Alphabet Inc. and Google have introduced new features within the iOS and Android Maps application that enables users to discover and engage with local businesses. The new Explore + For You tabs and the ability to follow businesses within the Maps application represents what Google+ could have been all along.
Google Maps becoming Social
Google Maps is becoming an invaluable tool for marketing and, increasingly, a better tool than social networks. Maps didn’t initially set out to become a social network. Its status as the dominant navigation app for mobile users is precisely due to its initial focus on being a utility, showing you where to go and how long it would take to get there. The Google Maps application is looking more like a social network with each update. This includes the recently released Explore and For You tabs, which currently highlight local restaurants and enable Maps users to refine their search for local establishments.
What are the new features?
This week, Google announced a new feature that enables the public to message businesses directly through the Maps app. The feature will appear as a new messages button, which will be rolled out gradually to iOS and Android app users.
Customers can use the messaging feature to order products, check if the product they are looking for is in stock, or ask other customer service-related questions. When users have a complaint, it can be handled directly and privately.
Google is adding another social feature to Maps: the ability for customers to “follow” business locations, the same as when you follow someone on Instagram or Twitter. This enables companies to update customers with offers, deals, events, and other information. The feature is appearing as a new Follow button on businesses’ listings in Maps.
Google Maps even now facilitates social sharing — but only the sharing of information about businesses. A new group-planning feature enables users to create lists of businesses they would like to visit, and also to share those lists with friends. They can then talk through the app to decide which businesses they would like to visit together.
Google Maps also offers opportunities no other social network does. For example, businesses can have the interior of their locations featured via the StreetView “Indoor Maps” program.
This feature will become increasingly valuable as Street View becomes a virtual reality experience.
If you liked reading about the new features for Google Maps, check out our last blog post about the new features and How to advertise on Pinterest.
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