- Google is rolling out social media features for Maps, allowing users to follow Local Guides.
- There will be informative profiles to highlight what each Guide likes to focus on.
- Google is also implementing privacy-minded features to allow users to set up who gets to see their names.
Google has decided to expand the experimental “follow Local Guides” system that they have been testing since last year, and now everyone is eligible to follow and be followed. This essentially turns Google Maps into a social network – or gives it that additional new social media aspect, if you prefer.
The rollout is taking place gradually, so it may take a while before you get to see the “Follow” button below the profiles of Local Guides, but you’ll eventually get it. As for your Local Guide profile and who is following you, there will be a dedicated page to check that out in detail.
Once a user clicks on the “follow” button, the Local Guide will get a request that needs to be approved or rejected. If approved, followers will receive notifications about new posts, recommendations on places, images uploaded about a location, etc.
This gives an incentive for Local Guides to get out, experience more, and post stuff, as they will now see their activity being reflected in a number of followers, feeling appreciated as sages of what’s hot, which restaurants serve the best food, which bars make the most amazing drinks, and which coffee shops have the most captivating atmosphere.
Users who follow Local Guides, on the other hand, will get to follow experts who they trust, learn about their new findings first, and get to know about the coolest new places that pop up in their city. To help people distinguish between Local Guides who post about things they’re interested in, there will be a rich “profile” page now, where a short bio or tagline, photos, and select reviews are displayed.
Of course, with every new set of features comes the risk of privacy exposure, so Google Maps users will be given the option to make their profile restricted or keep it open (to new followers), and also make personal details non-visible to businesses.
The actual reviews, the photos, the lists on the user profiles, and all of the rest will remain public, though, but hiding the user name if needed will be possible.
Google is building upon the popularity and utility of Maps, so if people embrace the new social media aspect of the platform, we may see the company enriching it with even more features.
Maybe in the future, users will be able to ask connoisseurs directly, exchange information in a chatbox, share their reviews on other platforms, and more.