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Why Gen Z Prefers TikTok Over Google as a Search Engine

By: Viral Nation | 5 mins read |
How many times a day do you say “google it”? Heads up, that phrase might be starting to change soon. Although the term "googling" is often a synonym for "searching for something online," things are about to shake up, thanks to the Gen Z crowd. According to Google's internal data, about 40% of Gen Z’s prefer TikTok over Google when searching for something online. Why? Because Gen Z’s are tired of being forced to sift through advertisements to find exactly what they’re looking for. According to social media consultant and founder of the Gen Z focus group, Adrienne Sheares, young users often say that they don't have a long attention span when searching for information online.  TikTok, on the other hand, provides a variety of ways to find content quickly; making it extremely appealing to younger generations. Keep reading to find out why Gen Z now prefers TikTok over Google as a search engine. 

TikTok's algorithm pushes personalized, relevant content

Looking for a recommendation for a new coffee shop or a new recipe? Would you rather Google it and read through the blogger’s life story before seeing the recipe or quickly go to TikTok to watch a 15-second video on how to make the new dish? Yeah, we’d choose the latter too. TikTok's algorithm provides users with the most relevant and personalized content based on their interactions with the videos they have previously watched. This is the biggest reason why it has become one of the most popular platforms for young people to find information. Sheares noted that Gen Z users prefer using TikTok because of different features, including the For You Page (FYP), the search function and the use of video.  When using the FYP, users are more likely to find the content they like, instead of having to look for something specific. The app pushes specific videos based on various factors, such as the length of time the user lingered on a particular video and the type of comment or image they liked. The user-centric algorithm is a big reason younger users prefer TikTok, it’s personalized and curated to their interests. Considering the capabilities of the FYP, the likelihood of the results of a search being relevant is very high. Why wouldn’t you use TikTok to search? The app already knows your top interests, so if you search for something specific, it will automatically push relevant information to you. Another TikTok feature that makes it easy to search? Its videos. The use of video in TikTok's search results is very appealing to Gen Z users, giving them a more comprehensive view of the information they are looking for. Oh, the power of videos! Would you rather read lengthy reviews of a new product or watch someone show you its coolest features and give a live review?  Remember, it’s all about being entertaining in a world centered around convenience. People don’t have time or the attention span anymore to read countless articles about the same product. A video is easier to consume and is more entertaining than scrolling through written reviews from random people. It’s more relatable and allows the viewer to connect with the person creating the video. The increasing popularity of video and images in online searches is expected to continue. In May, Google introduced a new feature called Multisearch, which allows users to combine photos and text in their searches. Even Google has realized the power of video and images.

TikTok as Gen Z's learning platform

Despite being widely assumed to only be a platform for viral trends, TikTok has successfully positioned itself as a learning platform for the younger generation. TikTok was designed to make it easy for experts to share their knowledge and connect with a given audience. It has created thousands of micro-communities dedicated to any subject you can think of. Gardening, digital marketing tips, DIY projects, pranks, beauty routines…the list is endless. TikTok users love interacting directly with content creators, who often answer questions and provide helpful advice. Instead of reading those lengthy reviews we already spoke about, users can engage with content creators to really understand product features before making a purchase. Becoming aware of a product or brand and researching the ins and outs of it can all be done within one TikTok video. A much more fun and entertaining way to begin the customer-buyer journey process.  Not only has the app alone created thousands of small communities, but top creators have created a following based on similar interests. When it comes to Community Generated Entertainment, TikTok boasts a large range of communities that spans a massive array of demographic profiles, interests, and locations. The algorithm on the platform supports this, since it’s based on a content graph (mutual interests), while most other platforms would use a social graph (mutual following). This makes targeting your specific markets easier. Pairing the knowledge-sharing content strategy with content graph targeting would increase the visibility of your brand on this platform.

TikTok search shifts the landscape for digital marketers

The rise of short-form videos has tremendous implications for digital marketing. As the largest consumer group in the country, Gen Z will become even more influential than they already seem to be. Brands that want to capture their potential market must cater heavily to this demographic. That’s why major tech companies are trying to keep up and have introduced new features that allow creators to create and distribute videos. Google introduced a web-based version of the format called Web Stories. YouTube also launched a new feature that allows content creators to create and distribute short-form videos, called YouTube Shorts. TikTok has had a significant impact on cultural change and business. If digital marketers cannot adapt to the changing business landscape, they will fall behind the curve. The point of digital marketing is to stay relevant. Gaining and adapting the insight of any new platform, such as TikTok, is important. According to a report from Variety, 75% of TikTok users discovered new music, which propelled many artists to the charts. Many businesses have started using the platform to sell products and services. It has also been reported that hundreds of millions of views have been generated by live events.  You might think this kind of success is short-lived, but TikTok actually offers a longer shelf life of up to 90 days for your content. Most viral content on other social media platforms only lasts an average of an hour.  TIP: Think about introducing a marketing campaign that involves the audience, such as a dance challenge. The message will be repeated over and over - prolonging the echo of such a campaign as it goes viral and more people catch on. One of the most effective ways to expand a brand's reach is by working with a TikTok influencer. This individual will help build a strong and effective social media presence for the company. After you build your own brand’s account on TikTok, an influencer can help boost your existing funnel and increase TikTok's potential. Each influencer has their own community that allows you to expand your reach through them. Most influencers tend to keep up with the trends anyways, so they might bring fresh content ideas when collaborating with your brand. As TikTok continues to grow in popularity, brands must rethink their marketing strategies to remain relevant in an increasingly crowded market. A well-thought-out strategy that keeps Gen Zs at the forefront is the way to go. Now is the time to start building a strong and effective TikTok marketing strategy for your brand.
_About the author
Viral Nation

Viral Nation is a new media innovation group that powers the social ecosystem through integrated solutions that align strategy, talent, media, and technology. As pioneers in the influencer space, Viral Nation is comprised of a full-service creative agency, a creator and athlete-influencer representation agency, and a technology division creating modern marketing solutions for the social media age.