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4 April 2024

Social Search: How TikTok Has Become a Powerful Search Engine

Notice a shift in search behaviour? Sophie Hancox explains how TikTok is now the go-to search engine for Gen Z and Millennials, and how it's transforming search behaviour and influencing Google searches.
Social Search: How TikTok Has Become a Powerful Search Engine

It wasn’t so long ago that search and social were two very different things. Our go-to place to discover information and answers to questions was Google and social media was there to keep us entertained. However, today, the lines are blurring between the two and the digital landscape is undergoing a rapid transformation – social is becoming the new search.

In particular, TikTok has emerged as the search engine of choice among young people. Last year, the New York Times hailed the channel as ‘the new search engine for Gen Z’. More recently, a study by Adobe (2024) found that 1 in 10 Gen Zers preferred the video-sharing platform to Google for search results. Whether it was looking for new recipes, music recommendations, product reviews, or DIY tips, 64% of Gen Z and 49% of Millennials have used TikTok as a search engine.

Why the Shift in Search Behaviour?

One of the key reasons users favour TikTok as a search engine is it’s deemed trustworthy. The combination of the channel’s innovative algorithm (which offers a highly personalised experience), and the heaps of user-generated content available, means the videos are perceived as authentic. So much more so than the optimised websites and ads that appear at the top of Google.

TikTok offers bite-sized, easy-to-digest, video content on almost every topic. In fact, 44% of users claim short-form video is more informative and a lot more entertaining than scrolling through search results. Even users who aren’t predominantly ‘social searchers’ can be exposed to TikTok content as it can be indexed by search engines to appear in their results.

Unique, story-style content from real users is seen as genuine and transparent. And when transparency is such a hot topic in the digital world, it’s easy to see why social searching has become so popular.

How TikTok is Driving Transformation

TikTok is immersive and it encourages searches within its platform. The social media giant inspires further searches as well as providing answers to them – tapping the TikTok search bar at the bottom of videos brings users to a whole host of related videos. For instance, a user who initially searched for ‘summer outfits’ will then be shown suggestions for ‘top summer holiday destinations’, and so a ‘search-inspired-search’ cycle begins.

However, data also shows that TikTok inspires Google searches. TikTok may be the first place that younger users go to find out about products, but many of those then travel to Google to complete a purchase. Data from Google has recorded spikes in searches from trending TikTok items and influencer-led campaigns. After Game of Thrones stars discussing ‘Negroni Sbagliato’ became a trending sound, the drinks company received 501% increase in Google searches. The #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag is also full of users talking about how they saw an item on TiKTok and then bought it elsewhere.

It's safe to say, Google isn’t going anywhere yet. But if you’re looking to build meaningful connections with a younger audience then TikTok shouldn’t be ignored. The way users consume information online is changing and with that comes a heap of exciting new opportunities to grow trust and engagement.


Need a TikTok Strategy? Optix Can Help!

TikTok – the discovery tool that delivers hyper-relevant content - has redefined the way users search online. Our team of experts can develop a social media strategy to help you make the most of the ever-evolving digital landscape and this change in search behaviour. We can also help if you need to create more SEO-focused socials.

So, if you’re looking to take your marketing efforts to the next level we’d love to hear from you – please get in touch or pop in and see us sometime!  

Optix Solutions
4 April 2024
Optix Solutions
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