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TikTok dips into local content with a ‘Nearby’ video feed

The news: TikTok is going local with a new “Nearby” video feed on the For You page that shows videos made in your area and allows users to add location tags to content.

  • The feed is currently being tested in Southeast Asia, and TikTok has not said if it will spread to other markets.

Following competitors: In an unusual twist, TikTok is the one copying from other social media competitors that already have location-specific content features. But TikTok’s highly targeted content will make geolocation features especially effective.

  • Snapchat launched “Snap Maps” in 2017, allowing users to view a heatmap of users across the world and public stories posted by specific location. Snap Maps also has a search function that shows nearby locations that are popular with friends or with users in general.
  • Instagram launched a feature earlier this summer that lets users see a map of an area by tapping on a photo’s location tag. From there, users can filter the map by specific types of content or businesses like cafes and restaurants or clothing shops.
  • TikTok’s Nearby feed doesn’t appear to have a map function yet, but location tags will still let users see content in specific areas. But unlike Snap Maps, TikTok’s Nearby feed is designed to work like its standard For You feed, providing location-specific content that is still relevant to your personal interests.

TikTok’s opportunity: The app’s ad revenues are already set to soar past Twitter and Snapchat combined, but adding localized features can help TikTok tap into valuable local advertising markets and aid smaller businesses in reaching consumers.

  • Location-specific content will also open up other opportunities with major advertising partners. TikTok recently struck a deal with Ticketmaster that allows users to purchase event tickets without leaving the app. Uber has also tried to tap into local advertising and events with a similar feature launched in March.
  • Increased discoverability for restaurants and other local businesses could lead to partnerships with Uber or other food delivery apps. TikTok has been leaning into social commerce and in-app purchases for a while, and now those tools can be applied to businesses with proximity to users.
  • The Nearby feed could also bolster TikTok’s growing power as a search platform. Google recently shared in-house research indicating that 40% of Gen Z users prefer to use TikTok over Google for searches. By adding a local feed, TikTok can further expand that gap and become a go-to destination for both general and local-specific searches.

The big takeaway: Local content is a natural fit for TikTok that plays into its social commerce, search, and advertising goals.

  • The Nearby feed will likely come to other major markets, but increased geofencing and gathering of local data could be a problem for the app, which is plagued with political scandals relating to user privacy.