TikTok is testing a new ‘Nearby’ feed that is designed to display local content to users. A spokesperson for the company told TechCrunch that the new feed is being tested with select users in Southeast Asia and that the test is currently limited in scope. Users who are part of the limited test will see the new feed tab displayed alongside the “Following” and “For You” feeds on the app’s homepage.
“We’re always thinking about new ways to bring value to our community and enrich the TikTok experience,” a spokesperson for TikTok told TechCrunch in an email.
The new feed, which was first reported by social media consultant Matt Navarra, is being tested alongside a feature that gives creators the ability to add location tags to their videos. The TikTok spokesperson said that the ability to add location tags is gradually rolling out to creators. When asked if the Nearby feed only displays videos that have location tags, the spokesperson said it was too early to say based on the current limited scope of the feed.
TikTok’s ‘Nearby’ feed spotted in the wild pic.twitter.com/WG5yND3oLl
— Brendan Gahan (@brendangahan) August 24, 2022
TikTok has already made a name for itself through its recommendation algorithm, and the addition of a Nearby feed would give it the ability to display even more personalized and relevant content to its users. It’s worth noting that the launch of a Nearby feed would also see TikTok catching up with Snapchat’s Snap Map and Instagram’s recently launched searchable map that is designed to make it easier to discover nearby popular locations. Both of these offerings give users a way to find local content and discover nearby places.
TikTok’s Nearby feed would offer a similar experience but be paired with the app’s already-successful recommendation algorithm. In theory, the feed should display local content that you actually want to see. For example, if your For You page often displays restaurant recommendations or must-see hiking spots, the Nearby feed should show you videos of restaurants and hiking trails that are near you.
The Nearby feed would open up several new possibilities for the app and also have the potential to impact platforms like TripAdvisor and Google.
The test comes as Google itself has acknowledged that TikTok is cutting into its Search product, as senior vice president Prabhakar Raghavan, who runs Google’s Knowledge & Information organization, recently noted that younger users are often turning to apps like Instagram and TikTok instead of Google Search or Maps for discovery purposes. Raghavan noted that nearly 40% of young users go to TikTok or Instagram when looking for a place to eat, as opposed to Google Maps or Search. If TikTok rolls out its Nearby feed more widely, it would likely make this discovery process even easier and more targeted. For instance, if TikTok shows users videos of nearby popular restaurants via the Nearby tab, users could save the videos and come back to them when they’re looking for something to eat.
It’s worth noting that the Nearby feed could also open up new opportunities for local advertisers, as the feed could be used to display advertisements for nearby businesses and services, if this is something TikTok were to explore. Although TikTok already features in-feed ads, the addition of local ads could give small brands and companies the ability to reach users that may have not known about them otherwise.
TikTok says that as with any other test feature, it’s possible that the Nearby feed may change before an official launch or perhaps be scraped altogether.
The short-form video app’s Nearby feed isn’t the only new feed that it’s currently testing. TikTok is testing a dedicated “Shop” feed that lets users browse and purchase products from a number of different categories, such as clothing and electronics. The feed is currently being tested in Indonesia. The Shop tab serves as a hub for products being sold in TikTok Shop, a shopping feature that enables merchants and creators to showcase and sell products directly on TikTok. TikTok did not say when or if it plans to bring the Shop tab to more markets.