Twitter is testing a feature called “Nearby” that provides users with a new interface to receive and track nearby geo-tagged tweets based on their current location regardless of whether they are a follower. If implemented broadly, the tool could make it easier for consumers to find local businesses tweeting about their offerings.
The Wall Street Journal posted this screenshot of the new Twitter feed display, which so far has only appeared for users who allow their location info to be shared. The top half of the screen is a map, with the user’s current location indicated by a blue dot. The bottom half of the screen displays a timeline of recent nearby tweets from all Twitter users, with the locations of those tweets noted on the map. Users can click on a dot on the map to pull up the corresponding tweet. Additionally, picture-linked tweets pop up on the map as users move around.
I think a mass rollout of the “Nearby” feature could provide local brands and retailers with the opportunity to reach a broader array of consumers who are close-by their location, but not currently following them. Brands will be able to more easily promote pop-up events, sales and promotions with consumers in their area in real-time, which will inevitably bring more customers through the door.
At the same time, however, brands will need to adjust their Twitter messaging in order to cater to two audiences: those who already follow them because they are loyal customers, and those who are just learning about the brand for the first time because they are in the vicinity of the store. I think it will be a challenge for local businesses to balance the two effectively.
We’ll be keeping a close eye on how this tool is introduced in the coming weeks and months. It will be very interesting to see how brands adjust to this new environment and leverage the opportunity to reach and secure new customers!