One of my eternal struggles is working on writing. Now, as a former English major, writing has been something enjoyable for me, but finding the time to consistently write outside of a mandatory assignment is a challenge. So last autumn, I decided to kick-start myself into writing more by contributing reviews to Yelp.By now, everyone has pretty much heard of Yelp. When you hear about Yelp in casual conversation, it’s usually in the vein of how someone had a bad experience at a venue, and to borrow the words of Jessica Day, Yelp was used to “torch” the offender. But Yelp is a lot more than just a place you can rant about bad service: it’s a website for users to submit their reviews of local businesses and to search other reviews to make more informed decisions about where to eat, where to shop, where to medicate, where to take the dog, etc.
I Yelp because I want to make informed decisions on spending my money, and not only that, I write about my experiences to help others make better decisions. Not only can you write reviews, but you can also leave tips about places visited. If you notice something, like say a coffee shop only has mini-moo creamers, you can leave a tip and let others know without sitting down and writing a review. When I’m out and about in a new area, I use Yelp to figure out what’s good in the vicinity. Last time I was in Dallas, Yelp pointed me towards Spiral Diner, a diner that at the bare minimum is vegetarian and had many gluten-free and vegan options. Without my trusty Yelp app, how would I have known?
Yelp is also fantastic for connecting people to events in the community, which is especially handy if you’re new to the area. Without Yelp, I would not have known the Wedge Pizzeria has a Local Beer Party each spring or that Momentum is an awesome local art show that happens annually. Without Yelp, I wouldn’t have known about all the cool touristy things we can do in our very own city (Thanks, Yelp’s Summer Bucket List!) The Events tab on Yelp is one I check regularly to see what’s going on in OKC. I Yelp because it helps me stay connected to what’s going on around me in the community.
After writing reviews for a while and sharing my opinions on places around Oklahoma City and beyond, I received this shiny email:
“Yelp Elite? What’s that?” I had wondered. Turns out when Yelp or someone on Yelp likes your reviews, they can nominate you for your local Elite squad. Being Elite means you get invitations to exclusive events, access to specials, a chance to network and mingle with other folks in the area, and a shiny Elite! badge on your profile. Every year, this mysterious ~Yelp Council~ out in San Francisco picks who’s Elite — so if you’re Elite in 2014, you might not be in 2015, etc. Sure, it sounds well, elitist, but really, all you have to do is write reviews and either get nominated or nominate yourself. I Yelp because I get to meet and hangout with cool people who I otherwise might not have met.
So far, I have attended events at OVAC, Rococo, Revel Eight, and much more are available for Elites. My favorite by far was the event at Revel Eight– not only did we have snacks catered by vendors such as Packards and Prairie Vodka, but salon services were available for sampling. In one evening, I had a neck massage, a hand treatment, and my hair chalked. Being an Elite member is definitely a nice bonus for Yelping, but as outlined above, it’s by far not the only reason why I use Yelp!
And there are many Yelp events that you don’t even have to be an Elite to attend. This Thursday is Yelp OKC’s annual open party for anyone over 21 with a Yelp account: the Yelpies. Sign up with your Yelp account and come enjoy all sorts of tasty food and drink as well as entering raffles and supporting The Homeless Alliance. It’s a great opportunity to have fun, meet new people, and see what Yelp is all about here in Oklahoma City!