Mapping Out Your Social Media Strategy With Yelp’s Lara Betthauser
This week, Yelp Small Business Expert Emily Washcovick sits down with Yelp Social Media Manager Lara Betthauser to talk about tactics for managing your social media pages effectively—plus how to get over the scary idea of video content by using existing resources: your employees.
From the Yelp Blog: Get five tips from Lara on how to create a social media calendar for your small business.
EMILY: I’m Emily Washcovick, Yelp’s Small Business Expert. Typically I share a story featuring conversations with a business owner as well as someone who wrote them a Yelp review. But this week we’re doing things a little differently and I’m sitting down with Lara Betthauser to talk about social strategy and content creation. Let’s give our conversation a listen.
LARA: Hi, I’m Lara Betthauser. I’m a social media manager at Yelp, overseeing the Yelp and Yelp for Business social strategy.
Before I started at Yelp almost two years ago, I previously worked at the brewers association, then a trade organization for all of America’s small and independent craft brewers. And previously, before that, I worked at OtterBox and LifeProof, the cell phone case company. When I first started working at Yelp, I was overseeing the Yelp for business strategy and I launched and grew the Yelp for Business social channels. And I’ve recently transitioned to overseeing both the Yelp and Yelp for Business social strategy.
EMILY: We started this conversation to discuss social media for small businesses because you launched the Yelp for Business Instagram page. Not only did you have to build the content, but you also set the tone for the page, answering the question: How was Yelp going to talk to our audience?
What did those early days look like and how do you make those initial decisions to build the Instagram presence into what it is today?
LARA: It definitely took a lot of planning. I think with some of my background experience working for the brewers association, it was a similar concept of brewers and brewery owners. They’re doing everything. So not only are they the beer maker, they’re the beer tender. They’re also the janitor. So I tried to bring that experience into the Yelp for Business role, really coming in and thinking about the social strategy. Yelp’s team—especially on the consumer side, in all of our great Yelp local channels—has so much great content featuring businesses, great local food spots, things to do.
But we’re really trying to get at those business owners and wanted to see how can we break through the crowd and how can we make an impact. Through trial and error, we did some experimenting upfront, and even though we originally had a plan, the plan changed multiple times to really see what would get the business owners to engage with us.
One of the really big things that we thought about was that they don’t have time. So how can we give them tips, tricks, inspiration really quick upfront that would make them give us to follow and start following along?
EMILY: A lot of small business owners start their social accounts by themselves, before the business takes off. Maybe in the beginning, they’re uploading photos from professional shoots they’ve done before or they have someone who is taking pictures and videos in the business, but if they’re not planning and scheduling content, they very quickly deprioritize social media.
And suddenly, they’re only posting once a week or every couple of weeks. One of the things you do really well—and I think business owners could do more of—is scheduling content. Can you speak to that?
LARA: Just like everything else, planning is the roadmap for the future. So if you don’t have the planning, it can make it a really daunting task. So, at Yelp for Business, when we were scheduling out our content calendar, it was a month in advance, which I understand not every business owner has the time to sit down for a couple hours and get that jotted down.
But even if it’s even a week at a time or two weeks at a time, I really suggest businesses sitting down, seeing what content they could get out so that they can focus on other things during the week. If you’re not thinking about it, obviously social media is one of those things that it’s important, but it’s one of those things that’s going to get easily written off the list.
Even if you are scheduling out content and let’s say two weeks, a month in advance, things are always going to come up. If you have a live event, if you have a special event, things can always get moved around. But at least you have content that you’re pushing off into the next month or you’re always having backup content.
You always want to experiment with different things as well. So don’t be afraid to try different things, and at the end of the month or after the two weeks that you’ve scheduled content, go back and make sure you’re looking at that performance. Not only how many likes did it get, but did anybody comment? Did anybody share it with someone? Did anybody save it to their profile, especially on Instagram? You want to look to see what’s performing well and try and put themes together to see how you can incorporate that moving forward.
EMILY: I think a lot of times business owners are afraid to talk about themselves. We all get a little awkward about that. But it’s important to remember, someone is always looking for what you do, what service you provide, or what you sell. So your content is always relevant, even if you feel like you’re being repetitive.
How do you mix it up and make sure that you have relevant content at the right time?
LARA: Coming up with different content ideas can be a lot to think about. It’s great to find some other people, maybe not competitors, but other people in your market that you could look at to see what they’re sharing. There’s great channels out there, especially on Instagram that you can start to follow to get different ideas.
Yes, video is huge right now, but also there’s different carousel posts and different stack posts and Instagram stories. And so how are you mixing up that content? Other things you can think about is: What holidays are coming down the pipeline or what special things are happening that your business is celebrating?
Now, it might not make sense for you to talk about national wine day, but maybe about summer solstice, June 21, is the longest day of the year. Maybe your business is going to be open a little bit longer or maybe you’re having a special. It’s an easy way to tie those certain days in. You don’t have to say there’s a national whatever day, every day to help your content calendar, but it can definitely take some pressure off to be able to schedule things more in advance.
If you’re scheduling out in advance, schedule evergreen content, so if something does come up that you’re like, ‘ooh, I want to play off of this,’ you can move that around so that evergreen piece of content isn’t getting lost.
EMILY: A lot of business owners think that all sounds great, but who is actually going to do this work? I think every business owner has a different level of comfort with social media, not to mention the other hats they wear as the business owner. How does a business owner know when it’s time to hire someone for social media management, or when it’s time to pass the social off to a team member?
