with a Community Manager, I think it’d be to tell their story. Because our main job is to be able to tell your story in your way. It can be really intimidating working with a company like Yelp in a sense, because I think everyone has that fear of being misunderstood, or their story being misinterpreted.

But you never know where that string is going to really connect and attach to somebody, and that’s where we find that beauty, and that’s when we really create that momentum. And I, too, had a business owner and she is an advocate for a family of children with disabilities, so she has two children with disabilities. I invited her out. She doesn’t have a storefront. We made it work. It was a whole thing. And she was really nervous about talking about her story, her background, her kids. It’s really personal. It’s really sensitive. We ended up in a position where the other biz owner was a little more hesitant.

And so she had to take a little bit of the lead. And with a bit of encouragement, she got really vulnerable with the group that was there. It was a really intimate group. People were crying after she told her story. And a year later, literally December of last year, I caught up with an Elite who was at an event and came up to me and grabbed me by the shoulders and said, I have to tell you something.

And I was very nervous because that could mean anything. It was so positive. She mentioned that business by name. Told me that she reached out to her directly because she works for a clinic that works with the same disability as her son. And she wanted that whole clinic to be able to experience number one, the product of that person. And number two, understand the story.

That the business owner made her custom macaroons. And this is a story about epilepsy. So they were brain macaroons for the entire clinic, thousands of dollars with that business. And from that, a few people continued to speak her name over and over. We start to see things like, now you have new segments. Now you have this, now you have that.

And she goes, B, I was so ecstatic to be able to tell you this, but I had to tell you in person. And that was because of the connection that you made. And to build on that, after that story, because me and her are just crying in tears, I walk over to another Elite, and I was mentioning how important what we do is, and how impactful it is for each of us to be able to be empowered and tell our stories and be vulnerable. And she goes, oh my gosh I wasn’t diagnosed with epilepsy until adulthood. I’m Black and it’s really stigmatized in the community. Who is this person? I want to reach out to them now.

So I love that what we do is not only advocate for these businesses, but in some ways, we’re able to find that really sweet spot that creates a domino effect for the business and we’re able to feel intrinsically motivated, or at least I feel intrinsically motivated, when someone’s able to be vulnerable enough to tell me their story and we’re able to articulate it in a way that other people can also connect to – with almost the same strength as they feel it and have experienced it.

ERICA: I love that so much B because it’s surprising. I’m over here trying not to cry. I’m a Pisces, but it’s such an, it’s so emotional. We touch so many people, beyond business owners, it’s Yelpers alike, the stories that we hear, letting us know, Hey, Erica, just going out to that event last night. That’s the first event I’ve been to since I had my baby, I lost someone in my family and the Yelp Elite squad is where I get to go have fun. So that means so much in this position that we are blessed to be witness to the growth of these businesses and to hear their stories and to share their stories.

So I love hearing that so much from y’all as well.

ANITRA: Yeah, I definitely agree with all of those things. It just warms my whole heart to know that I was able to bridge the gap between business and several people. It brings me such gratitude because I feel like, what do you do these things for, if not for that? If you cannot use your platform, whatever that may be, to grow somebody’s business or to give somebody a new perception of what they thought might have been or could have been. It’s all for nothing. It’s all for just fluffing to say we had a good time. I love that we are all able to make such a great impact in various ways in various markets, because at the end of the day, we’re all about people.

We are people driven. We are community driven. And that’s what produces great results for us all.

EMILY: I love that so much. I feel like to close out, I should have you each give a little tip, whether it’s like a tip that you’ve given business owners before that’s really helped them get more visibility, or engage with customers. Or a tip for consumers, ways that they can elevate business owners or I don’t know, whatever kind of tips you have.

But before we dig into that. Was there anything else that you wanted to talk about as it relates to the value of black and minority businesses? Anything that you thought we would dig into about the identity element of these businesses?

ERICA: B spoke about all the great possibilities, and things that we do as CMs. Beyond these wonderful events, we also do different social media features. Working with Yelp, it’s free marketing, we’re offering free marketing beyond this connection and a really, really fabulous time.

