Thoughts & Ideas

November 19, 2015

Local Guides – Google’s gamification strategy to crowd source Maps Data

google-local-guidesConsumer reviews and ratings continue to grow in importance on the web and may be the single most powerful motivating factor in customer decision-making.  With this fact in mind, Google has recently come up with a new incentive program designed to increase the number of quality reviews on Google Maps.  This new program is called the “Local Guide” system.

Local Guides stems from several attempts by Google to compete with Yelp.  Just a couple of years ago they tried to build a reviews system similar to the Yelp Elite Squad, called City Experts.  It was hoped this would quicken the procurement of quality reviews.  This project was renamed earlier this year to “Local Guides”.  With this newest consumer review program, Google hopes to become dominant in the review arena, competing with such sites as Yelp, Trip Advisor and Facebook.

Local Guides has been crafted by Google to emulate the perks offered by Yelp Elite, but there are differences.

Yelp Elite:

With the Yelp Elite program users receive a sparkly badge, attend very exclusive events, meet other Yelpers in person and discover a variety of local businesses they may not have previously tried.

Google “Local Guides”:

“Local Guides is a global community of explorers sharing their discoveries on Google Maps. Help others find the best spots in town, make new friends, and unlock exclusive benefits along the way.”

“As a Local Guide, you’ll help others explore the world and get great benefits in return.  It’s a win-win.  Every place you improve on Google Maps earns you points toward unlocking something new.”

As a Local guide you earn points, which can then translate into various benefits.

The Five Ways to Earn Points:

  1. Upload Photos
  2. Share Reviews
  3. Add New Places
  4. Fix Information
  5. Answer Questions

Each of these activities earns 1 point.

The Five Levels of Local Guides

Benefits as a local guide are accrued based on your level of contribution.  Check out Level 4.  Here local guides receive an exciting upgrade to 1TB of cloud storage that usually costs $9.99.

Level 1 (0+ Points)

Get the inside scoop with the Local Guides monthly newsletter.
Join Google-hosted workshops and Hangouts.
In select countries, enter in exclusive contests for Local Guides.

Level 2 (5+ Points)

Get early access to new Google products and features.
Promote your own meet-ups on the Local Guides calendar.

Level 3 (50+ Points)

Get noticed with your Local Guides badge in Google Maps.
Connect with other Local Guides in our exclusive Google+ Community.
Lead the conversation by moderating Local Guides community channels.
Receive invites to Google-hosted events in select cities.

Level 4  (200+ Points)

Upgrade your Google Drive storage free.
Be eligible to be featured in Local Guides online channels.
Receive an annual thank you gift.

Level 5 (500 + Points)

Be a Google insider, testing new products before public release.
Apply to attend our Level 5 Local Guides summit.

If Google’s Local Guides program does what they hope, it should significantly increase the usefulness of Google maps and offer a unique opportunity for local sharing.  But will it be able to compete with Yelp and other rivals like Facebook and Trip Advisor?  Give it time and we will see if Google Guides fares better than previous attempts.