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Local Memo: 83% of Social Media Users Turn to Meta for Shopping


In this week’s update, learn about Meta as a destination for shopping; the rollout of Google’s Helpful Content Update; TikTok’s experimental “Nearby” feed; Nextdoor’s 2022 Neighborhood Favorites; photo captions in GBP; and the reach of Instagram Reels.


83% of Social Media Users Turn to Meta for Shopping


A report from SimplicityDX shows that 83% of social media users consider Meta apps, including Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram, to be destinations for shopping. A large part of that perception is driven by Facebook Marketplace, which caters to private and smaller sellers; leaving Marketplace aside, Meta apps are used for shopping by 65% of users. Collectively, then, Meta apps represent the biggest opportunity for brands looking to win customers via social discovery.


Underlining the importance of the discovery mindset, 48% of those surveyed in the study said they use social media to find out about new products, but prefer to go to the business website to complete purchases. Some 87% of Instagram users reported that they had followed a brand or visited a brand website after encountering a product on the platform. 


TikTok is offering the fiercest competition to Meta as a shopping platform, even though it only began supporting ecommerce last year. 



Two graphs showcasing that the Facebook Marketplace is the largest platform for ecommerc



Courtesy SimplicityDX / Business of Apps


The Helpful Content Update Is Rolling Out Now


As I mentioned last week, Google’s new Helpful Content Update (HCU) is a machine-learning-based algorithm update designed to weed out website content that is written merely to appeal to search engines and offers little value to users. The update was projected to go live several days after Google’s announcement on August 18. Reports now tell us that the update began rolling out in the early morning hours of Thursday, August 25. It may take one to two weeks for HCU to fully roll out. SEOs have been watching nervously for signs of disruption in web rankings, but there has been evidence of the impact so far. Google’s recommendations over the last several years have stated that website content should be written by authorities in the subject and should provide real value to users. Presumably, content creators who have already made a point of adhering to Google’s recommendations will benefit from HCU, and those who have instead focused on gaming the system — chasing trending keywords, writing about too many unrelated topics, republishing the work of others, and so on — will be penalized. 


TikTok Is Testing a “Nearby” Feed


Hot on the heels of the news that TikTok has become a favored platform for local search and discovery amongst Gen Z users, we now hear that TikTok is testing a “Nearby” feed which displays content from users in your vicinity. The new feed is being tested with TikTok users in Southeast Asia. On the homepage, users who see the update will now have access to a Nearby tab next to For You and Following — meaning that, if the test becomes a permanent feature, nearby content will occupy a prominent position in the app. 


Alongside the Nearby feed, TikTok is testing the ability to tag videos with the user’s location. It’s unclear whether the Nearby feed only includes content with location tags. 


In TechCrunch’s writeup of the news, Aisha Malik speculates that the Nearby feed could help TikTok further encroach on the market share of Google and other local search providers, offering a customized feed of local content that can be saved for future reference. The feed could also open the door to local advertisers on the platform. 


An image highlighting the "nearby" feed on the TikTok app


Courtesy TechCrunch / Brendan Gahan


Nextdoor Announces 2022 Neighborhood Favorites


In its continued effort to highlight local businesses on the platform, Nextdoor has announced the winners of its sixth annual Neighborhood Favorites awards. Neighborhood Favorites are designated by Nextdoor users, who can recommend local businesses with actively managed Nextdoor profiles. This year, the most popular categories among Neighborhood Favorites were home service providers, sit-down restaurants, pet care, and pizza places. 


Nextdoor suggests that to become a Neighborhood Favorite, local businesses should focus on providing excellent service, creating offerings that differentiate them from the competition, and striving for repeat business. The company reports that businesses have accumulated 55 million recommendations from Nextdoor users, and that 72% of users have been influenced by a business recommendation.


GBP Testing Photo Captions


Google appears to be testing captions for photos uploaded to Google Business Profiles, as reported by at least one user who was able to add captions to photos of up to 80 characters in length. The appearance of this feature is odd, given that Google has previously reported it had no plans to support photo captions. But if captions do become widely available, they will offer users the opportunity to provide further signals to Google and to profile visitors for how photo content should be understood. Photos are an increasingly important component of Business Profiles, given their prominence in search results and their effectiveness as drivers of conversion. 


An image highlighting a photo caption for Lancaster Dumpster Rentals


Courtesy Search Engine Roundtable / Mike Blumenthal


Reels Reach the Largest Audiences on Instagram


According to analysis by HypeAuditor, Reels have the greatest reach of any content type on Instagram. Reels account for nearly 34% of the audience reached by all content types analyzed in the study. Photos are the most common content type, comprising 42% of all posts studied, and photos are also shown to generate more comments than any other content type. Reels, however, generate more likes than photos do. Longer-form videos, surprisingly, are the worst-performing of all four content types in the study, suggesting a strong bias amongst users, and in Instagram’s algorithm, toward shorter-format Reels. 


A graph showing how different types of content perform on Instagram and their estimated distribution


Courtesy Business of Apps / HypeAuditor



Damian Rollison

With over a decade of local search experience, Damian Rollison, SOCI's Director of Market Insights, has focused his career on discovering innovative ways to help businesses large and small get noticed online. Damian's columns appear frequently at Street Fight, Search Engine Land, and other publications, and he is a frequent speaker at industry conferences such as Localogy, Brand Innovators, State of Search, SMX, and more.

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