Twitter is testing yet another new feature that alerts members when events are happening nearby. Although unconfirmed, this could have major implications for local businesses and location-based marketers.
First spotted by TechCrunch reporter Anthony Ha, these proximity-based alerts are organized around hashtags — similar to Twitter’s Trending TV feature. The test also seems to be limited to the company’s iOS app.
In the screenshot provided by Ha, a box at the top of the timeline is divided into three parts: one with a hashtag for the event with its distance from the viewer; one with a tweet related to the event; and one taking the viewer to a longer list of tweets mentioning that hashtag. The box can be dismissed by clicking the “x” in the upper right corner.
Twitter declined to comment on the test, so it’s unclear what the company is doing behind the scenes to display the timely events. However, it’s easy to imagine Twitter leveraging this functionality to alert members to news and events happening in their neighborhoods.
Should that happen, it’d be an interesting twist for advertisers and retailers. Not only could it be used to get consumers more engaged, but it could easily be expanded to work as a new mobile ad unit. Twitter already offers Trending Topics; it wouldn’t be difficult to put sponsorship in front of events.
The company’s recent list of experimental features signals Twitter’s interest in figuring out the best way to deliver timely information to its members. We’ll be sure to keep you updated as more information about the tests, or future rollouts, are released.