If a picture is worth a thousand words, how valuable a video must be! Emily is joined by Yelp’s San Diego community manager, Anne, to chat about creating video content for social media. Anne shares actionable tips—including how to get that perfect shot and the benefits of scheduling apps—to help you level up your content.
On the Yelp Blog: Read more tips from Anne, including how to make content from the things you do in a standard day.
EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Every episode I pick one review on Yelp and talk to the entrepreneur and the reviewer about the story and business lessons behind their interactions. This week we threw our standard style completely out the window, and I took 15 minutes to chat with one of Yelp’s Community Managers about the social strategy that has been helping their engagement skyrocket and how you can apply it to your business’s social strategy: video.
Just a few weeks ago I saw Anne posting about how much her capabilities with social video and specifically the reel feature has grown over time. And I knew there were learnings and takeaways this audience could use! And as always, we circle the conversation around to reviews as well. So stay tuned for that! Let’s dive right into our conversation.
ANNE: I started learning video editing in this role, actually. I didn’t know it before I worked for Yelp, but when I was trying to figure out what business owners needed, that’s when I was like, they need content. That’s why they’re hosting events with us. Like, yes. I want feedback. Yes. They want memories. Yes. They want customers, but a lot of them were like, ‘Oh, you’ll bring in a photographer. Oh, you’ll make a video.’ They, of course, want the added value of everything else we can provide.
So I’ve been teaching myself and then when Instagram reels came out, I was able to hit the ground running with that. Since I’ve been in San Diego, I’ve posted 125 reels. My total views right now are 2.8 million views. And that’s just on the Yelp San Diego account.
EMILY: Wow. I’m blown away, blown away by that, for one. I want to take it back a step to when you were talking about teaching yourself. I think a lot of business owners or just people in general, like myself on my mental health account. I don’t do a lot of that stuff because of the barrier of teaching myself, can you just walk me through that? How did you teach yourself? What were the things you looked at or learned from?
ANNE: Yeah. So I’ve only done it on the apps. And thankfully we are in a landscape or even like the native Instagram app and Tik Tok have really good built-in editing programs.
They want to make it easy. And what I always say about Instagram reels is kind of like my little tagline when I teach my own reels summits, that type of stuff is, it’s just digital popcorn. If you’re scrolling and you’re eating a thing of popcorn, you put a kernel in your mouth and it was a little crunchy or it was a little burnt or whatever.
You’re not going to just throw out the whole bowl and say, ‘Oh, I’m never eating popcorn again.’ And that would be the equivalent of if you post a bad reel, they’re not going to just unfollow the account because you had one bad piece of content or one that was just not as good as the other ones.
So really by treating it like digital popcorn, potato chips, it’s just a snack. You’re not worried about making it a commercial. You’re not worried—simple is really what drives. And I think, especially with a business owner who does not want to be a content creator, they do not have time.
They do not have energy. Is just really driving in that at the end of the day video content is what performs well on Instagram. It’s what they’re pushing out. It’s how you get on the Discover page and how you reach new customers. And so just do it. It doesn’t have to be great, honestly. The more you do it, the faster and easier it is. My initial reels, especially when I was making IGTV, long-term formats. It used to take me probably 45 minutes to an hour and a half, if not longer for if I’m trying to get the voiceovers right, all that stuff. Now, most of my real estate, about 15, 20 minutes.
It’s something that I’ve experienced too so it’s easier to write about too. And I just really just take the pressure off and again, it’s just digital popcorn, just eat it and go.
EMILY: That is the best analogy I have ever heard for content creation, particularly for social. I think a lot of business owners have this barrier sometimes to wanting the content to look perfect or be perfect.
Can you talk about the value or how you’ve seen people maybe react to that more like raw or behind the scenes type of content?
ANNE: Yeah, I mean, I think the biggest thing is to do all of it. With the, with the content that’s out there, I’ve seen it go both ways where the content that I’m like, okay, no, I’m going to do everything I need to do. I’m going to do the voiceovers. I’m going to do the captions. I’m going to do everything. Sometimes those videos do perform great. Truly! But then I posted a matcha ice cream one last night, that’s already at 25,000 views and under 12 hours. And that was just two clips. Really easy, natural light. My caption wasn’t even anything in depth. Didn’t use hashtags—Instagram latches on to video content. So I always say get it 15 seconds or less, if you can, is a good one. Because then you can at least share tp stories. If people share it, things like that, and just make it shareable and saveable that like tag a friend type stuff, that energy, instead of trying to be a commercial for it. We’re past that. And thankfully, Instagram’s also moving past the days of very curated feeds where you need to have a balance of like people aren’t looking at Instagram feeds the same way, especially if you’re posting daily. Just go, it’s just a bowl of popcorn.
EMILY: Ok, so daily, is that kind of what you’re doing right now?
ANNE: That’s what I aim to do. It’s the same way with our elite squad program. We want to see our elite constantly reviewing, going out to their favorite places. It’s the same with Instagram. They want to see their creators and their businesses consistently putting out content that’s what’s important.
EMILY: Totally. So I know you mentioned that you didn’t use hashtags on that cool macha one, but do you have any hashtag advice? Is that something you still spend time on?
ANNE: So Instagram is actually moving towards being more SEO optimized in their captions. And so a lot of times I will just use the caption and I like to copy and paste reviews.
