Twitter Tests Location-Based Place Feature

Those who use Twitter may soon see the convergence of location and real-time services on the site. Similar to Google and Facebook, the company is testing a new feature that lets businesses claim their location or "Place." The move could increase the importance of local search and make the tool more valuable to businesses by broadening Twitter's ability to serve up location-based ads and coupons or discounts.

For now, the only claimed location on Twitter is Twitter HQ. The interactive map allows you to zoom in or out, and to see all tweets or just tweets with links. The content also expands into a larger view in Google Maps. Location-based check-ins would allow Twitter to not only serve up ads on the map, but directly send any related marketing material to the consumer's phone in the form of a personalized tweet.

While the number of consumers using location-based services remains small, the tool is valuable and powerful. Only 4% of online adults actually use location-based check-in services from services like Foursquare and Gowalla, according to a report from the Pew Internet and American Life Project.

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The Pew findings suggest that only 7% of adults who go online with their mobile phone use a location-based service, and 8% of online adults ages 18-29 use location-based services significantly more than online adults in any other age group. Ten percent of online Hispanics use these services, compared with 3% of whites and 5% of blacks. And, 6% of men use an online location-based service such as Foursquare or Gowalla, compared with 3% of women.

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