Will Reviews Become Google’s First Successful Foray into Social?

Small businesses are engaged (and often enraged) with reviews on their Google Places Pages. Understandably, the SMB posters at the Places Help forums have a great deal invested in their businesses and the reviews about their business. As a result they often respond with great passion about Google’s handling of them. The forums are rife with over the top pleas, cajolings and complaints about reviews on their Places Page.

Many SMBs don’t really like reviews. For many it is the first time they are accountable to outside forces over which they feel that they have no control but wish that they did. Historically they have responded to this tension by lashing out (sometimes justified and others not) at Google with their frustrations.

In my sales days, I was taught that objections were in fact buying signals. Complaints by SMBs about reviews seem to fall into that category and to me indicate that they are ready to actively engage with Google’s new feature allowing them to respond to customer reviews.

It is my sense that they won’t just respond but that they will actively respond. The passion that SMBs have about reviews will lead them to engage their customers in Places for better or worse. This engagement will incent more of them to claim their listings and monitor their reviews in a more active and even compulsive way.

Reviews have always been social in nature. In some respects they may be a business’s best social forum as the (hopefully happy) customers do most of the work. Yelp and before them others like CitySearch created social platforms around the review process and the business response. But because of the visibility of the 7 – Pack,  Google Places will capture the attention of SMBs in a way and with a volume that quickly become significant. It will lead to an ongoing, interesting (and possibly often bizarre) interchange between businesses and their customers.

Because of the potential for volume and visibility it may make reviews more “social” than ever and could very well become a primary territory for SMBS to interact with the world around them. Has Google possibly created their first successful foray pushing Maps to become a Social platform?

Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
Will Reviews Become Google's First Successful Foray into Social? by

8 thoughts on “Will Reviews Become Google’s First Successful Foray into Social?”

  1. You bring up a great question, Mike, and I can hardly wait to see what the response will be to this new feature. As you know, I love reading reviews as a means of understanding people and consumer attitudes, and now I get to have act II – watching how business owners respond. Of course, this has all existed for a long time in Yelp and the like…but this is Google, the big cheese. My main hope is that this move on Google’s part indicates that their review app will now be treated with more care and seriousness.

  2. Mike,

    Will these responses be limited to only reviews that have been written inside of the Place Page itself? In other words, when a negative review is imported from CitySearch or elsewhere will the business owner be able to respond to that (at least on the place page, not on the third party site through the place page) as well? Since a lot of reviews come from elsewhere this is an important point to consider.

  3. @Miriam
    Be sure to send me the “best” and “worst” of the owner responses that you see.

    Google usually doesn’t change just one thing…when they finally focus on something it is not uncommon for them to role out a number of improvements over time. I assume that this case will be no exception

    @Frank
    Google specifically notes: “you can publicly respond to reviews written by Google Maps users on the Place Page for your business.” So no you will not be able to respond to third party reviews on your Google Places page.

  4. Thanks, Mike. Unfortunately only industry people may pick up on that nuance. It may seem real obvious to folks on the inside but of course wants to promote this. As a result, I suspect more than a few people will be wondering why they can’t do something with all of their reviews that appear on the Google Place Page.

    Thanks for all of your great work here!

  5. Could be, could be — how could Google NOT be looking for ways to become a social platform. Small biz, reviews, Place Pages all seem a likely entry point. It’s fun to see some real Google action on this front!

  6. @Cindy

    Many of their recent rollouts (like Buzz, their new checkin api via Places API) have attempted to integrate social and Maps…it will be interesting to watch to see if Maps can move from Web 2.0 platform to a Social Web platform

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