Google is offering a free upgrade to 1TB Drive storage and other incentives for Google Maps users who've signed up as Local Guides reviewers and make frequent contributions.
The web giant launched Local Guides earlier this year to take on rivals in the restaurant review and recommendation business. The benefits offered by Google are designed to encourage high-quality reviews of businesses and enrich Google Maps with more local reviews.
To date, Local Guides reviewer benefits have included early access to products, invites to special events, and badges and icons on the reviewer's profile, but no incentives with a cash value.
That changes with the introduction of a new five-tier system that includes among its incentives a free upgrade to 1TB storage on Google Drive.
The five levels are meant to reflect a guide's level of activity through contributions and reviews. A maximum of five points can be earned at each location, with one point each for a photo, review, added place, edit, and answer to a question.
Under the new system, guides with fewer than five points are on level 1 and can enter exclusive contests, for example, for Google devices.
Guides who have reached level 2 have more than five points and can gain early access to Google products and features, as well as promote their own meetups on the Local Guides calendar.
Level 3, for guides with more than 50 points, is all about status in the Local Guides community and means they will appear in the Google Maps app with an official guide badge and can moderate community channels.
But the prize that might be the most attractive is for guides who earn over 200 points to reach level 4, which entitles them to a 1TB upgrade to their Google Drive storage account. At $9.99 a month, this could be worth the 40 location reviews required to reach that level.
Finally, guides with 500 or more points gain 'Google insider' status and will get to test new products before they're released to the public and the opportunity to attend its Local Guides summit.
Users can get a snapshot of their own contributions and how many people have viewed them via a new contributions tab in the latest version of Google Maps for the iPhone and Android devices.
An example of the early products that Local Guides can expect was Google's latest trial of Tablescape, a technology for taking better food shots. Google shut down an early trial of Tablescape but reintroduced it as a Maps feature for Local Guides.
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