Local Memo: Google Maps Now Showcasing “Photo-First” Results
In this week’s update, learn about the new “photo-first” results in Google Maps; combined plugins in ChatGPT; Facebook’s AI-powered posts and photos; Google’s test of Perspectives on desktop; a new Nearby filter on Instagram; and predictions for social media marketing in 2024.
Google Maps Now Showcasing “Photo-First” Results
Google is rolling out what it calls “photo-first” results in Google Maps, utilizing AI to identify photos uploaded to Google Business Profiles that match specific user queries. Google is calling this a “visual list of places” and a “new way to search” based on discovery and inspiration. Results can be organized thematically; for example, if you search for things to do in Tokyo, Google might display groups of photos with titles like “anime,” “cherry blossoms,” or “art exhibitions.” The update will launch globally “in the coming weeks” on iOS and Android.
The announcement comes as part of what Google is calling the October 2023 Maps update. Also included is the rollout of Immersite View for routes, first announced at this year’s I/O conference. In select cities in the U.S. and across the world, users will be able to view an AI-assisted preview of driving, biking, and transit routes, including simulations of traffic and weather. The release builds on Immersive View for places, launched in select cities earlier this year.
The October update includes a broad rollout of Lens in Maps to 50 new cities, the addition of details to navigation including AI-powered speed limit information, and more features for finding the right EV charging station for your vehicle.
ChatGPT Now Offering Combined Plugins
OpenAI is reportedly planning to launch an “All Tools” mode for ChatGPT that allows users to enable multiple first party plugins at once. Previously, users could only enable one plugin at a time, but the update will apparently let users turn on all three OpenAI plugins simultaneously: DALL-E 3, Advanced Data Analysis, and Browse with Bing. The update, which some users already have access to, expands upon the multimodality ChatGPT had already inaugurated with the addition of DALL-E for image generation and the ability to accept images as inputs. Some users are also noticing that ChatGPT now says its data is current through September 2023, whereas the previous cutoff was September 2021. (It’s unclear whether the new date is accurate; when I ask the same question, ChatGPT gives yet another answer: “My training data includes information up to April 2023.”)
Meta Brings AI to Facebook Posts and Photos
Meta is launching AI-generated profile pictures for Facebook users, according to reports. TikTok and Snapchat also offer features for customizing your profile picture with AI. The company is also testing a feature called Write with AI that uses generative AI to help users compose posts. In a screenshot captured by app researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, Facebook explains, “AI takes your prompts to create content that brings your story to life.” A similar feature was launched by LinkedIn earlier this year. In Meta’s case, the new AI tools appear to be part of a broader strategy to acclimate its user base to AI as it prepares to roll out the chatbot features announced at the recent Meta Connect conference.
Courtesy Alessandro Paluzzi
Google Tests Perspectives on Desktop
Already live in mobile search, the Perspectives filter is now being tested by Google in desktop results. Perspectives gives a new level of prominence to results from social media, focusing solely on video content, images, and posts shared by users on social platforms and discussion boards. The filter was first announced at this year’s I/O conference and began rolling out to mobile devices in May.
Perspectives on desktop, courtesy Ethan Lazuk / Search Engine Roundtable
Instagram Shows Users Nearby Stories
Again from researcher Alessandro Paluzzi, we have the news that Instagram is testing a new “Nearby” feature that shows users Story content from users and businesses near them. Andrew Hutchinson notes that a similar feature is prominent on the Chinese version of TikTok, called Douyin, which “uses its local content feed to promote local businesses and drive more engagement.” On Douyin, businesses can use ads to showcase local delivery and other services. Shopping features have proven more popular so far with Chinese users of Douyin than with U.S. TikTok users, though some users have also seen a Nearby tab in their feeds on TikTok. TikTok’s experiments with local content may well be the motivation behind Instagram’s similar move.
Nearby feed on Instagram, courtesy Alessando Paluzzi
Predictions for Social Media Marketing in 2024
Andrew Hutchinson of Social Media Today has offered his annual predictions for the coming year in social media marketing. Here’s a quick summary of some of what’s to come in 2024 in Hutchinson’s view:
- More AI features and greater utilization of AI to power recommendations such as for Reels content
- The failure of celebrity personas as AI chatbots and a refocus on AI that provides useful features rather than “gimmicks”
- Promotion of 3D avatars, paving the way to the metaverse
- More messaging features for businesses, including AI-powered business chatbots
- As with Facebook, greater usage of AI powered recommendations augmenting user feeds
- Possible launch of collaborative AI images and AI-based animated avatars
- Expansion of Threads app features and user base as it becomes a viable alternative to X
- Possible in-store AR integrations such as virtual try-on
- Ultimate failure of the paid subscription model the company is currently promoting
- Lots of red tape trying to launch payments
- More focus on real-time news and sports content
- Continued threat of bankruptcy
- Possible incorporation of both food delivery and local business “listings” as part of an attempt to promote in-app commerce
- Ability to produce AI-generated video content
- More experimentation with AI chatbots
The article also contains predictions for Pinterest, LinkedIn, and Snapchat.