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September 19, 2022

New “Nearby” Feature on TikTok Could Make Local Businesses More Discoverable by Gen Z Audience

With new features like a Nearby feed in the works, TikTok looks to be a promising channel for local businesses to market to Gen Z users.

TikTok is testing a new “Nearby” feature that would display local content to users in a separate Nearby feed, displayed next to the “Following” and “For You” feeds. This feature is currently being tested on certain users in Southeast Asia, but, if widely launched, it would have a significant impact on local businesses.

Many TikTok users already use the platform as a search engine. Rather than performing searches on Google, around 40% of young people turn to TikTok or Instagram.

Preferring visually heavy content, Gen Z customers are searching for your local business on these visual search engines. A “visual search engine” displays your search results through primarily video content in an immersive way.

Visual search excels in fields like fashion, food, culture and tourism. People are looking to get a sense of what certain experiences are actually like. On TikTok, video “reviews” of meals, outings, and events act as social proof about a place or experience. By referencing other users’ content, people are able to build confidence in brands by feeling like they know exactly what to expect from them.

@food_of_ct Come with us on our weekend getaway to Burlington, VT! #vermont #burlingtonvt #newenglandfood #newengland #foodiesoftiktok #weekendgetaway #vt #fyp ♬ Come With Me - Surfaces & salem ilese

TikTok local search = "Nearby"

Adding a local search option allows TikTok to become a desired destination for generic as well as local-specific searches. Using the “Nearby” feature, users would be able to access content filtered by their geographical area. This content may be a mix of individuals and local businesses.

Although the exact details of how the “Nearby” tab would work aren’t yet available, it’s safe to assume that users would consume more local content because of its prominent placement.

It’s clear: it could be extremely valuable to your business to show up on users’ TikTok feeds.

59% of established SMBs surveyed said TikTok has helped them grow revenue.

The success of these SMBs is due, in part, to the low barrier to entry to TikTok as a platform as well as the ability to reach non-followers. While national or international virality is of less value to businesses with a customer base in a specific geo (tourist destination businesses aside), virality controlled within your target market could be of significant value, generating buzz amongst locals and area visitors.

Not only would the addition of the Nearby feature bolster TikTok’s power as a search engine, but it would also provide many more opportunities for local businesses to be found by a younger consumer base.

Opportunity for new industries to break into the TikTok feed

Restaurants and bars have an easy “in” as food and drink are the primary content users are already searching for on the platform. While it may not seem as obvious how other industries such as automotive, property management, and healthcare would enter the TikTok space, we’ve put together some ideas.

Imagine your car dealership is hosting a Labor Day weekend sale. Try posting engaging content that week to TikTok of your inventory and your team getting ready. More nearby shoppers can learn about the sale, and your traffic would increase.

For property managers, consider showing off your best amenities on video. Even better, have your residents show off the amenities for you via user-generated video. Maybe you have a dog washing station, a pool or a beautiful pond. There will always be people in your community willing to take a tour of your property, and their TikTok browsing that week might inspire them to check out your location.

Another idea that may gain traction on TikTok is to make a video offering tips on apartment decoration or how to maximize space in a small apartment.

Orthodontics offices could make videos compiling before and after shots. Local physicians could consider providing healthcare advice like this TikTok famous Doctor.

@drstellac FDA’s website w/ expiration dates is in my linktree #AEJeansSoundOn #covidhometest #fda #expirationdate #rapidantigentest #teamhalo #learnontiktok #tiktokpartner #docsoftiktok #doclife ♬ original sound - 𝐛𝐢𝐛𝐛𝐥𝐞🛐😫

TikTok’s “Nearby” feature is still in testing, but you may want to consider jumping ahead of the curve by getting your local business established on TikTok. Independent of the potential of the Nearby feature, current users can use the search tool to find “restaurants in Miami” or “hotels in New Orleans.” With video content and location tagging, your business can show up and show off via visual search on TikTok. If Nearby does happen, you’ll be in an even better position to take advantage of the platform.

Looking to collect videos to deploy on TikTok? Check out Invite Video to see how Widewail can help.

New Product  Eager to learn how to make video testimonials work for your business? Learn more about Invite Video

Keaton Smith

I’m a writer, philosopher, climber, mountain biker, and a fried-egg enthusiast. Before joining Widewail as a Review Response Specialist, I attended Middlebury College and studied Philosophy and Art History. I grew up in Michigan, but I fell in love with Vermont while in school.

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