Instagram is once again taking cues from TikTok, and could be looking to negate the next push from the app with this new test.
As you can see in this image, shared by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Instagram’s currently experimenting with a new “Nearby” feed for Stories, which would highlight public content from users and businesses in your vicinity.
Which is already a key element of the Chinese version of TikTok, called “Douyin”, which uses its local content feed to promote local businesses and drive more engagement.
TikTok’s been experimenting with similar as well, with some users seeing an alternate “Nearby” feed in the main UI of the app.
The advantage of this feed is that it provides a new surface for promotion, with local brands able to reach users based on geography, while in China, it’s also enabled Douyin to branch into new ad offerings, like services and food delivery, via the app.
Which could be where TikTok is looking to go next with its in-app commerce push. In-stream commerce has become the key revenue driver for Douyin, but thus far, Western users haven’t shown the same level of interest in buying products in the app.
But maybe, if it could get people, say, ordering food, that could be a key step towards facilitating transactions, in that if it can get people spending on one element, that makes it a lot easier to expand on that process with even more shopping options.
As such, I suspect that Instagram could be looking to head them off at the pass, by trying out its own “Nearby” stream as a potential hedge for TikTok’s next move.
Either way, it could be an interesting addition, though IG will likely need to reiterate to users that they’ll need to update their privacy settings in order to avoid their content being shown to their neighbors.
Instagram hasn’t provided any official update on this test.