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Local Memo: Meta Lays Off 13% of Staff


In this week’s update, learn about Meta’s move to lay off 11,000 employees; video previews in Google Business Profiles; a Google bug that deletes reviews; the disappearance of Google photo views; the possibility of bankruptcy at Twitter; and the launch of TomTom’s new mapping platform. 


Meta Lays Off 13% of Staff


Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced to employees on Wednesday that some 13% of the corporation’s staff, amounting to more than 11,000 people, would be laid off. Meta’s Q3 expenses are reportedly up 19% from the same period last year, totalling $22.1 billion. Zuckerberg said the layoffs were part of an effort to “become a leaner and more efficient company.” Meta will also cut discretionary spending and freeze hiring through Q1 2023. 


Meta has made long-term bets on the eventual success of the metaverse, spending $9.4 billion on development so far this year and $10 billion last year. Meanwhile, the company’s ad revenue has been heavily impacted by Apple’s opt-out technology, launched in 2020, which allows users to block ad tracking and targeting. 


In addition to lower ad revenues, Zuckerberg’s announcement points to declining e-commerce sales and the economic downturn as drivers behind Meta’s job cuts. A more streamlined operation will narrow its focus, he said, to key initiatives including AI, ads, business support, and the metaverse. 


Video Previews Showing in Google Profiles


Users such as Allie Margeson from Whitespark, along with SOCi’s Mike Snow, have noticed that Google Maps is auto-playing video content in the mobile display of Google Business Profiles. I can’t replicate this myself, but it appears that videos, when present in a profile’s gallery, are being promoted to the second position in the carousel view, next to the cover photo. This prominent placement for video content, if rolled out broadly, is likely to increase the value of videos in Google listings and its influence on conversion. 


Increased visibility of a single featured video could bring unintended consequences, however. Consider the case recently posted to the Local Search Forum of a dentist whose listing included “before” and “after” videos depicting the results of dental implant surgery. Google decided to include a screenshot of the “before” video as the main photo in the listing – an “off-putting” image according to the post author – and this prominent placement caused clicks and calls from Google to drop by 25%.



Google Bug Deletes Reviews when Profile Updated


Mike Blumenthal reports that users in the Google Business Profile forum are reporting a new bug whereby many, sometimes all, reviews from a business profile are suddenly removed. The timing of the review removals appears to coincide with notifications from Google saying that the business profile has been updated. Such updates are common and may originate from Google users or from sources accessed by Google itself. Blumenthal finds that in every case where users have lost reviews, Google has also changed the CID of the listing – an ID that normally only changes due to merger or reinstatement after suspension. 


Unfortunately, when businesses lose Google reviews, often the only way to get them restored is to contact Google support and provide evidence consisting of screenshots of the missing reviews. As an insurance policy, Blumenthal recommends taking occasional screenshots of your reviews. Platforms like SOCi can also be useful in these cases since they retain copies of all reviews Google publishes. 


Photo Views Disappear from GBP


Another Local Search Forum user has reported on the disappearance of photo view stats on individual photos, which seem to be gone from both the legacy Photos tab in the Google Business Profile Manager dashboard and from the newer Search interface. I’m seeing the same thing in both interfaces. Previously, Google showed a view count for each photo, in addition to aggregating all photo views in a chart on the Insights tab in the dashboard. We already know that the new Search interface excludes the photo view chart, but the removal of individual view counts appears to be a new development. Joy Hawkins reported that she was checking with Google to see whether the removal is intentional. 


Is Twitter Facing Bankruptcy?


Twitter’s second week under Elon Musk’s leadership continued on a chaotic path, with more senior leaders resigning and the launch of the paid blue check mark resulting in a wave of accounts impersonating celebrities and companies. After an account impersonating Eli Lilly announced that the pharmaceutical company would provide insulin for free, company stock fell by 4.5%. Twitter shut down the paid subscription program as quickly as it was launched, and has made a series of confusing announcements in the time since about various blue and grey badges indicating different types of official status. 


The subscription plan was one of Musk’s schemes to make Twitter profitable, his primary focus as its new leader. Indeed, last week he announced to Twitter staff that “bankruptcy is not out of the question” if the company cannot reverse losses. Twitter was reportedly losing $4 million per day when Musk took over.


In at least one positive sign, Twitter installs and usage are both up since the acquisition, even as many users have fled to alternative platforms like Mastodon and Tumblr. 


TomTom Launches New Mapping Platform


Veteran navigation company TomTom, one of the originators of consumer GPS technology, has announced the launch of the TomTom Maps Platform, “a standard base map that anyone can contribute to and benefit from.” The map is built using a combination of data from TomTom enabled vehicles and OpenStreetMap, the global open source mapping platform built by volunteers, as well as third party sources. Contributors will reportedly be able to add layers to the map for specific use cases. TomTom claims the new platform will make use of continuous updates to keep data accurate and up to date, and will support new in-car applications as well as other development projects, citing automated driving and electric vehicle support as primary development areas. TomTom is a contributor to Apple Maps. 

Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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