Rebecca Whyte has posted more than 900 reviews on Yelp.
Sure, as Yelp’s Baton Rouge community manager, it’s part of her job. But she also just really believes in the site’s power.
As the local face of the review site, Whyte plans events like fitness fairs and restaurant tastings. She networks with business owners, teaching them how to access free tools like check-in offers and unlimited photo gallery uploads. She communicates with Yelp Elites, the tastemakers most engaged with the site.
But before we go too far, Whyte wants to clear up some misconceptions. No, she does not sell ads for Yelp. Yes, the site is a resource for more than just food—you can use it to search for spas, salons, gyms, shops and more. No, she doesn’t decide who gets named an Elite; that’s up to the site’s council members. But perhaps the biggest misconception she wants to clear up? The idea that Yelp does companies more harm than good.
“Bottom line: We are a directory page. You can go on Yelp and search for Vietnamese food within several miles of you, and you’ll see all the Vietnamese places,” the 39-year-old says. “I’ve discovered so many smaller businesses I never would’ve seen before.”
A San Francisco native, Whyte is petite but bursting with bubbly energy for Baton Rouge and her role in helping it grow.
“I’m seeing chefs make names for themselves here, seeing the Food Network come here to film TV shows,” she says. “It’s hard to compete with New Orleans sometimes, but I feel like this city has its own personality.”
“When I did my first big event, a food-themed fest at the Varsity in 2015, it was a turning point in the job. Like, ‘Oh, wow. Yelp does stuff here in the Baton Rouge community.’ It was an opportunity for me to show what it is we do to support local business owners. That we’re not just the company that’s based in San Francisco, we actually are a living breathing community here represented by a human being, not just a computer. But I also don’t want people to look at me and think, ‘That Yelp girl, Rebecca, she does everything for the site.’ Yelp Elites are doing so much to help the community and business owners by posting reviews—and sometimes they don’t even realize that they’re doing it.”
Quotes have been edited for length and clarity.
This article was originally published in the February 2018 issue of 225 Magazine.