Yelp was foundeyelp statsd in 2004 to connect people with great local businesses. It’s a social community where people can share experiences and review businesses that they frequent.

With the growth in consumers that frequent Yelp to make buying decisions, it’s becoming ever more important for businesses to take advantage of it.

Hazel Quimpo, the Yelp Community Manager in Orange County (Yelp now has Community Managers in more than 40 cities), believes “it only makes sense to put your best foot forward as a business owner and to unlock your free business owner’s account. walks you through all the steps and gets you started in just a few minutes.”

An example of a business that’s taking full advantage is Julie Lim of OC Wine Mart. Julie filled in a lot of information about her business including hours, announcements, photos, etc., and she consistently responds to reviewers. In just over a year, Julie has garnered over 40 reviews, providing potential consumers unique incite from others on OC Wine Mart and what is has to offer. She’s also able to post special offers and other “exclusive” information people may have not sought out elsewhere.

Yelp has become an integral part of many peoples’ buying decisions. “No matter what I’m doing, whether I’m looking hotels, restaurants, bars, I always use Yelp as a resource,” said Candice Cendana, a Yelper in Orange County. “Even more than Google. It’s always right: If it says a hotel or restaurant is good, it’s always right.”

Yelp also hosts special events, like “Yelp Drinks OC“, where a series of venues are offering major drink specials to those who visit and mention Yelp. This is effective in that it doesn’t cost the restaurants themselves much, but it gets a lot of people in the door to try new places. Are you a business or consumer that uses Yelp? Share your story!