A New Way to Search

October 17th, 2022 by

At this point, it’s impossible to deny the dominance social media has over consumers. While it has long been recognised as a key communication tool for users—particularly Gen Z and Millennials—it has transcended this function to become a source of entertainment and inspiration. 

Over the past couple of years, we have seen the social media landscape shift to favour content over connection, driven by developing algorithms and a shift in user demand. With the rise of visual platforms and video content, social media users have been presented with more valuable, informative content in a bite-sized format. As a result, we have seen a shift that can only be described as the “TikTok-ification” of the internet. 

TikTok has well and truly carved its own space within the social media landscape. Amassing over 1 billion monthly active users in just a couple of years, it’s been a powerful tool for brands, creators, and consumers alike. When it comes to purchasing inspiration, TikTok is unmatched. 

The #TikTokMadeMeBuyIt hashtag has over 25.5 billion views. Gen Z specifically is more likely to use social media to discover new brands and products, rather than using search engines. However, this has gone one step further. 

A New Way to Search

According to Google, around 40% of Gen Z have left behind Google Maps or Search, and are using platforms like TikTok and Instagram in their stead. 

A survey in the UK found that TikTok is the fastest growing news source among Gen Z. The main reasoning behind this is that TikTok content is short and to the point. Using Google Search or YouTube, users are often presented with a long, convoluted story behind a recipe or restaurant—young people don’t have the attention span or regard for this. 

When using TikTok, users are able to easily find the answer to a question. While TikTok’s general search function isn’t the easiest to use, the platform uses its own SEO keywording to help users find content and be discovered—TikTok recently increased its caption character count to 2,200 from the previous 300. The increase in word count allows users to use more keywords their target audience is searching for within their captions, and will make search results more accurate.

Another reason the younger generation is stepping away from Google Search is due to the sheer amount of ads we are now presented with. When searching in Google, you’re first presented with the top four placements businesses have paid for—even if they aren’t relevant to your search. When you eventually find an article of use, you then have to battle your way through pop-up windows, top banner ads, side banner ads, page footer ads, and the list goes on. 

It’s not a pleasant experience. 

Obviously, we understand these websites offering free information need to earn revenue. However, it has left something to be desired for an enjoyable user experience. 

When using TikTok for search, users are not only presented with content from their search query, but the (impressive) TikTok algorithm also takes into consideration a user’s habits, presenting them with even more relevant content. Sure, there are ads when scrolling through results, but these can be ignored with the swipe of a thumb. 

Even considering this, Google isn’t going down without a fight. The search giant has recently implemented new ways to deliver what users are searching for, but visually. 

Users have been able to execute a search by taking a photo or image since 2017 when Google introduced Lens. Now, it’s taken this one step further with multisearch. 

A New Way to Search 2

With multisearch, users can ask a question about an object in front of them, and refine the search by colour, brand or visual attribute. To take this a step further, Google is also introducing a “multisearch near me” option, which allows users to take a photo of an unfamiliar item, and find a local place nearby where the item is available. 

In addition to this, Google has introduced an “immersive view” within Maps. This new viewing experience allows users to remotely step into a location, and scan around as if they were there in real life. The experience can predict what the weather and business of a location will be tomorrow, next week, or even next month.

These new additions to Google are great and make deeper searches much easier. But, it doesn’t help with coming up with an initial idea. TikTok offers users an abundance of local restaurants, recipes and travel tips in a couple of taps. 

While many young people are taking to TikTok for ideas, Google isn’t actually under any form of threat. Its search function is incomparable, even if there’s a bunch of ads to work through. In another bite back, the search engine has even begun creating TikTok In-Feed Ads to promote its search services. 

Genius or desperate?

@elll.rose #Ad Here’s how Google can help you #FindThatThing ♬ Sunrise – Official Sound Studio

Still, next time you’re looking for the best burrito bar near you or the best weekend events in a particular city, you’ll find what you’re looking for on TikTok. 

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