Google is making an attempt at a new social network that the company calls Shoelace, where users can browse a set of handpicked activities or add their own to Google recommendations and maps -- not just any map, of course, but Google Maps.
The connection between local advertising, Google Maps and Shoelace, a hyperlocal social network, seems too sweet to pass up. This is pure speculation, but if Google can gain traction for this new platform it seems that one day advertisers could have the opportunity to target in real-time based on triggers such as situations, places, weather and more.
In the app, if someone who may want to connect with other owners of Wheaten Terriers or line-dancing enthusiasts, for instance, they may want to connect with like-minded souls to plan a play date for their canines or a date for themselves.
It’s a tool to connect users in specific locations, so those looking for events can start a group chat to coordinate the details and make new friends.
Andrew Shotland, founder of Local SEO Guide, said if Google can gain traction it will become a fantastic place for local businesses to advertise. “If these hyperlocal networks like Next Door gain density, people using it in specific neighborhoods, it absolutely will become the best place for hyperlocal advertising,” he said.
Several months ago, Shotland said Google My Business launched a feature that gives users the ability to follow businesses, which he said could have been a stepping stone to the social network.
Anything around local is at some point “bound to bump into Google’s local advertising ambitions, but my guess is they see the success of Next Door in tying together hyperlocal communities.”
Shotland began using Next Door about a year ago after finding a dog. The local police in his area told him to post the lost dog on Next Door. It’s what Yelp tried to be and what Facebook kind of had going on.
“A byproduct of all this is local product and business recommendations,” Shotland said. "Google will need to get people using Shoelace, and from what they saw with Google+ it's not that easy."
Shoelace, which symbolizes the ability to stitch and tie together strings (of information), came out of Area 120, an area within Google focused on experiments and incubating new projects. These projects consist of small teams experimenting with early ideas.
"Like other projects within Area 120, it's an early experiment, so there aren't many details to share right now,” according to a Google spokesperson.
And while Area 120 projects are separate from and unrelated to other efforts at Google, I couldn’t help but contemplate its future.