Evelyn Wiseman is the Community Manager to Toronto’s chapter of the ever-useful review website, Yelp.ca. If you can dream it, you can probably review/read about it! Whether Evelyn is putting together a super fun event or taking video calls from Yelp’s San Francisco headquarters, she is always the friendly face (and profile) welcoming newcomers to this robust (almost 5 years old!) online community. Based in Toronto, Evelyn enjoys onesies, crafting, and shouting local business’ praises from the online rooftops.
SDTC: How would you explain Yelp.ca to someone who has never heard or used it before?
Evelyn Wiseman: Yelp is a website and an app that connects people with great local businesses. You can go there to review or you can go there to read. If you get really involved, we have an Elite Squad, which means you get connected to even more local businesses through the events that we throw. It’s really like a party online and off. A review site, obviously, but it is a positive place. In general, 80% of the reviews are three stars or higher so it’s about connecting people with the best local businesses within their community. It’s also a great app for finding things, which is really helpful for when you travel. That’s how most people get turned on to it. Originally, my friends were reviewing, but when they got the app and went to a different city they thought, “This is the shit. This is so clever”.
SDTC: How did you get involved with Yelp?
EW: First, I used the site. I wasn’t a super prolific user but I did use the app a lot and I reviewed regularly. I was on the Elite Squad when I applied for the Community Manager job, but I hadn’t been around very long. I may have been new but I fell in love. When the job became available, I basically hounded it from every angle until they realized that they had to hire me.
SDTC: What were you methods for hounding the job?
EW: I reached out to anyone I knew that was involved in Yelp, or was a former Community Manager. After every interview there were “thank you” emails and muffin baskets… there weren’t really muffin baskets (laughs), but I was prepared and I was taking the extra time that you take when you really want a certain job. Taking a lot more time writing that cover letter.
SDTC: Did you do any related schooling?
EW: No, I have a degree in theatre and political science. I started a Masters in communications but I never completed it. But though my degree in theatre, I ended up producing and doing communications for theatre. From there, I transitioned over to Movember doing communications work. From that position, I grew my chops in community and communications.
SDTC: What is a typical day for you on the job?
EW: I’m not a morning person, so I sleep in until about 9 and then I start my day with my online community tasks. Social media, using Yelp itself, seeing what was written about in Toronto, writing reviews and being a part of the community. Then I tend to do a lot of work with business owners by helping them unlock their free business owner page and tools. I just let them know what help is available and how Yelp is such a positive force to connect their business with a growing community and with Toronto at large. I write the Weekly Yelp, which is a really fun tip sheet that goes out every week. You do the best five of something—anything from gin cocktails, to poutine, to beaches. There’s often an Elite Event or some sort of Yelp event in the evening. It is a long, very fun day.
SDTC: What is the preparation before an Elite Event?
EW: An Elite Event is two hours to celebrate a local business with the Yelp community that writes the most on the site. We do about one or two a month and it’s just two fun hours of eating and drinking. Usually, I work with newer restaurants or venues. We solidify the date and the time. We choose a theme, which is always a really fun part. And from there, we do so many weird little things. Sometimes I am buying ice buckets; sometimes I am decorating sailor hats. Often the restaurants will handle the food and I find brand-appropriate booze sponsors, because at the events there are unlimited free specialty drinks. There is also hiring of a professional photographer who helps people get their new profile pictures.
It’s like planning any party, but it’s the open parties that I get to have a lot of fun with. Bringing in choirs, or Uber is giving away free rides, different food vendors coming in and more alcohol sponsors. Those big events take a little more planning but they are also, I think, more fun to plan because I like all the moving parts of a successful event.
SDTC: What is your go-to work attire?
EW: I have the luxury of working from home. So, when it’s not an event day or a day when I’m out in the world doing things where people have to see me… this winter, I have amassed a collection of onesies. I wear them often at home but I wont even do a video call in them. That being said, most of the time I’m a jeans and blouse and cowboy boots kind of girl.
SDTC: What advice would you give to someone who wanted a job like yours?
EW: Figure out how to harness your energy. Caffeine? Getting a lot of sleep? Whatever it is. Many of the best community managers I know are just really tireless people with boundless energy. If that’s you, then figure out how to harness that energy. Creativity helps, and so does just working really hard. And if that’s not you—if long days and weird schedules and onesie collections don’t sound great to you—then maybe think of something a little bit different.
SDTC: What’s a big lesson that you have learnt along the way to your current position?
EW: Don’t sweat. If something wasn’t working or isn’t working, you have to let it go and you can’t fixate on it. You just have to keep moving forward by staying positive. Don’t stumble over what’s behind you.
SDTC: What is your favourite part of the job?
EW: Honestly, I think it is both working with business owners and when I’ve successfully done an Elite Event or connected people to a great local business. Or it is getting a thank-you for a business being included in the Weekly Yelp, when I only really included them because they are doing such a good job. It is just about bringing attention to all the amazing local businesses we have in Toronto. It is just great to see the little guys become successful and Yelp has proven to be a forum to do that. And showing off the businesses to such a great community of people? It means a lot to me.
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