Google Hotpot is a new addition to the Google Places local search application. Many of you will be familiar with Google Places, which lets you search for businesses based on location. Google Hotpot spices it up by allowing you to discover and rate local businesses that you and your friends love (or hate).
Like any delicious Hotpot, Google’s latest application is best shared with family and friends. When you add a friend, which can be anybody who is a Hotpot user, their recommendations will begin to show up on your Google Maps results in the Hotpot application.
With just a click of a button, Google Hotpot users are assured of trustworthy recommendations from their network. This takes a direct shot at Foursquare and Yelp; services which have been under fire from reports of fake recommendations, fake check-ins, and trolls.
In order for you to stake your Hotpot claim, you will need to have a Google Places listing already. Having an image such as your business logo or a photograph of your shop front associated with your Google Places business profile will make your Hotpot listing stand out, especially during these early stages of adoption.
As with any online business listing, users are drawn to listings that look substantial and professional, so it’s important to provide as much information as possible, and ensure it’s a strong extension of your brand.
The next step is to start promoting it. You should encourage your customers to use Hotpot and rate their experience with your business. As Hotpot continues to grow both virally and through Google’s marketing, more of your customers will start providing reviews as a matter of course.
Of course, Hotpot like any review site is also a risk, as you have little control over the negative reviews. All the more reason to ensure your business experience is nothing short of exceptional.
I wouldn’t be surprised if Hotpot reviews were soon included in Google’s local ranking system. It’s the social integration that Google’s needed, and now it controls the entire journey.
Millions of people use Google Places each day – so expect to see Hotpot become a key ingredient in the local business marketing recipe very soon. For the savvy small business owners out there, I recommend jumping on the Hotpot bandwagon early. Start racking up those reviews!
Rene LeMerle is VP of Marketing with ineedhits.