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Yelp Community Managers Share Their Best Tips for Black Shop Owners to Boost Business and Build Community Three Yelp Community Managers share community-building resources and advice for Black-owned businesses and their customers.

By Emily Washcovick

Key Takeaways

  • Yelp Community Managers are here to help. They connect local businesses with consumers by hosting events, featuring businesses on social media, and more.
  • Customers are eager to support Black-owned businesses during Black History Month and beyond, so promote your business year-round and when the media attention is strong.
  • Your story helps your business stand out. Share your background with customers and your Community Manager to help you leverage your unique attributes to grow your business.
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Courtesy of Yelp

Telling your story is one of the most powerful ways to uplift your small business. When you share a piece of your life experience with customers, you open the door to authentic connections that can grow into long-term business relationships.

Finding the right storytelling platform isn't always easy, but Yelp Community Managers are uniquely positioned to help. Stationed in regions across the country, Yelp employees like Erica Eubanks, B Busby, and Anitra Thomas serve as bridges between Yelp businesses and consumers, working with business owners in their local areas to launch events, social media promotions, and other opportunities for visibility.

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"For me, [the process] is: I know this really great business in this great area that might not get a lot of traffic to it. Let me start with bringing my own squad to this business," Anitra said. "If it was a fun find, those people tell their social circle. And then those folks tell their folks, and now all the folks know about this great local business they wouldn't have known about otherwise."

As members of the Black community, promoting Black- and other minority-owned businesses is a priority for Erica, B, and Anitra. They know it's important for business owners to have someone in their corner who looks like them and understands the unique struggles they face.

Community Managers often work with Black-owned businesses to capitalize on marketing opportunities during Black History Month and on Juneteenth. Using holidays as a hook, Black-owned businesses can pitch timely stories to the media and create specialized content for their social media pages.

If you aren't able to launch the initiative during the right day or month, Erica emphasizes to not let the idea go to waste. Supporting minority-owned businesses is a priority for many Yelp users, so don't be hesitant to champion yourself as a quality Black-owned business all year round.

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"Black History Month is 365 for us," she said. "We don't take this skin off when we go to bed, when we go to events, or when we're writing reviews."

This dedication means Community Managers are a valuable resource for Yelp consumers looking to support minority-owned businesses. While the Yelp website and mobile app make it easy to filter searches using identity attributes, like Black-owned, following your local Yelp social media page and keeping up with the Community blog can help you find even more local gems. Community Managers often hold—and post about—events in partnership with Black-owned businesses looking to gain more traction in neighborhoods where they are racially or culturally underrepresented.

During these events, Community Managers handle attracting and engaging customers so business owners can focus on what they do best: providing authentic and quality customer experiences.

The events are also a great way to network with your community. At one event, B recalled connecting a business owner who raised children with epilepsy with a clinic owner who works with epileptic patients. This interaction opened up an opportunity for the business owner to make custom macaroons for the patients and share her story with the clinic's community.

Hearing first-hand about this kind of impact is one of the most rewarding parts of the job. Community Managers are passionate about creating lasting connections and encourage business owners to connect with customers on a personal level whenever possible.

"You never know where that string is going to really connect and attach to somebody, and that's where we really create momentum [for businesses]," B added.

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To help businesses flourish in their communities, Erica always urges businesses to reach out to their local Community Manager, whether to host an event for Yelp Elites or score an Instagram feature on a Yelp-owned account. The Community team partners with entrepreneurs in a variety of areas, from restaurant owners to local artists, on initiatives that are entirely free to business owners. They've also taken the 15% pledge, dedicating at least 15% of their efforts to Black-owned businesses.

In addition to the importance of building a strong small business community, Erica, B, and Anitra believe in:

  • Championing Black-owned businesses all year long. Don't feel like you need to restrict identity-related marketing initiatives to Black History Month. Many Yelp consumers are eager to support minority-owned businesses whenever they can.
  • Having advocates you can see yourself in. Erica, B, and Anitra understand the opportunities and challenges that Black business owners have and are passionate about helping them navigate the small business landscape.
  • Using Yelp to make connections. Reading and responding to customer reviews can help businesses improve engagement, customer service, and loyalty. Plus, critical feedback can be a valuable tool to help owners refine business practices and products.

Listen to the episode below to hear directly from Erica, B, and Anitra, and subscribe to Behind the Review for more from new business owners and reviewers every Thursday.

Available on: Spotify, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, Pandora and Soundcloud.

Editorial contributions by Callie Morgan and Kristi Lindahl

Emily Washcovick

Small Business Expert at Yelp

As Yelp’s Small Business Expert, Emily is meticulously focused on helping local business owners succeed and grow. Her expertise lies in customer engagement, reputation management, and all things digital marketing. Through speaking engagements and thought leadership, Emily shares industry insights that entrepreneurs in any business category can leverage for the growth and well-being of their businesses. She is also the host of Behind the Review, a podcast from Yelp and Entrepreneur Media, where each episode features conversations with a business owner and a reviewer about the story and lessons behind their interactions.

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