I don’t pare them down cause I don’t necessarily care about my audience reading every line of the review. I find that to be almost, if not, just as effective as spending time with hashtags.
EMILY: That’s a really cool thing about Instagram having more like SEO of the captions, because you would think that would make more sense, right?
Hashtags are so hard, especially if you don’t understand the concept of needing to find one with a lot of followers.
These are such great tips. Do you have any tips for business owners of when they should be doing it themselves, or when they should consider hiring someone or giving it to a staff member, I’m sure restaurants have hostesses that help with their social and stuff. Do you give them advice on that?
ANNE: I have not. What I’ve seen works best, for myself personally, and then from some other businesses I’ve worked with is to build your own content library.
So if you do have people on staff that are getting photos and videos, they can say, yeah, I have some cocktail videos in this folder here and yeah, drop them in. As far as scheduling, I highly recommend using a schedule tool like Later or Plan. It really takes a lot of that weight off.
And I would say that would probably be the strongest use if you are outsourcing your social media. Because then as a business owner, you can still go in and review those posts, make sure that it’s representing your company the way you want it to. I would definitely recommend leaning into a content library and scheduling out that content.
EMILY: I’m thinking a little bit about what you said about how you share reviews. Do you have advice for business owners on the best way to share their reviews on social media? And have you ever seen anyone do anything unique with reviews and video before?
ANNE: I have not because Instagram text is on video – sometimes they love it, sometimes they don’t. So I have not seen anyone use the reviews and video, except for, I think I did see one person use it as like their background. They were essentially reading a review while showing the photos. I’ve played with the idea of doing that. That would be a great way to incorporate, especially if you’re not thinking about, “Okay. I don’t know what voiceover I want,” if you even want a voiceover at all. Which I don’t think is always necessary because again, simple as fine, as long as you’re putting it out there.
EMILY: That’s perfect. A question I’d like to ask is for these business owners, when they’re getting in the habit of creating content and posting…talk to me about the importance or value of engagement beyond just that post. How do you monitor if people are commenting, do you reply to them? Talk to me about the engagement just beyond putting it out there.
ANNE: Yeah. So I think engaging with the comments is such a great way to keep people engaged with your handle.
And that’s also something that’s really great if you do have a junior staff member or someone that is specific, that’s such an easy way to get them to do it instead of it being the business owner. You do get some interesting feedback and you do see…iIt’s fun getting the compliments. It’s fun seeing like that, it looks so good. And you’re like, “Yeah, it does!” And so I think it’s nice to get those, like those little rewards that, um, come along through the comments as far as the importance of it. If you can only prioritize one thing, just put the content out there. It’s okay. That’s the most important part, because even in my position, I can’t do it all.
I think you do have to pick and choose, and if you’re going to put your resources towards something, it should be the content creation versus engagement.
EMILY: Perfect. That’s great advice. We’ve covered so much good stuff, but I like this final point you just said about, you have to prioritize, right? And you can’t do everything, you can’t be the best at everything.
Do you have any advice for that? From the perspective of like, okay. In my opinion, social media can be kind of all consuming when you are posting so much and getting so much back, do you have boundaries for yourself when you check it versus don’t like any tips or things in that nature?
ANNE: Yeah. So I don’t have any notifications on my phone for emails, social media, etc, because I naturally check those so much anyways. I don’t need to be pulled out of what I’m doing to check it at that moment. You are running a social media account for a restaurant or a business. Nothing is going to be on fire that is going to be an emergency, in that way. So if you’re a business with open hours, I would probably be a little more on top of things during hours. But after hours, it’s after hours. There’s nobody there. If someone were to come knock on your door, you’re not going to be able to come answer their question right away.
It can wait until tomorrow.
EMILY: Oh I have another good question! Talk to me about any additional things that you use to really empower your smartphone as this mega tool. Do you have a light that you recommend or anything like that?
ANNE: Yeah, so I do try to keep up with the latest iPhone because their camera just gets better and better.
I have a super basic, simple tripod. That allows me to wrap it around objects. So if I have a chair instead of a table, I can wrap it around the highest part of the chair. I also have a very small – it was $9 – a light box. So that way, if I don’t have great natural light to use, I can pop that in there. And then as far as apps go, I really like InShot for an app. They make things really easy. They have more tools than I even know what to do with. I really liked that one, and then another one I like is called Mojo. And then until I use plan or later for social media scheduling.
ANNE: What I suggest doing too, is look at the major media partners and businesses like that in your area or nationwide and tag them in your posts.
But also look at who’s tagging them, because you might find some talented content creators that are looking for freelance work. You might find that they want photos and videos for their feed and they’ll ask you to repost it and then you get extra audience that way. Just tagging those larger accounts in those really well-respected and loved accounts really will help push that a little bit before.
EMILY: That’s awesome. We got so many good tips in there, but is there anything that I didn’t cue you up for about video, social reviews or reputation and how that kind of plays into this? Anything like that?
ANNE: I think the biggest thing is to remember that you do already have more content than you think you do, especially as a business owner on Yelp.
You do already have the reviews. You can look and see what dishes are being recommended. And now we have the popular drinks that are being recommended. You can see what the content that people want to have, and create content around that. Start with your most popular things and then start featuring those ones that man, I really wished they knew we did this or offered this, but start with the most popular ones. Build your audience and go from there.