Earlier this year, I wondered when Google+ would be integrated with Google Places.
That's as logical of a local business booster as you can get. Take Google's social network and pair it with the company's local business search service.
Google is indeed hard at work in this effort. The company accidentally posted help documentation that talks of check-in offers triggered via Google+.
The documentation read in part:
"If your customers have to visit your locations in order to do business with you, you can request that they check-in on Google+ in order to redeem your offers. They can choose to share the check-in publicly or with some of their circles, which helps spread the word about your business on Google+. They can also choose to keep their check-in private and still redeem an offer."
Now that's serendipity as former Google CEO Eric Schmidt envisioned it back in September 2010!
Imagine checking into the local TGI Friday's for lunch only to learn of a $10 for $20 offer. You could treat your friend or colleague to a meal. That fosters good will and, possibly, future patronage at that Friday's.
The documentation was here before Google ripped it down. Why? A spokesperson explained:
"While prepping for a test of a new check-in offer feature, we published a support center article a little early and have since removed the article. We apologize for any confusion this may have caused. Please stay tuned for roll out of this feature for merchants, which we're targeting for next week."
OK, so that cat's out of the bag. Clearly, check-in offers is a follow-up to the Google+ Pages service for businesses to flaunt their wares. This integration should be no surprise.
Google laid the foundation for this service with Google Latitude check-in offers, which it launched this past February and at South by Southwest in March. South by Southwest provided much needed context to the Latitude offers.
But Google+ will provide a social context Latitude simply lacked. There are already a lot more people using Google+ -- probably 50 million or so. People can check in, redeem offers and share info about their purchases with folks in their Circles. Or not.
This would be another stab at social commerce, which has proved to be a tough nut to crack at scale outside of Groupon and LivingSocial, neither of which are super social.
Check-in offers on Google+ is also a big deal considering that Facebook just bagged Gowalla's location-sharing talent, possibly to take another stab at location services.