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Google Brings Local Business Follow Button to Maps for the iPhone

Last October, Google introduced a Follow button on local business profiles in Google Maps for Android. Users who follow the business receive “updates and offers” (Google Posts) from that business. The business also can see the user’s public profile information,though users can follow privately too.

Any Posts or updates are delivered to users in the “For You” area of Google Maps. Interestingly, the Follow button has not been extended to non-Maps GMB profiles (i.e., discovered through traditional search). And now the Follow button is being introduced into Maps for iOS.

Google Maps follow button

The recently re-launched GMB app lets business owners see and communicate with followers. The app has a range of other capabilities as well.

These and other moves are part of Google’s broader engagement strategy for GMB. Reserve with Google is a part of that as are Posts and Q&A.

As I argued before, it’s not far from this scenario to selective communication to groups of customers based on things like purchase or visitation history or lapsed visitation — CRM like features. Google already has considerable data on business visitation based on mobile-location history. It could offer business owners anonymous audience segments based on frequency/engagment patterns, sort of like Square does with its email marketing product.

There are people who assert Google is challenging Facebook with the Follow button. I think the company is less focused on duplicating Facebook features than it is pursuing its own course with GMB, which now has many millions of verified listings.

At LSA19 we’ll hear commentary directly from Google’s Curtis Galloway about what the new GMB app seeks to accomplish and what problems it’s trying to solve. There are multiple other sessions directly or indirectly discussing GMB at the event: 

  • 7 Google My Business Problems & How to Solve Them
  • Getting the Most out of Google Posts & Local Content
  • Getting the Most out of the GMB API
  • Google My Business: Critical Features & Future Direction

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