Yelp, The Next Best Social Network?

**The following is a guest post by Angelica Nava, an innovator, and social media marketer in San Francisco. Enjoy!**

I find myself in constant geo-location check-in / social media competition with a certain Dan W, @dpwalsh, and danw, depending on your social vehicle of choice. In the spirit of friendly rivalry, I decided to massively friend people on Yelp because, shame of all shames, he outnumbers me by an embarrassingly large number (even though, I mean, I don’t want to brag, but I’m Elite). I logged onto Yelp…and froze. Where to start? I tentatively clicked on someone’s profile from the front page, and started to read. Nope, this person seemed to frequent the Marina a little too often for my taste. I clicked another. This person seemed to barely give any real thought to his reviews; I couldn’t support THAT. My experiment ended with my issuing a single (and I like to think coveted) invitation. The experience got me thinking–how can Yelp become more of a social resource? I have an idea to start:

Better Utilize Check-Ins

I think (and correct me, Jeremy S, if I’m wrong) that you can only see your friends’ check-ins, and only when you happen to land on the page of a place in which they’ve already checked in. (see screenshot)

What I’d Like To See

I’d like to be able to go to a business’ page and see something like a rolling list of ALL recent check-ins, or a list of people with the most check-ins, or check-ins from the past 24 hours, whatever. Not only can I see if my friends have checked in recently, the point of all this geo-location business, but I can also find people I might want to make my friends–“Hmm, Person X has 5 check-ins at the 24th Street Philz this week; maybe I’ll friend him.” In this way, Yelp could facilitate meaningful interaction. When I friend someone, I rarely go with the default “Your reviews are great; let’s be friends!”, so, for example, I could say, “Hey, I’m at Philz all the time too. Maybe I’ll see you around sometime!” Potentially a tad creepy? Yeah, I guess so. But a.) Who wouldn’t want their very own stalker? (KIDDING. Only if they’re attractive. STILL KIDDING.), and b.) If you don’t want it; don’t opt in. Don’t check in in the first place. The positives outweigh the negatives here. Imagine you’re new to a city. How better to meet people and make friends than by frequenting the same places? Yelp creates an automatic bridge when you already have something in common. Think of the other possibilities too! Need a gym buddy? Check out who else is checking in as often and at the same time. And the dating possibilities, oh my goodness! “Oh, you’re here too? So WEIRD that we keep running into each other! Kismet?”

Yelp is obviously the go-to source for reviews, but people often have few friends, or the few that they have rarely reflect real-life friends. My idea could (picture me bowing my head in modesty) revolutionize this: on Facebook, you friend people you already know. On Yelp…you could friend people you WANT to know.

What do you all think? Take it to the comments, people.

**Angelica is a first-time guest writer on Dan’s blog. She can be found in the aforementioned Philz, or wearing Dan’s clothes around the Mission. Friend her on Yelp: angelicaln.yelp.com**

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4 Comments on “Yelp, The Next Best Social Network?”

  1. danwalsh Says:

    I think Yelp has a rare opportunity here. The Elite system (and all the debauchery awarded to those who obtain it) dangles a highly motivational carrot for checking in. A carrot which in my opinion is sorely lacking from Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, MyTown, etc. Sure, ‘mayors’ might get half off a pizza or a free beer, but that’s IF one can nab that title. Elite status is much more tangible, and from personal experience, much more encouraging. Facilitating personal interaction by way of the above proposed system would provide additional incentive to check-in on Yelp, possibly catapulting it ahead of Foursquare as the geo-service of choice.

    PS – If any community organizers are reading this… I want in! (http://www.yelp.com/user_details?userid=UTYTFK-ui4BamBvrOn5ELA)

  2. Angelica Says:

    Shameless self-promotion, Dan W.

    SHAME! (Modern Family reference, FYI)

  3. h Says:

    Friendship on social networks centers on status. Yelp in more explicit in some respect, because the main benefit of having lots of friends is that it leads to more votes on reviews. Sure, some of my Yelp friends are my actual friends, but there are certainly a ton of people I don’t care about.

    With that said, I have noticed that I get friend requests based on my check-ins, so Angelica may be onto something here.

    At the very least, visualizing recent check-ins could give some sense of how popular a venue is and when.


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