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Google Maps Launches Social Features

New Community Feed Offers Free Reach For 2021

Over the past 24 months, Google has been quietly but steadily building out the feature set of Google Maps.

With its kick-ass mapping service evolving from a handy free route-finder to an effective marketing and communications channel for organisations large and small.

Following the release of its latest batch of updates, Google Maps should be expected to be top of mind in 2021, with its new community feed offering fresh exposure for content marketers looking to unlock local, or geo-specific audiences.

What’s The Google Community Feed?

The Google community feed is a scrollable feed that’s been added to the Explore tab within Google Maps.

Users who access the feed will be shown posts, reviews and photos added to Maps by businesses, local experts and people you follow.

Capella Yee, Product Manager, Google Maps

“We’re making it easier to find updates and recommendations from trusted local sources with a new community feed in the Explore tab of Google Maps.”

The community feed also show articles from a selected list of publishers, and it’s designed to be a place where users can come on a daily basis to found out more about what’s happening in their area.

A locally focused social network, if you like?

How Does The Feed Work?

Users will come to the feed to find recommendations and updates on a wide range of topics.

The feed can show when a restaurant has added a new item to the menu, or if a hiking trail is open, or if there are any good day trips available from your city.

Updates aren’t limited to your physical location. Users can pan and zoom the map to find updates from nearly anywhere in the world, while the feed is tailored to an individual’s specific interests.

For example, if you’ve marked an interest in Mexican food or eating healthy, you’ll be shown more recommendations and posts about those types of foods.

Capella Yee, Product Manager, Google Maps

“In early testing of the community feed, we saw that posts from merchants are seen two times more than before the feed existed.

So now more people can see if a local business is offering a new service, has a limited time speciality or opened outdoor seating.”

Another factor that businesses should consider is keeping their Google My Business listing fresh and packed with new information.

The more often a business publishes a post or adds new content to their profile, the more chance they’ll have of showing up in a community feed of a prospective customer.

The community feed is a potentially lucrative way for business to organically increase their reach within Google.

Alongside this, Google has launched a few other useful marketing features related to Maps.

  • Messaging from Maps and Search. Verified businesses can now message with customers directly from Maps or Search, which will make it easier for business and shoppers to interact.
  • New insights. Google has expanded their performance metrics. These will track how a business performs by showing the number of customer engagements from Maps and Search.
  • Street View updates. Google is running a pilot for street view that will allow people to contribute images to Street View from their phone.

Overlap With Google Local Guides

In 2019 Google Maps announced a pilot feature that let users follow selected Local Guides.

Google’s Local Guides program has more than 120 million members in 24,000 locations globally. They are a largely invisible but indispensable part of the Google Maps experience:

  • Providing reviews
  • Images and other content
  • Answering questions (Q&A) about local businesses and places

Savvy agencies and brands will eventually wake up to the opportunity Local Guides can offer, and begin factoring them into influencer marketing programs.  

Google Maps users can now follow other users and receive recommendations, updates and advice to the Updates tab in Google Maps.That means businesses who get recommended by Local Guides are more likely to be viewed within the Updates tab.

Hence the inevitable influencer crossover, at some point.

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