You have to look at social media as a game. It’s like a child’s game of show and tell. In some instances, it can be childish, like Twitter or Instagram, where you can post a rant, or an enviable toy, and then not care about the comments. For a lot of people, it has become a hobby or a pastime.
Recently, I have been posting pictures on Google Maps. This has led to me writing short (200 character) reviews of places, as well as rating these same places. The activity dovetails with photography. I quit my Instagram a while back. Mainly because I don’t like to shoot with my cellphone. I usually have a camera in my bag, and the places I go to also conveniently have few customers while I’m there. I take out the camera, shoot a few pictures without the flash and that’s it. I usually do some post processing on the colors, and resize the picture before I post online.
That is, until I started posting the pictures on Google Maps. I have never tried posting on travel sites, or on location sites like Foursquare, Yelp and Travel Advisor. However, its something that any marketing person, SEO or social media professional should consider. Specially with Google Maps.
Since I never posted in other travel sites, I don’t know how they do things there. On Google, it’s like a game. Google has gamified the crowdsourcing of pictures and information. There are categories, badges and levels which are achieved by a points-based contribution system. You get to 10 points per review, with a bonus 10 points if the review is more than 200 characters; 1 point for a rating; 5 points per photo; 7 points per video; 1 point per Answer; 3 points when you respond to Q&A; 3 points per edit; 15 points for every place you add; and 1 point for every fact checked.
As a points system, there are 10 levels, and you reach them with increasing number of points. On top of that there are badges. Submit a set of activities and you get a badge, and there’s a more advanced badge after that.
The importance of this is that the system is within Google. Google is about authority. It implicitly asks if you are an authority figure. The only way to know if a person is an authority is if he can share information. To verify that information, it relies on other contributors. It has cloud sourced fact-checking. It has cloud sourced verification. It has also cloud sourced additional images as proof that a place exists. It has outsourced map updating, corrections and editing.
At some point, the results of this crowdsourcing activity will leak out and seep into the search results. It is hard to predict what Google will do, however, the verified information is already available and online to Maps users. Whenever you try to search for a place on Google Maps, there is additional information included in the search result. It can also help you to navigate to the place, either by walking, riding a public transpo or by riding a car.
If you have a business, it is highly recommended to put in the information yourself. It is also not a bad idea to post pictures on the map every once in a while. It wouldn’t hurt to have more pictures on the map. When you search your establishment, the information appears in a box on the right hand corner of the search, along with pictures of the place. As a contributor, the establishment owner will also see the number of views for each picture.