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My Experience As a 'Google City Expert'
What Was the Google City Experts Program?
If you search Google City Experts you will be sent to a page with very little information. It basically tells you that the google city experts program was about writing reviews on places in your local area in return for exclusive benefits. It mentions that rewards for writing reviews included testing new products, entering great contests and more.
But really, on that basis alone it doesn’t seem like much of a program. I’d never heard of it till about a year ago and everyone I speak to outside the program has no idea what it is - or was. At the time of writing this article the program was replaced with the new Google Local Guides program. While we have seen an all too sudden farewell to Google City Experts, it may provide some clue to what we can expect from the program that has now taken it's place.
Have You Ever Heard of Google City Experts?
Google City Experts essentially involved writing reviews of local places in Google Maps or in Google Local. In exchange for doing so you would get to attend great free Google events at stunning venues in your city. The events were really worth attending with free food and drinks, lots of interesting people and free stuff to take home. And to put it into perspective, the reviews that were written for Google took a mere few minutes to write. You didn't have to be a writer in any sense of the word, just be concise and share your local knowledge of the place you were reviewing.
15 Reasons Why It Was A Great Idea To Be A Google City Expert
- To have a super-important sounding title: 'Google City Expert'
- To share local knowledge
- To give recognition to places that have great service and food etc
- To Meet lots of other amazing people who are Google City Experts, too
- To meet local celebrities
- To sample local boutique food and drink
- To learn to make great recipes that you can make on the day and take home
- To do crazy fun things with other people
- To enjoy regular events and amazing venues where all the food and drink is free
- To be involved in great competitions and win cool prizes both before and during events
- To get free stuff
- To pose for tonnes of photo opportunities
- You can bring a guest along with you each time and they get all this free stuff too
- To learn more about Google maps and Google Local and be able to contribute to changes on these platforms
- To practice your reviewing and writing skills
What Did It Take To Become A Google City Expert?
Once you went through the simple registration process you needed to write 50 reviews of places on Google Maps or Google Local.
And you could review almost anything - if you could find it listed on a place on Google Maps, you could review it. Your local children's playground, the National Park you went to last summer, the supermarket in the next suburb, the pub where your office Christmas party was held. All these places were potential review sites - and still are, in the new program. It doesn't matter if they have been reviewed before by other people too, your review counts as well.
During your time working on getting to 50 reviews, you were considered to be an 'aspiring' Google City Expert and there were events for people who were at that stage of the program too, so you still had the opportunity to get invited to events take part in competitions while you were still working towards full City Expert status.
To keep your status, thereafter you needed to write 5 reviews per month, every month, to keep getting invited to events and being part of the community.
My Experiences in the Google City Experts Program
Once I joined the program I attended one event for aspiring City Experts, and attended two additional main events for fully- fledged City Experts. During this time I learnt all sorts of stuff, won a competition prize and received a number of neat take home gifts. I also introduced one friend to the program as well.
i also feel like I have become better at writing concise reviews and whenever I enter a place I am in I always find myself thinking in terms of it's potential in a review - ensuring I am more observant. This has helped me in other areas of my writing.
One of the really reassuring aspects of this program was how chilled out it was. Qualify as an expert, keep writing your 5 reviews a month and you were sorted, really. As Google is renowned for being as an employer, they epitomised the fun approach with sophistication, colour and innovation all mixed in - and this came out in spades especially in the events and at the activities arranged for it's reviewers.
The main limitation of the program was that there were only programs for Google City Experts in some major cities e.g Sydney, London, New York, Los Angeles.
'Google City Experts' Becomes 'Local Guides' - Perhaps No Surprise
Google is notorious for setting up programs and then either dropping them completely or revamping them into something similar, but different. Think Google Docs becoming Google Drive and the Android Market becoming Google Play.
While in the very midst of writing this mid January 2015, Google - true to character - dropped the wonderful City Experts Program in favour of their new program known as 'Local Guides'. Unfortunately, apart from a basic notification email, we City Experts were neither warned of this, nor have we been given a whole lot of information regarding how things will go forward. We can only hope that the new program will be as good as the old.
Join 'Google Local Guides' Here
Join Google's program for reviewers to get benefits from sharing their experiences
What does seem to be clear at this time is that the new system will be more of a merit-based one and will be available to more than just the larger cities it was formerly confined to. This new system is also said to have different levels at which most exitsting 'City Experts' will automatically be ranked Level 3. As for the perks, they are as unclearly defined as they were entering the City Experts program.
Interested in trying out the 'local Guides' program? Well, if the City Experts program is any measure, the 'Local Guides' program could be just as exciting, although I wouldn't be too hopeful. The decentralization trend away from large cities, in itself, might indicate that they will be hosting less of the big events that were a highlight of the City Experts program. What that will leave remains to be seen. My advise is, if you are curious and you are keen to give it a go, just sign up and enjoy the ride while it lasts.
- Defining Google Local Guides A Little More
Google has a definition of what makes a 'Local Guide' and what they should aspire to.
Will You Sign Up To Be A Google Local Guide?
Moving Forward With Local Guides
Although I am a little skeptical as to the direction of Google's review programs I will definitely stick with it for the foreseeable future. The events and other benefits that I received from the City Experts Program made it more than worth my while - and I wasn't privy to them till I joined. You gotta be in it to win it, right? Hopefully there will be similar arrangements in the Local Guides Program, or even better. But failing that it's no less than good review-writing practice.
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