Google has recently implemented Google Local Guides to help boost interaction between customers and businesses, offering incentives for people who upload pictures, write reviews, answer questions — it’s about creating guides to promote available and accurate information for companies. Each upload gets points that will increase “levels” as a guide and lead to monetary rewards, like movie tickets.
The program is available to anyone with a Google account and access to the Google Maps app, making it an important feature that will transform the landscape of reviews.
Lots of consumers and businesses alike are not happy with the concept. Simultaneously, it’s a model that people will rely on, under certain circumstances, for their brand image. Therefore, Local Guides may challenge the current state of online reviews.
How Do Local Guides Work?
Initially, Google created this system to build a community of people who encourage providing more information in hopes of helping both businesses and customers alike acquire valuable information about companies and to help make decisions.
The program rewards each account for an action being taken. It can be several actions; whether leaving a photo or suggesting an edit, there’s a list of tasks that can be rewarded, similar to other programs that offer badges or points.
While the model works in some circumstances, when it comes to getting more positive Google reviews, businesses and consumers need authenticity and no outside influence to help make their decisions.
But there are deep concerns about this system. Here are a few issues that people have pointed out.
It Illegitimizes Reviews
One of the biggest concerns with this model is how Google reviews will be perceived. If people know that reviews can be incentivized, the credibility of them lowers. People can only trust reviews or ratings if there’s no bias through incentives.
As a member commented, “The idea is awesome, but the implementation has destroyed the value of the program. I get why they gamified things; it keeps people interested and active. But it ended up ruining the integrity of the contributions.” There are obvious pros and cons to the program. On the one hand, you can argue that it creates a long engagement with customers but will it benefit customers and businesses long term? Probably not. Eventually, the fad will fade anyway, and people will second guess reviews and most likely turn to more credible resources for online reviews.
Another argument made against Google’s Local Guides is that it will encourage scammers to create several accounts and boost points on Google’s program with lots of action from different versions.
Since there are monetary value and prizes for increasing your “level” as a local guide, it will push people to do it solely to get something out of it, not help businesses. This will hurt the intentions and ruin the competitive playing field.
Plus, businesses could pay people to make these accounts and continue to engage, helping boost their Google business profile.
It Goes Against Google’s Policy
There are several concerns with Google Local Guides One of the main criticisms is it goes somewhat against Google’s policies against incentives for businesses. Based on the structure of this program, it provides incentives for those using their system. Since Google dominates the search engine world, this incentivized program benefits Google over its competitors and gives themselves leverage.
People feel it’s hypocritical for Google to create this program while maintaining strict regulations about incentivizing reviews. You can see Google’s incentivized review policy here.
There’s still lots of other criticism being made about the program. Many businesses and consumers alike do not feel Google Local Guide is important to the online reputation landscape. Only time will tell its true place.
Importance of Automation Software
Online reputation management is critical in today’s world where a majority of business is conducted on the Internet. On Google, Facebook, or other review sites, it’s vital to respond to positive reviews and negative reviews quickly and have a plan in place.
With ReviewInc’s reputation management software, businesses can have a team overseeing their online reputation and all reviews left. This allows our team to respond quickly and appropriately.
To learn more about ReviewInc’s Review Flow, request a demo here. Manage the positive reviews and negative reviews to manage all review platforms to help boost business visibility.