Google Maps has made a small change to their platform that will have an impact on the power of Google Reviews.
For most businesses, this change will be good news. But, for businesses who offer bad service, this could be news that don’t want to hear.
In a recent announcement, Google have enabled users to ‘follow’ Local Guides and other users who upload content to Google Maps.
“Last year we announced a Google Maps pilot feature that allowed people to follow select Local Guides, the everyday people who are passionate about sharing their experiences on Google Maps. It was exciting to see many of the Local Guides we invited in our initial pilot opt in and participate. Equally exciting was the interest we saw from many Google Maps users who began following top Local Guides to receive helpful recommendations about the places around them” — Amanda Leicht Moore — Group Product Manager, Google Maps.
This means that Google Map users can now follow the Google Map Reviews of other users in Google Maps.
What is a Google Map Local Guide?
Basically a Google Map Local Guide is a person who contributes content to Google Maps. Local Guides upload Google Reviews, photos, videos and edits to locations on maps. Anyone can become a Local Guide — log into your Google Map account and click on ‘Your Contributions.’
Google Map Local Guides are power-users of the platform. And the more they contribute, the more influential their content can become. For example, over the years, my contributions to Google Maps have pushed me to the status of a ‘Level 9 Local Guide’ with approximately 55,000 points — I’ll hit the maximum rating of 10 when I gather 100,000 points.
The ability to now ‘follow’ contributions made by Local Guides means that Google Maps will become a powerful tool for some credible Google Reviewers.
In the same way that restaurant reviewers in newspapers and magazines would attract a lot of customers to businesses, this new ‘Follower’ tool on Google Maps will also greatly influence how some people spend their money. Or not.
For example, you can ‘follow’ me on Google Maps here. Or, a Level 9 Local Guide that I stumbled across on Google Maps this week, is Wollongong Catholic priest Father Richard Healey — he can be followed here on Google Maps.
The ‘Follower’ tool has been a staple on social media since the day that Twitter started on 2006. Since then, other social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat and TikTok have added ‘Followers’ tabs to all of their accounts. So, it seems only natural that Google Maps would also add a ‘Follower’ function to their platform.
The ‘follower’ function on your Google Maps is set to ‘private’ as a default — but this can be changed — it means that people with private Google Map accounts, will need to approve who follows their accounts.
To super-charge the ‘follower’ experience, a Google Map Local Guide can also use their Google Maps Lists to send their ‘Followers’ to their favourite places. For example, I’ve created a list on my Google Map account that showcases great places to watch sunrises — click here.
The new ‘Follower’ tab on Google Maps will also be good for people who have niche interests. For example, a person who is part of a local football club may post reviews of each ground that they play at — and people in that club can, in future, follow how to best navigate the facility when they arrive.
If you’re a boss wanting to know more about how to tackle Google Reviews posted about your business, I’ve uploaded Google’s suggested tips here.
In an upcoming post here on Medium, I’ll upload some tips on what content is best to post to Google Maps.