Google and Citysearch have made announcements that have very little in common except for one big thing: They both involve simple new ways for local businesses to interact with their customers via social sites.
First the Google news: The company is snail-mailing window decals to 100,000 restaurants, stores, and other local spots that are well-reviewed by real people on Google Maps. That’s no huge whoop–Yelp decals already fill the windows of interesting eateries and storefronts, at least here in the Bay Area. But Google’s stickers have QR codes–those square bar codes. Scan one with any phone app that can do the job, and you’ll go to that business’s Place Page on Google Maps, where you can read (and write) reviews, look for coupons, and more. (QR code apps are plentiful: Google recommends beetagg, neoreader, QuickMark and Barcode Scanner.)
Okay, now for Citysearch’s news. The granddaddy of local-information sites is working with Twitter to add tweets to the information it uses to help folks learn about local businesses. People who run such businesses can “claim” their page for free: Among the benefits of doing so are the ability to sign up for Twitter within CitySearch, a feature enabled using Twitter’s new sign-up API, which lets third-party sites enable their users to register as Twitter users. Makes sense for me: As trendy as Twitter is, is there any question that there are far more small business owners who aren’t on it yet than who are?
Citysearch’s Twitter integration also puts tweets about a business directly on its page, and lets visitors tweet about from that page, too. Which is also a logical addition, given that tapping out 140 characters about a business is a far smaller commitment than writing even a brief review.
Citysearch’s restaurant-centric sister site Urbanspoon will also begin pulling in tweets about the eating establishments it covers.