Twitter, the 140-character limit social media giant, has been testing ways to add location tweets to users that are nearby.
Twitter had included a way for users to add their locations to tweets back in 2010, but the feature had to be turned on manually by the user as their location wasn’t added by default. A small group of users that had the location feature enabled, recently saw an option appear in their timelines labeled, “Nearby.” Clicking on the Nearby feature showed recent tweets that were sent from other Twitter users that are near their current location.
Some experts are saying that this is Twitter’s attempt at solving the “Discover” tabs deficiencies. The discover tab and the search function has always seemed to struggle to organize millions of hits into something usable, digestible and locally relevant to the user.
Pivotal Research Group’s Brian Wieser thought that this was a very positive move for Twitter and by adding the location feature it may attract advertisers with interest of the benefit of location-based tweets.
Twitter refused to comment on the “Nearby” testing, but they did say that tests are quite often used as a tool for improving their service.
When a test-group user clicks on the “Nearby” tab, the top half of the screen shows a map with pulsing blue dots denoting the current locations of other Twitter users near their location. The bottom of the “Nearby” screen shows the tweets recently sent by the users in their current location. When they clicked an icon, the app pulls-up their corresponding tweet to the front of the screen.
The “Nearby” map seems to act a bit like Google Maps and has been compared as having similar features and functions as if someone was to search for a grocery store. It allows a user to move around the map with pictures linked to the tweets popping-up to the front of the screen. The feature will allow users to interact more on events in their neighborhoods and share information in tweets of their local news.
The new “Nearby” function is completely optional for users. If a user decides to keep their location private, they just have to adjust the privacy settings found under “Location Services” on their device.
Twitter’s “Nearby” feature could be one way of edging-out some of the other location-based companies and competitors. Foursquare and Path are just two competitors that Twitter may now be targeting and have in their sights. Swaying advertisers from these two could prove to hurt or be fatal to the much smaller location-based social media players.
Not all of Twitter’s tests will make it to full roll-out and into permanent functions or features. This week Twitter changed their universal blocking policy but reverted back to the original blocking policy just the very next day. Twitter users revolted with news of the policy change but Twitter heard their voices and quickly reneged on their decision to make the blocking function change.
Since adding the location function back in 2010 it appears that Twitter had a plan in place for location-based tweets for quite some time now. With experts seeing ways to improve Twitter’s ad revenue with them using the “Nearby” feature, it seems that this test is one that may be rolled-out universally soon. Soon maybe all users will be able to tweet near you and make Twitter more social than ever.
By Brent Matsalla