Google's 'Local Guides' programme was expanded last month. Every Google Maps user can now aim to be the de-facto local guide by reviewing places that he/she visited, answering questions, adding photos and adding or editing places. Every activity gets you 1 point and when these points add up you can go up to predefined levels in the system. In the Google Maps app open the side menu and click on 'Your contributions'. In there one can see the list of places you have visited recently. The 'Contribute' tab is where all the places that you have visited and can review are presented. The 'Reviews' tab has all the reviews that you have submitted. The 'Photos' tab is where you can add photos to a place.
Benefits at each level are as follows:
Level 1: 0+ points
- Get the inside scoop with the Google Local Guides programme's monthly newsletter.
- Join Google hosted workshops and Hangouts
- In select countries, enter into exclusive contests for Local Guides
Level 2: 5+ points
- Get early access to new Google products and features
- Promote your own meet-ups on the Local guides calendar
Level 3: 50+ points
- Get noticed with your Local Guides badge in Google Maps
- Connect with other Local Guides in the exclusive Google+ community
- Lead the conversation by moderating Local Guides community channels
- Be eligible to receive training and promotion of unofficial communities
- Receive invites to Google hosted events in select cities
Level 4: 200+ points
- Upgrade your Google Drive storage free. If you become a Local Guide Level 4+, you can receive 1 TB of free Google Drive storage for two years.
- Be eligible to be featured on the official Google channels: Google+, Facebook, Twitter and more
- Receive an annual thank you gift (where permissible) for consistent, high quality contributions to Google Maps.
Level 5: 500+ points
- Be a Google insider, testing new products before public release
- Apply to attend Google Maps Level 5 Local guides summit
Some tips and observations to get to a higher level more easily
- Rating a place only does not suffice, one should put in review comments to earn a point
- Google shows up a list where you can review places that you have already visited. You can also review places which are not on the visited list as well. Just search for any place or establishment in Google Maps and you can add your review to it
- Adding a photo earns you 1 point. It doesn't matter if you add more than one photo of a place. You will still get only 1 point
- For some places Google pops up questions about the place. This is mostly for restaurants where Google is collecting lot of metadata about the restaurant such as whether WiFi is available and if there is a waiting time at the restaurant. Usually for a place there are about 5-6 questions that one can answer. Irrespective of the number of questions answered you still get 1 point per place
- Editing/Adding a place in Google Mapmaker does not earn you any points. Google should look at combining Mapmaker with the Local Guides program in near future
- Points are updated after 24 hours in the system
- Getting to Level 4 is easier. Having a mix of reviews, photos, answering questions one can easily get to Level 4
- The Google drive offer is received usually after 8-10 days and up to 5 weeks after reaching Level 4
This is a good initiative by Google to increase user participation in the Local Guides programme and make Google Maps more effective. At some point Google may expand some of the benefits that are there at each level to make it more attractive to contribute.
You can head on over to the Google Local Guides page for further information.