Social Media Column: Google Maps goes indoors

Published in the April 2, 2013 issue of The Edmonton Sun.

Linda’s social media column can be found every Tuesday in the Edmonton Sun.

Google Maps goes indoors

First there was Google Street View. Now, that Street View concept is going indoors and allowing local business owners to connect with potential customers online.

“It’s basically Google Street View inside of a business,” explains local Google certified photographer Kyle Giesbrecht (@FotoFotoYEG). 

”I like to say I’m taking over where the Street View cars left off and going inside.”

The service is officially titled Google Maps Business Photos. A Google certified photographer, like Giesbrecht, take photos inside a business, stitches them together and uploads an interactive, 360-degree tour to that business’ Google search profile.

The indoor Street View also appears on Google Maps and businesses can embed the virtual tours on their websites. 

Small business owner Jaylene Black of Saol Wellness wanted the indoor Street View function as a way to pull potential customers in.

“We know that if we get them through the door we can keep them but how do we get them through the door? That business view is what I thought would help,” Black said.

“I think we get a lot more people just coming to us because they have the opportunity to see what we’re all about online.”

Karen Bishop of The Daffodil Gallery says indoor Street View offers a unique opportunity to shed some misconceptions about her business.

”Our goal with Street View has been to encourage people to visit us and think about original art as more than something just for the rich and famous,” Bishop said.

”I think it’s the perfect way to engage a new generation without the intimidation factor that visiting an art gallery can have and I hope we will see new art collectors as a result of this.”

“Googling” something has become the norm in our super-connected society.

Who isn’t checking out businesses online before heading in?

With that in mind, businesses that offer potential customers a closer, interactive look inside their store online – before they even set foot inside – do stand out.

Google began offering the indoor business photos in Canada last May and only a handful of cities in a few provinces currently have certified photographers. Giesbrecht isn’t the only verified Google photographer in Edmonton but he’s certainly done the best job connecting and promoting himself on social media.

”Twitter has been awesome. You can really get the word out there and you don’t have to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars to advertise,” Giesbrecht says. 

Giesbrecht has done 16 businesses since he began last fall, with most leads made through Twitter.

He says as more hear the option is available in Edmonton, more local indoor Street Views will pop up online.

It’s a nice feature that offers an online ‘extra’ element for potential customers.

And I commend Giesbrecht for utilizing social media to reach out to local biz!

Some Tweets of the Week

@VealeAndrea: Exactly why I am a student @NAIT! Our Business instructors are the BEST. So many industry contacts and connections! So lucky! #YEG #NAIT

@TheSqueakyDoor: If it all goes to plan, today I officially put my winter jacket away til next winter #yeg

@ScrodoBaggins1: The #yeg pothole farm is coming along beautifully, looking like a bumper crop this year

@Mikerobe007: If there is an appropriate amount of time to make eye contact with a police officer, I would really like to know. #awkward #yeg

@lizlopresti: Indulging my inner child playing out in the sun and jumping in puddles. Love this weather!!! #yeg

Click here to read the column on the Edmonton Sun website!

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