Google just launched a “status update” field that merchants can use to send real-time messages to their profile page (i.e. Place Pages) in Google Maps. Accessible from the Local Business Center dashboard (which means it’s only available to businesses who have claimed their listing), you can read more about it on the Google LatLong blog.
Holding a special event today? Want to post a coupon for 5-7pm tonight? Have a new product in stock? You can now get the word out by posting to your Place Page directly from your Local Business Center dashboard. Once you’ve logged in and are on your business’ dashboard, post an update and it will go live on your Place Page in just a few minutes. To see an example, check out the Place Page for Mission Mountain Winery which posted to introduce a new wine.
What it means: After Facebook, Google is now having real-time envy (or is that Twitter envy?). This is a small addition but it tells a lot about the product direction. As you can see in the example, attribution for the message is showing it’s coming “From the owner”. Expect Google to allow users to give that kind of real-time feedback in the future, hereby improving on user ratings/reviews. You can also expect broadcast bridges to other social networks.
If I was in Facebook’s or Twitter’s shoes, I would move quickly and enter the structured local business listings world by offering pre-populated fan pages (for Facebook) and merchant profiles (for Twitter). This would simplify the entry for SMEs and basically enable a “claim your profile” function on those two social networks. It also would simplify the mass structuring of real-time content (which is very valuable).