When many people think of Yelp, they probably think of it primarily as restaurant reviews. But the users of the massive social networking site review every kind of business, from dry cleaners to acupuncturists. People like to express their opinions, good and bad, and Yelp has provided users an outlet for their thoughts, impressions, and feelings since 2004.
But Yelp also goes beyond being some massive aggregation of anonymous reviews. It's a true social network where users can converse, earn badges, become members of the "Elite Squad", and even attend offline meetups. When an area gets populated and active enough, it officially becomes its own community and is assigned a community manager -- a Yelp employee whose job it is to liaison with Yelpers in a given area. They arrange events, communicate with users, write reviews, and generally manage the community -- as the title implies.
Before March, the Broward Palm Beach community was left mooching off its Yelp hub to the south, Miami. But after witnessing a thriving local populace of foodie and other reviewers, Broward Palm Beach Yelp launched and, with it, a new community manager to play ringmaster to it all.
Born and raised in Miami, Blue Arauz (also known by his Yelp display name as Blue "Daba Dee Daba Di" A) studied marketing and journalism at FIU and never saw himself embarking on a career in the online realm. Working previously in marketing at local nightclubs, his life changed when he landed a dream internship with Yelp Miami.
"I instantly fell in love with the culture and the brand." Arauz says. "After three months, I was promoted to marketing assistant and helped throw some great Yelp events."
Finding his niche in the internet review company, Arauz credits Johhny T, the Miami community manager, for mentoring him up the corporate ladder.
"It's almost like [Johhny T] was grooming me for something, but I had no idea Broward-Palm Beach was even launching in March. I applied, and here I am now, living in a new community and exploring all the wonderful things it has to offer."
Now that our neck of the woods has a Yelp community to call its own, expect two to four Yelp events a month. Businesses, meanwhile, will have someone with their same area code to act as a liaison to the online users.
Arauz hopes to foster an offline camaraderie among Yelpers in the neighborhood with his new job as community manager.
"I hope to cultivate this unmeasurable love for our communities through our Yelpers and other members of the community." Arauz said. "We help create a deep pride in where you are from and supporting the local businesses."
For Arauz, his favorite things to review are restaurants. However, he's trying to review other businesses too.
"I just reviewed an oil change place that I went to since I was in high school," Arauz explains. "It brought back some memories, and I couldn't wait to tell people how great it was so they can go there too."
For beginning Yelpers, Arauz advises that you treat your Yelp profile like a blog, writing about places you enjoy in your own voice.
"I say just be honest and be yourself, let your personality show in your reviews," Arauz suggests. "At the same time, remember to state facts and make the review useful to another reader."
Once you've mastered the reviewing part, Arauz suggests participating in talk threads and strolling into some Yelp events in person. Then one day, you'll be in possession of a coveted, shiny "Elite Member" badge on your profile, giving you instant credibility and Yelp fame.