Google’s Social Places Platform: Places and TalkBin

Google doesn’t get social. Or at least, that was the thinking about three weeks ago before Google+ came out. Now, Google is getting some respect and people are coming around to the idea that this engineering-heavy company from California might have a social muscle that has yet to be flexed.

I am a huge fan of Google+, in fact am using both Twitter and Facebook less because I’m on Plus more and more.

However, the real jewel in Google’s social crown is centered around the universe the company is building around places. I’m fortunate to live in Portland, Oregon, where Google debuted Google Places and some other cool location-based technologies. Google Places is powerful because it gives us a central place to look for business-specific information. At the Oregon Coast last month (a very rural part of Oregon), I saw a Google Places sticker on a restaurant window. After I scanned the code on my Nokia N8, I was taken to a webpage with a menu, hours of operation and recent reviews left by patrons. Very powerful stuff. These Places stickers are everywhere in downtown, but to see them on the Oregon Coast suggests a level of ubiquity that is rather high.

Yesterday, when I went to one of my favorite food carts here in downtown Portland, I saw this sticker:

Which, of course, piqued my curiosity. I whipped out my T-Mobile G2 and searched for TalkBin in the Android Market. Then I pulled up the individual cart and submitted a short piece of feedback. Within 10 minutes, I got a response from the owner of the cart!  That’s awesome. For testing sake, I also sent an SMS on my N8 and got a response in the same fashion.

So, what does this mean? It means that when I have feedback, good or bad, I have an automatic connection to the owner/manager of this business. To accomplish something similar, I’ve tweeted to business before, most of which are not listening on Twitter and Facebook for that matter. However, most of the time, complaints are best handled 1-on-1 anyways, so TalkBin is a huge asset to me as a consumer.

Google Starting to Own the Place Space

Google acquired TalkBin earlier this year and combined with Places, is becoming a go-to resource for me when it comes to business discovery and feedback. TalkBin is powerful because with native apps for Android and iPhone, combined with SMS for every other mobile consumer, we have a feedback mechanism that is unrivaled.

Of course, much of this functionality has been built in to Yelp for a few years now. however, having all this functionality inside an inclusive Google suite (through Maps as a gateway. One place to go for hours, reviews and feedback.  I like it – do you?


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