Google dropping follow and welcome offers in local listings
Google quietly announced in the local business forums that it will soon be deprecating the follow and welcome offers features for local business listings. "Soon, customers will no longer be able to follow businesses on Google Search or the Google Maps app," a Google Community Manager said.
What is going away. It is not clear when "soon" is exactly but the follow feature launched in 2018, allowing searchers to follow businesses through Google Search and Google Maps. When a searcher followed a business, the business would be able to send updates from the business to the user's "For You" tab. Then the following year, Google added welcome offers to searchers who followed those businesses for businesses to give them special offers.
What it looked like. Here is a GIF of these two features in action:
Timing. As I said above, the timing is unclear, but Kara from Google did say "soon." She added that you will not be able to send new welcome offers when this happens. And ff you already sent customers a welcome offer, that offer will work until it expires.
Why we care. If you used the follow and welcome offers to engage with customers, you should know that the features are going away soon. It is hard to know how many local businesses actually used the feature, I would assume not enough to keep the feature going and bug-free within Google.