Gen Z Users download TikTok as a search engine

Brand managers are now using TikTok to not only search for trends but in conjuctoin with twitter for searchs.

“I’ll go to TikTok for fashion, food, or culture because I know the user base of the app provides that content, whereas on Twitter I’ll search for the news.” Carter isn’t the only one: Increasingly, young people are using social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram to search for things to do and places to try, even seeking out news and important information, rather than consulting traditional discovery tools like Google Search and Google Maps.

Google’s  own Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president in charge of Google Search, said, “In our studies, something like almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.” He’s referring to a survey of U.S. users, ages 18 to 24. The very same country leads with 150 million active TikTok users with a large base of 10m + influencers.

As someone within that age group, the statistic doesn’t surprise me. Growing up with access to the internet, I’ve learned to customize my experience on the internet. I know where to go for what, and when searching for something hyper-specific sometimes Google Search isn’t always my best friend. But I was curious how other people within Google’s age range searched, so I spoke with 30 of my peers about their online search habits.

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A UK survey found that TikTok is the fastest growing source of news among young adults ages 16 to 24. This obviously raises alarm because of the rampant misinformation on the platform, but TikTok isn’t only being used as a news source.

TikTok has roughly 1.4 billion monthly active users and should surpass 1.8 billion by the end of 2023.

Some of our readers searches TikTok for recipe ideas and travel recommendations, or to seek out instructional how-to videos that are “shorter and more to the point” then what she’d typically find on YouTube.

I found that people are using TikTok similarly to how they use Pinterest. In February of this year TikTok launched a new feature called Collections, essentially copying Pinterest’s defining feature. Collections allows TikTok users to organize their favorited videos into folders. Instagram implemented a similar feature in 2019. The Collections feature allows users to save recommendations and organize them into useful categories, making it easier for users to quickly return to ideas and recommendations.

The Pinterest-esque collection feature on TikTokkers allows users to organize their favorited videos.“I’ll search ‘thrifting in Paris’ or ‘restaurants in Lisbon’ and save the things that look good to a little folder to refer back to. I also have a little recipe folder. [I am a] big fan of the folder feature,”.

How to organize your favorite TikToks into collections

It’s not just that people are searching for suggestions on TikTok. They’re also relying on their individual algorithms to feed them geo-specific recommendations. If you find something you want to try, you can save it to a folder and return to your favorites when you need inspiration for where to go or what to cook.

In talking to my peers, three things came up in nearly every conversation about what people turn to social media for: recipes, restaurants, and travel recommendations.

People are sick of the Google recipe algorithm that prioritizes obscure search engine optimized blogs. It’s been a running joke on the internet that in order to read a recipe you have to get through the blogger’s entire life story, but this is actually deterring the young people I talked to from searching for recipes on Google. Because a TikTok has to quickly grab your attention, recipe videos on the platform are to the point, putting the focus on the food, not the creator.

Tips for creators include to draws the viewer in with her straightforward visual recipes and tidy plating, showing how enticing video recipes can be without someone telling you every single step. It’s a huge draw for many telling “I mainly use TikTok and Instagram to look up recipes as opposed to searching that on Google,”. “It can be a specific search like ‘banana bread’ or [a] general search like, ‘dinner ideas.’ It’s so much easier than searching a recipe on Google and scrolling through a long article.”

“The way recipes are done on webpages annoys me a lot. You have to scroll through so much stuff to get to the actual recipes,”. Similarly, the workouts she finds on the app “aren’t too complicated” to try at home. “The workouts on TikTok are workouts I’d actually want to do.”

In a TikTok, you can immediately see what a restaurant looks like and see the person recommending it. It allows for maximum vibe reconnaissance. Additionally, if someone made a TikTok on it, and it came up on your FYP, chances are it’s something you’ll actually enjoy and the information is up to date. Since the pandemic began it’s hard to know what information on Google Search is current. Several times I’ve found a restaurant through Google Search only to later discover that it’s since gone out of business.

Ella Boyce, a 23 year-old who has spent the past year traveling in South America and Europe, relies on TikTok and Instagram for travel recommendations. “A lot of blogs aren’t designed for phones, so it’s hard to read, and there’s no centralized fount to crowd source info; it’s all random decentralized blogs from Google,” Boyce explained. “It’s harder to tell someone’s credibility from an article than from a video because you can see the person.”

So the next time you’re looking for travel inspiration or a place to grab a slice of pizza, you might find what you’re searching for on TikTok.

Author Profile

Lee Clarke
Lee Clarke
Business And Features Writer


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