In this week’s update, learn about the popularity of social platforms for search amongst younger users; increased reliance of consumers on trustworthy reviews; Google’s shutdown of the GMB app; multiple user profiles on Facebook; Google Maps routing for electric vehicles; and creating the most engaging social media posts.
Please note that I’ll be out on vacation next week. The Local Memo will return on Monday, August 1.
40% of Young Consumers Turn to Social Platforms for Local Search
In news that has been widely reported over the last few days, Google’s Prabhakar Raghavan let slip during a presentation at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference that some 40% of “young people” are more likely to turn to Instagram or TikTok than to Google Maps or Search when seeking information. “We keep learning, over and over again,” said Raghavan, “that new internet users don’t have the expectations and the mindset that we have become accustomed to. [The] queries they ask are completely different.”
Google separately confirmed that Raghavan’s statements were based on internal company research of consumers aged 18 to 24. Following the news, Rand Fishkin kicked off an active discussion on Twitter about just how young people use social platforms to conduct searches that are traditionally done via keywords in search engines. Raghavan’s point may have been that young users are more oriented toward discovery than search, but many users suggested that both search and discovery are popular in image- and video-oriented platforms.
Google’s own experiments with visual search make more sense in the context of research suggesting younger users will have high expectations in this area.
My own search for nearby restaurants on TikTok
75% of Consumers Say They Read More Reviews than Ever
A new survey, conducted by Kelton and commissioned by Yelp, asked 1,500 U.S. residents about their review-reading habits, and found that 75% are reading more reviews than ever, with 70% saying they rarely visit a business without checking its reviews first. Some 90% of respondents say they trust reviews with text over stand-alone star ratings. Consumers prefer medium-length reviews of between 16 and 50 words over shorter or longer reviews.
According to the study, 64% of respondents say they would suspect bias in a review if they knew it was requested by the business. Half of respondents said they wouldn’t trust the reviews of a business in general if they knew that business was asking customers to leave reviews.
The study finds review response to be a powerful tool for businesses, with 88% of respondents saying they would disregard a negative review if adequately responded to by the business. As far as quantity of reviews, most respondents said they typically read 3-5 reviews when evaluating a business.
Google Shuts Down GMB App
Last fall when Google announced that Google My Business would become Google Business Profile, the company let users know that the Google My Business app would be discontinued some time in 2022. The time has arrived. Users of the app have been sent a notice stating that it is no longer available. Searching for the app in Apple’s App Store turns up no results. Google has published a help page with the title “Transitioning from the Google My Business App to Google Maps & Search.”
The app was primarily used by owners of small businesses, and never worked well for multi-location brands or for agencies and platforms managing multiple listings. The transition away from the GMB dashboard and toward Maps and Search as the preferred interfaces for small business users meant that the app no longer fit Google’s paradigm for Google Business Profile management. The Google Business Profile Manager desktop dashboard (previously known as the GMB dashboard) continues to function for single and multi-location businesses, though Google has suggested that it will become more oriented toward multi-location businesses in the future.
In its ongoing effort to mirror more and more features from the old dashboard in Search, Google recently added a toggle to the Search interface that allows business owners to hide their addresses from publication – a typical need for service-based businesses.
Courtesy Search Engine Roundtable
Facebook May Enable Multiple User Profiles
According to reports from Bloomberg, Facebook is experimenting with a new user management system that would allow personal users to create different profiles for different parts of the platform. Users would potentially be allowed to create up to five different profiles, all managed under one master account. These sub-account profiles will not require users to display their real names. The development seems prompted by the popularity of Groups, wherein Facebook users can interact with a select group of others based on shared interests. Content posted in Groups is not seen by others in the user’s larger network. If the Groups model does expand, users might create separate profiles for interacting with friends, family, co-workers, and other social sub-groups. There may be a metaverse angle as well, with Meta looking to encourage the creation of multiple avatars for use in VR settings.
Google Maps to Add Routing for Electric Vehicles
According to release code examined by 9to5Google, Google Maps may be expanding its support for eco-friendly routing, first rolled out last year, with a specific focus on electric and hybrid vehicles. Users will likely be able to specify their engine type (gas, electric, or hybrid) when requesting directions, causing Maps to display routes that are optimal for each type of vehicle. This expanded functionality comes alongside other efforts on Google’s part to support sustainability locally, including improved transit directions as well as attributes designed to promote recycling kiosks in Google Business Profiles.
Tips for Creating Engaging Social Posts
Ingrid Adames has a post on Search Engine Journal offering tips for generating better engagement for businesses posting on social media. She reminds us that social platforms have billions of users spending an average of two and a half hours per day sharing and consuming social media content. This creates a ripe opportunity for brands to get consumer attention, but only if they follow best practices such as the following:
- Research what types of content are most likely to appeal to your target audience.
- Look at what your competitors are doing well and learn from it.
- Create and maintain a distinctive brand voice.
- Build relationships with audience members.
- Keep posts short.
- Include compelling CTAs.
- Make use of images and videos.
- Experiment with timing and frequency.
- Match posts to platform expectations.
- Plan out your social media strategy.
The full post has a lot of useful detail around each of these items, so check it out!