Yelp is introducing a new home feed experience, consisting of a vertical feed of visual content from local restaurants, for its mobile app, the company announced Tuesday. The Instagram-like feature is now rolling out to iOS users in nearly 150 metropolitan areas across the United States.
What content appears in the feed? Photos of Popular Dishes, which are determined by Yelp’s machine learning systems based on user-submitted photos and reviews, and Yelp Connect posts can appear in the new home feed.
When a user taps on a Popular Dish in the home feed, they’re redirected to more photos and reviews mentioning the dish. Photos can also be images of a restaurant’s interior or exterior; when a user taps on one of those images, they’re shown more details about the photo on the business page.
Subscribers of Yelp’s paid Connect feature will also gain more visibility in the new home feed. Connect posts are distinguished by the “Sponsored” label shown above. When users tap on a Connect post, they’ll be presented with an option to view the business’s Yelp page or share the post.
Bringing social media features into Yelp. Yelp is also adding a heart icon to all home feed content, according to Phillip Zukin, group product manager of consumer product at Yelp. “That said, businesses are only notified that their content is resonating with potential customers when a consumer taps the heart icon on a Connect post,” he added. Users are not currently shown how many “hearts” a post has received.
Personalization for users. Home feed content is personalized to users based on various factors, including their physical proximity to the business, the popularity of a dish in reviews and the recency of the content.
Why we care. This social media-inspired UI tweak may make discovering new businesses easier for users on Yelp’s iOS app. This visual format is a sharp contrast to its main competitor, Google Maps, which may help Yelp attract users that are looking to be served recommendations as opposed to searching a map interface for the right place to eat. And, as with any interface change, how users behave within the app is likely to adapt, which may mean increased engagement for businesses if the new home feed is well received.
The new home feed also provides more visibility for businesses using Yelp Connect, which may raise the utility of the service for some subscribers. “Our initial testing showed that this new experience may help increase consumer engagement with businesses’ Connect posts by as much as 30%,” Yelp said in the announcement.
Yelp also has plans to roll out the new home feed experience to Android users as well, but did not provide a timeline for the release.