Snap Map, which debuted yesterday, is an entirely new feature on Snapchat that shows you where your friends are and where the most Snaps are coming from at any given moment -- on a map and in real time.
"We've built a whole new way to explore the world! See what's happening, find your friends, and get inspired to go on an adventure!" Snap wrote on its blog.
If users choose to publicly share their location, their Snaps are then plotted on a heat map, using spots of color like the ones reserved for weather forecasts. The more red a location is, the more Snaps there are coming from that spot. Users could click on the map to view their friends' Snap from a nearby concert, for example. The map also highlights local events and attractions using thumbnails.
Geolocation on social media platforms isn't a new concept, especially for Snapchat, where users commonly use geofilters to show their friends where they are. But Snap Map turns our social media habits on its head. Instead of using social to share where you are, you can now use Snap Map to discover where you want to go.
On a grander scale, you can use it to transport yourself around the world to discover other cultures. Tap into Amman, Jordan, and you'll find friends and family doing the traditional dabkeh dance. Tap into Mumbai, and you'll see street food vendors making delicious chaat. It's a new way to build empathy for cultures and current events that once seemed so distant.
On a local scale, you can easily discover events nearby. If you are in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, today, you'll see where the latest Trump rally is happening. In Dublin, Ireland, there's a Justin Bieber concert. In Ocean Beach, San Diego, you can find the local farmers' market today.
While the new feature is a big win for Snapchat users, the real winners in the near future might be local businesses. It's likely that Snapchat could easily monetize the new feature by allowing local businesses to pay for visibility on the map. This could prove to be a serious ROI for local businesses -- a 2014 study by Google found that 50 percent of consumers who searched for a business on their phone visited a store the same day.
There is massive potential for this new feature to shift our behavior on social platforms, grow foot traffic in local businesses, and create new revenue streams for Snapchat. It would be no surprise if other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter follow suit.