The online review and social media site Yelp is a dynamo when it comes to driving (or driving away) clients.  Yelpers can post reviews for businesses ranging from ice cream parlors to—you guessed it—law firms, eventually earning that organization an online reputation as a go-to spot or a destination to avoid at all costs.

Much of the business driven by Yelp profiles is local, which can hugely benefit your firm by developing a community following and establishing your brand name within the market.  These benefits all start with responding correctly to reviews and accruing an overall positive reputation when marketing your law firm on Yelp.  When interacting with prospects and clients on your law firm’s Yelp page, be sure to follow these best practices.

1.       Be personable.

While it’s fitting to take a formal tone on LinkedIn, Yelp is a more casual forum.  Don’t hesitate to convey a more personal message when responding to positive or negative reviews.  For instance, feel free to use the person’s first name and lean toward a softer tone, thanking that person for taking the time to leave a review and expressing your excitement/regret that the reviewer had a positive/negative experience.

2.       Jump into problem resolution mode.

With the good reviews also come the bad—they are an inherent part of marketing your law firm on Yelp.  Prospects and clients may take to your law firm’s social media pages to express their frustrations or expand upon negative experiences, and it’s important to address their concerns as soon as possible.

Yelp business pages allow organizations to respond to Yelp reviews publicly or privately.  Depending on the situation and the level of anger in the review, it may be best to first respond publicly to thank the reviewer for leaving feedback and apologize that he or she experienced a negative encounter (as explained above).  Then, explain that your firm will be reaching out privately to discuss the situation further and determine whether you can reach a resolution.

When drafting a private message, approach it as an opportunity to reverse their experience.  Suggest one or two ways to repair the situation such as a refund or a one-on-one discussion with a high-level case manager or attorney.  Sometimes, moody Yelpers simply want their complaints heard and that is enough to mollify them.  If the Yelper no longer wants anything to do with your law firm, it’s best to apologize once again and go your separate ways.

3.       Create raving fans.

When marketing your law firm on social media, respond to positive reviews in the same vein as negative ones—think ‘What can I do to make their experience better so they become a raving fan of the brand?’  After thanking a satisfied Yelper for their kind words, extend an offer to take advantage of like 5% off their next case or a $50 referral bonus if they refer a client to your firm within six months.  Also, your response provides a perfect opportunity to mention that they can follow your law firm’s blog for free legal information and provide the link to sign up.

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