Local Guides currently represent a community of some 120 million Internet users, but what purpose do they serve? How do you get to be one? And what impact does the programme have on businesses?
#1 What is a Local Guide?
Google launched the Local Guide programme in 2015 in an effort to continually expand its service offering, the idea being to attribute a certain status to all Internet users who have submitted at least one review, score or photo or have suggested a modification to a Google My Business page. This serves two purposes where Google is concerned, the first of these being to help improve Google My Business listings with high-quality content that is relatively recent and above all reflects the reality, since this information is submitted by consumers and not by the business itself. The second purpose it serves is to create a community just like any other social network.
#2 The gamification of Google
Google decided to try and market this new function as a game to encourage Internet users to submit more and more content. There are 10 Local Guide levels, and in order to move up a level you have to earn points, which you get simply by posting reviews, adding photos or videos, adding new places and so on. There are 9 different ways to earn points, as shown in the screenshot below. Adding a place, for example, will earn you 15 points, leaving a review will earn you 10 and simply awarding a score will only earn you 1. Level 1 is reached by completing a single action. Earn 15 points to reach level 2. Earn 100,000 points to reach level 10, etc.
#3 What are the benefits of moving up through the Local Guide levels?
Internet users can earn their first badge as of level 4. These badges make your posts more visible.
They will also get to enjoy certain privileges such as early access to new Google features and exclusive partner offers.
Google also organises the annual Local Guides Connect event, which brings together 200 local guides who have reached higher than level 5 from various different countries.
#4 What are the challenges where companies are concerned?
When Local Guides earn a badge, their reviews become more visible. As far as companies are concerned, then, it is important to respond to reviews left by these Internet users to avoid having a bad review that has gone unanswered displayed at the top of their Google My Business listing.
Last but not least, being a Local Guide gives you the exclusive right to answer questions asked by users on Google My Business listings using Google’s new Q&A function, so these people can provide online information about your business and help you answer questions from potential customers. For the purposes of nurturing your online reputation, it can be worth having a Local Guide within your company to be able to answer all the questions your consumers ask.