MapQuest made a move this week that has mostly flown under the radar, but I think it’s a great move for them, a potential boon for small business owners, and a sign of things to come. You may recall my October post, 8 Social Media Sites for Local Networking … well, MapQuest has flipped that coin. MapQuest Local, its excellent local portal, has added a social element with a local Twitter feed. Here’s what it looks like on a MapQuest Local home page:
When you visit any town’s MapQuest Local page, you’ll see a feed of posts from Twitter users in that area. And, as you can see from the screenshot above, this is placed on pretty good real estate — it’s above the fold. (Users can customize MapQuest Local, so no guarantee it’ll stay there. But the percentage of users who do customize the page is probably pretty small.)
I ran a little test on it this afternoon, and MapQuest picks up the new messages very quickly. Greg Sterling talked to MapQuest VP Mark Law today, who “painted a scenario where would-be tourists can identify local experts and make contact with them through this widget and Twitter.” Yes, and maybe not just would-be tourists, but would be home buyers relocating to a new area. (That’s a hint to any real estate agents reading this.)
I think this is a nice move for MapQuest for a variety of reasons, and another small justification for local businesses to try out social tools like Twitter. MapQuest says they get 46 million unique users per month, and MapQuest remains the number one map site online, ahead of Google Maps, Yahoo Maps/Local, etc.