LARA: It depends. Depending on every business situation, maybe you are the best person for the job. You really enjoy it. You’re the best person to speak on the brand. You are the one coming off more authentic and it’s something you enjoy.
Now, if you don’t enjoy it, there’s a lot of different ways that you can tap your employees. If you do have employees, everybody normally has their phone pretty close to them. So ask your employees, ‘hey, take photos, take videos.’ Do things like, maybe if you’re having a down 15, 30 minutes and there’s nobody in the shop, ask them to start filming content.
As we’ve talked about and we will continue to talk about, video is key right now. And so every 3, 4, 5, 6, 7 clip of you making a cup of coffee, opening your business in the morning, closing your business at night—anything like that, that’s something that your employees can help you do. Definitely understand that everything on social media, a business owner might want to see before.
So it could be like, ‘Hey, every week, can you get this to me by Friday?’ Two pieces of content that you would want to post and maybe some ideas of what you would say as a caption. That could be really helpful for you because your employees can definitely help lead how your brand is seen on social media and portray how the business is being handled and what the employees are experiencing and maybe what the customers are experiencing and maybe also what they’d want to engage with on social.
EMILY: Let’s put this into perspective for those business owners who might be intimidated by the idea of producing videos every single day. Not every owner is going to be comfortable on camera or even know how to create a video or reel. How can amateur videographers—meaning most small business owners—get good at content creation?
LARA: With so many different changes in the social landscape, video has been around for the past few years but is really proving to be essential for any social media strategy. And it can be daunting. So it’s definitely something for business owners to start thinking about how they started their business.
You just have to start doing it. Every day, try and take a couple 15 second videos of something going on, and it doesn’t even have to be about your business. Maybe it’s your dog or you making food or you going on a walk, but just getting comfortable with taking video is really important.
Also making sure that you know that everybody is probably feeling the same way you are, other than some of the big creators. Everybody’s learning how to do videos, do editing, what’s working, what’s not. There’s a lot of great apps that you can use, free apps. I heavily use InShot, which is a free app that you could use to edit videos together, put different transitions in it, add music, or add text overlay.
And the more you do it, the more comfortable you feel, but you really have to start doing it. As I’ve recently moved into this social media manager position on the consumer side, I am heavily focused on the Yelp Instagram and the Yelp TikTok, which we are transitioning to for sure on TikTok, but on Instagram more of a video strategy.
And that means that everybody on deck is having to help with video. And that’s something that while I do have experience with it, it’s every day, every time I’m on a trip, every time I’m in a restaurant, everything, every activity I’m doing, I need to remind myself, ‘Take a quick video.’ If I take the video, I can always edit it later.
I don’t want to look back after I come back from somewhere and be like, ‘Oh, I didn’t get any video content’ because you can’t go back and do it. So just do it every time, get more comfortable with it.
EMILY: If you’re one of those camera-shy business owners, take a look at your team and make them the talent. It’s what we occasionally do at Yelp. I was in a Yelp commercial a couple of years ago. So the big companies do it, the small businesses do it.
What content have you seen out there that has gone really well, and how can businesses incorporate their team members into their video content?
LARA: So there’s lots of great ideas that you could start with to start incorporating video into your social strategy. A few are easiest, showing behind the scenes of your business.
It doesn’t have to be really behind the scenes, something that’s happening behind a kitchen door, but you are talking to people online. So there are some people that might be following you that unfortunately may never visit your business. They might patronize it online, but they don’t know what the inside of your business looks like. They don’t know what your storefront looks like. They don’t know all the fun things that you have going on, the artwork that you have on the wall, etc. Just doing easy, quick things like that. That’s also a great way that you can tap your employees to help if somebody is getting featured.
If you do an employee of the week or employee of the month, have them talk about what they love or talk about what their favorite drink is or a special menu item that people should try. Additionally, there are different things like a day in the life. Again, some people may never get to come meet you in person or so your business. So do a day in the life. Show little clips of you opening up the business for the first time in the morning, grabbing your coffee, opening all the shades. If you’re a bakery, maybe it’s hot things coming out of the oven.
Also it’s a great way to show if you have different positions and your different employees that you could highlight. If you have someone who is really good at latte art, make sure that you do a feature on them. It’s a great way to be able to highlight different employees.
So another great idea for social video is letting people know if you’re hosting events. It could even be an elite event, or if you have a sale going on, or if you’re going to be out in the communities such as a farmer’s market or something else. Being able to show different people what you have going on in your life, people will really want to engage with.
EMILY: Of course, we can’t overlook reviews and how to use them effectively to build and market your business. We’ve talked a lot on this podcast about the many ways to use a great review for marketing, but never addressed how to use them on social media or in video. It seems like it might be impossible to take something written online and make it engaging social media content.
A lot of businesses miss the opportunity of incorporating their reviews into social media, simply because they don’t know how to do it. What have you seen work well Lara?
LARA: Especially at Yelp, we always talk about how reviews are a great competitive advantage and great marketing for any type of business. So it’s really about the engagement factor of additionally maybe spending a few minutes a day, taking video. Take five, 10 minutes a day, to see what you’re tagged in on Instagram.
Engage. Reshare. Comment. Some of those might be reviews that people have left you and talking about how great their experience was with your business. It’s always free to ask if you can share their feedback on their Instagram, on your Instagram page, or if you want to even put it into a video.
If the review talked about somebody specific, your business does a Yelp reviews reading and then you pan over to the employee who was talking about and ask them how they feel, or just have a spotlight on them and have some stars rolling around. It’s a great way to be able to shout out your employees and also show your potential customers what experience they could be getting.