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Back in December 2020, the Explore tab in the Google Maps app was updated with an all-new community feed that’s driven by local content.
This is great for customers, but also presents a fantastic opportunity for local businesses. Here we want to share with you how to capitalise on this exciting new update, and use it to connect with more customers in your local community.
In a nutshell, the new community feed offers users an easier and quicker way to find out more about businesses in their local area. All they have to do is swipe up in the Explore tab, and they’ll see recent updates from local reviewers, businesses and publishers, even those they don’t follow or didn’t previously know about.
When a user’s location on Google Maps changes, the feed automatically updates, which makes it ideal for discovering new local businesses and recommendations on the go.
The feed features a wide range of content, such as:
Essentially, anything posted by local accounts in a specific area could appear on the feed when a user is in that area on Google Maps. Simple!
We think this recent update offers a fantastic opportunity for local businesses to connect with and generate new customers.
Why? Well, Google estimates that posts from businesses are now twice as likely to be seen by users than before the feed existed. This means your Google Business posts could now have double the audience; potentially doubling the number of new customers.
The Explore tab also makes it easier for businesses to identify and interact with local reviewers in the area, and vice versa. This opens up opportunities for savvy local businesses to expand their reach even further by partnering with popular reviewers and local guides.
Users can follow accounts, like and comment on posts, and discover local profiles they haven’t previously interacted with — all in one place. It’s like a mini social network between local businesses and the wider community.
Like all social networks, there are ways to make the new community feed work
If you want to be featured in the community feed, you’ve got to post content regularly. Start treating your Google Business profile like any other social media page — not just a business listing.
Google has put business accounts at the heart of the Explore feed, so now’s the perfect time to start taking yours seriously and factoring it into your broader marketing strategy.
It’s all well and good maintaining an active Google Business account, but to actually benefit from the community feed, you’ve got to make sure your posts are engaging and specifically targeted to local customers.
Anything you think local residents (and tourists) might enjoy about your business, talk about it on your Google Business profile. You could even post up exclusive offers for the local community. That’s sure to generate some interest on the feed!
The community feed is fully interactive; you can comment on posts, like them, and follow accounts that appear on it. Use this to your advantage, and create new relationships with local businesses, customers, and reviewers.
Engagement leads to better conversion. Remember that, and dedicate a few minutes a day to actively engaging with users on the community feed. Building your following and reputation in this way will pay dividends in the future.
Take a look at the community feed and you’ll notice that it’s filled with reviews from local guides and reviewers. You might even notice a few ‘serial reviewers’ that are particularly prolific in your community. Take a note of these, and invite them to your business — a review from them could be worth its weight in gold!
As well as reaching out to existing local guides, you should also try to encourage your own customers to leave a review on Google. They’ve already visited your business, so getting them to leave a review will be far easier than reaching out to yet-to-be customers.
The best way to encourage reviews is to make the process as easy as possible. Believe it or not, texting customers a direct link to your review page is one of the most successful strategies.
We’ve got a hunch that the Explore tab’s community feed is only just getting started. It’s the first iteration of something that Google will no doubt build upon in the near future.
It’s more than possible that the feed might start prioritising video content sometime soon. More than 70% of customers prefer to learn about a business by watching a video and Google is already acutely aware of this.
After the huge acceleration of mobile ordering in 2020, we also wouldn’t be surprised to see the Explore tab give customers a direct way to make table reservations, request samples, and even make purchases straight from the feed.
No matter what’s in store for the future, it’s best to get to grips with the community feed now to get the immediate benefits and be ready to jump aboard any exciting new developments further down the line.
So, what do you think about this new update? Did you already know about the community feed?
And, most excitingly, are you already scheming up plans to make the most of these new features in 2021?
Hop on over to our Twitter and tell us what you think!