There’s so many different ways to go about it, to just be featured on your local Yelp, at least Instagram. To partner up for those events. Yelp, we have a 15 percent pledge, which we go above and beyond with, but just to make sure that we are focused 15 percent of our business with those Black-owned businesses, whether it’s through social media, through events, all of the above. And I think that’s a great thing.

And two tips that I have for one for businesses and one for consumers. For consumers – I had been in reputation management before I officially joined team Yelp. And I learned that people are quicker to vent than they are to praise. And I think if we all just take a moment to be more focused on praising versus venting, we’ll all be better people for it.

I have been in so many different parts of customer service where literally it’s just my job to get yelled at, smile and to help you through the process. That’s not what my job at Yelp is about because we want to champion the great constructive feedback. Obviously there’s feedback that maybe is not the best, but it should be addressed and business owners do a fantastic job about making sure they do that.

I look at those reviews and we see that all the time, but I think we all take a moment to focus on those five star experiences that we have versus just the one star. We’ll all be better people for it. Yelp will be better for it as well. Because the focus is sharing those experiences and hope that someone else will say, you know what, I love to check that place out. There are going to be somewhere you’re like, you know what, maybe that’s not the place for me, but let’s be quicker to praise than we are to vent.

And for business owners, I think my greatest tip would be to reach out to your local community manager. Sometimes that just starts with sending a DM on Instagram. ‘Hey, how can you help me? Hey, that event looks really cool.’ There have been so many partnerships, opportunities, that have been created through someone simply messaging Yelp Atlanta and saying, that looks really cool. How can I do that? And boom, we start the conversation and they end our conversation saying, so how much will that cost me? And I’m like, Oh my God, babes, it’s free. This is literally what we’re here to do. It’s such a joy. And we get to say, no, we are here for you.

So reach out, ask us about the resources that we can offer, put some time on our calendar and let’s just chat about everything that we can do to help you and champion you in our communities.

B: We have so many tools and it goes far beyond restaurants. So we work with artists regularly to be able to roll out different products that are community wide, that are featured in parts of our events. Featured in so many of our initiatives.

We champion other types of artwork as well. Caricature artists, quick draw artists, all sorts of things. It goes far beyond restaurants. I think that folks really assume Yelp equals food, but Yelp really does equal community, and connection.

If I were to give any advice, it would be really similar to Erica’s. Coming from a psych perspective, it’s so easy for us to focus on the negative, period. And it can be really difficult to get out of that mindset. I found the best interactions I’ve had at places with negative experiences is usually when I take that tough step and say, let me just have a conversation with somebody about this.

Let me have a conversation with the owner, just let them know this is what’s going on. Sometimes, especially with those hyper local places, those places are their babies. They’re really eager to rectify the situation. They don’t want you to have a bad time.

Positioning yourself as truly a community advocate as opposed to Yelp being your venting platform. We have plenty of other social media platforms if you want to do that.

EMILY: Anitra, you’ve been tasked with bringing us home, so I hope you have something good up your sleeve for us.

ANITRA: Besides what has already been mentioned, my number one tip is always to ask someone how you can help, like how you can be of service.

How can I help you grow your business? What do you really need today? What would be helpful for you today? That’s always my stance that I want to take when I’m dealing with anybody. You want it, you want to pour into people more than you take from them. This could work for business or consumer.

As much as I really did not like this phrase during the before times in the pandemic, just show people grace. I just really wanted to get rid of that. But here we are in the now times and it really is just about showing people grace. You don’t know who didn’t show up to work and that’s why it’s taking you forever to get your sandwich that you wanted to have on your lunch break or maybe the toaster went out and we are in here hand toasting bread with the butter and a butter knife, just so many things that we don’t take into consideration, that we don’t see because we’re not behind the scenes to just like let people breathe, give them a little grace, show them a little love and compassion for what they are going through in their day because it could really, really go a long way.

So those are my, just my two tips, just love on people, just be kind.

EMILY: I appreciate you three so much. And the work that the Community Managers and Elites do to really highlight places they love, it has helped balance out all of that general negativity that you think about with the Internet. Yelp is inherently positive, more five stars than one, two and three, but that’s due a lot in part to the work that Community Managers do to highlight great places and really encourage people to share great places. And if they are going to share a less than great experience to be helpful in that feedback, as opposed to just critical without any outcome.

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