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A New Era for the FLB

January 27, 2015

I first started writing about food on Chowhound about a million years ago, when it was all just message boards. Then I discovered Yelp, and prefered how this new platform aggregated people’s experiences into a starred rating system.

My most prolific Yelping spell to date was in those first few years after moving to Albany when I was desperately searching for something resembling good food. I was kissing a lot of frogs, and I wanted to make sure that those who came after me would have a clear path of places to try, and spots to avoid. It was through this writing that I began to establish a voice and a reputation.

Even in those early days, Yelp had a small but active community, and I met some of those writers in real life for drinks, trivia, and bowling. Through these new friends I learned about the Roxbury Farm CSA and a whole host of other gems. Yelp also played a role in the launch of the FLB.

“Hey Profussor! What gives with the history lesson?” Well, if you were paying attention to social media yesterday, you already know the answer.

Yelp Albany has its very first Community Ambassador. And it’s me.

I hate surprises. I hate secrets. I’m also big with confessions. So. I’ve known about this for some time, and it’s been killing me to not be able to share the news with the world. But before I could be announced, I had to be trained.

Hopefully you understand. Now, I’m ready to hit the ground running.

Some of you may be curious about the effect of this on the blog. I know a few individuals who aren’t so crazy about Yelp and may be questioning my decision. I’m sure there will be people who are incredibly excited about this news, who see this as a marriage made in heaven. But I’m equally sure there are some out there who will feel otherwise. Me? I feel incredibly honored, and am looking forward to this new adventure.

First things first. The FLB isn’t going anywhere.

Okay, so what’s a Community Ambassador? In its simplest terms, for better or for worse, I’m the public face of Yelp in the Capital Region. That means I’m here for business owners. I’m here for consumers. And I’m here to represent the mobile app and website I’ve used countless times all over the world to find great local businesses. Seriously, Yelp Paris is amazing, but you have to use it in French to get the inside scoop.

Different people take different approaches to the job. Some like to see themselves as the mayor of Yelp. Others can be like the sheriff. Certainly there are ambassadors who are more like cheerleaders. And all of those are fine.

I imagine that my tenure will be more professorial. But hopefully one of those fun professors, like the one I had for Russian history who would do vodka shots and stand up on tables.

So what exactly am I going to do?

Well what I’m not doing is selling anything. I’m not selling anything bought or processed. I’m not buying anything processed or sold. And and I’m not processing anything bought or sold. So, much like kickboxing, it’s kind of like the ideal job.

I am going to meet with business owners. I am. And I’m going to show them that Yelp isn’t evil. Which should be easy, because I’ve always held that to be true. We’re going to dispel myths and banish false perceptions. And with luck, I’ll even be able to get these business owners to use some of Yelp’s free tools to help them use the platform to their advantage.

Planning events and throwing parties is a big part of the job. And you are all invited. Seriously. Some of them will involve free things to eat and drink. Others, similarly to the FUSSYlittleTOURS, will have attendees paying their own way. But it will be made very clear which is which. I’ve also got a lot of free Yelp stuff to give away, and once I unload this shipment of stuff, another one will be on the way. I’m excited to have more chances to be a bit like Oprah and Ellen.

You may see me manning a Yelp table at local events as I try to raise awareness of the website and mobile app throughout the community. I’ll be on the lookout for event partners, so if you have any in mind, don’t be shy about passing them along.

Maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve been a lot more active on Yelp recently? That’s no accident, and that will continue. Part of the job is to be a model Yelper. I’m still going to be critical, but you may notice a slightly more ambassadorial tone. I suspect the rants about spoons are over and the speculation about the drunkenness of chefs will be left in the past. But you never know.

On top of all that, I’ll be working with Yelpers who want to gain Elite status and help them get those badges, writing the Weekly Yelp which is an e-newsletter that I’m super excited about, and making sure that Yelp Albany finally gets the long awaited Review of the Day feature. Of course there’s social media to go along with all of this. Please check out the spiff new Yelp Albany Twitter feed and Facebook page. Instagram and Pinterest are on my to do list.

Whew. It’s a lot, but I’m excited to be taking it on.

So those are the basics. Now, I’m serious about answering all your burning questions about this in addition to any concerns you have on the effects of this new role on the blog. As I’ve mentioned in the past, the integrity of the FLB is of utmost importance to me, and I am going to take pains to make sure to avoid even the appearance of impropriety.

Yes, you can expect to see things on the FLB about what I’m doing with Yelp in the future. But the blog is my thing. My opinions. My space. Yelp Albany will be its own thing. It is not a platform for me to push an agenda. It is an opportunity for me to support a community of writers that has been very important for me, and one that I think is very important for the region.

There will be more on that last bit in the days ahead. But in the meantime, there is work to do and a first Yelp Albany event to plan. You know I’ll keep you posted, because I’d love to see you at my coming out party.

15 Comments leave one →
  1. EPT permalink
    January 27, 2015 11:14 am

    So does this mean you have a real job now ;o))

  2. Hope Langston permalink
    January 27, 2015 11:37 am

    Sounds great!

  3. January 27, 2015 12:15 pm

    Say Anything quote. Respect.

    I suppose I should use Yelp for more than just checking into to places.

  4. Jack C permalink
    January 27, 2015 12:15 pm

    That’s great! I’m looking forward to more events!

  5. January 27, 2015 12:54 pm

    Congrats! I’m sure you’re going to thrive in this role.

  6. January 27, 2015 1:18 pm

    My biggest gripe with Yelp locally has been neglect from the mothership, causing toxic reviews and users to be far too visible while pushing down those who try hard to make a meaningful contribution. I am looking forward to seeing a change in all that. I had no idea that being a community ambassador involved so many duties and details. Have fun, and don’t forget to floss.

  7. January 27, 2015 1:54 pm

    Congratulations, Daniel! I’m a member of Yelp, but I’m motivated far too seldom to write a review… perhaps this news will change that. I’m looking forward to going to a Yelp event and seeing you there.

  8. Debra permalink
    January 27, 2015 2:32 pm

    Congratulations Daniel, happy to hear the wonderful news for you.

  9. January 28, 2015 10:33 pm

    Congrats to you! Excited to see what cool things will come out of this new venture. I love Yelp and I’m glad you’ll be manning the ship with Yelp Albany.
    P.S. Your Russian History teacher sounds fun.

  10. Norm @ Ridinkulous permalink
    January 29, 2015 8:33 pm

    Couldn’t have picked anyone better.

  11. January 30, 2015 3:27 pm

    I’m excited that there will be a weekly Yelp newsletter – I just moved back to the area from Buffalo, and I was so sad that Albany didn’t have a weekly Yelp to sign up for. I’m glad I didn’t have to wait long for that to happen!

  12. January 31, 2015 4:29 pm

    Congrats on the new gig! Can’t wait to see what this will bring locally. :)

  13. February 1, 2015 5:25 pm

    Mazel tov!

  14. February 4, 2015 6:48 pm

    Congratulations, Dan!!!

  15. Richard Lachmann permalink
    July 28, 2015 11:10 pm

    Congratulations Daniel!!! This will be great for Yelp and for anyone who uses Yelp for Albany.

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