Is TikTok the New Google?

28th April 2023

TikTok has evolved from being known solely for its viral music and dance videos to a platform featuring a wide variety of content, including cooking, skits, and product reviews. It has become a go-to source of information for many, with some even preferring it over traditional search engines like Google.

Content creators from all backgrounds share their knowledge and experiences on the app, making it a diverse source of information. Additionally, celebrities also post on TikTok, making it an even more engaging platform.

Google’s senior vice president, Prabhakar Raghavan, has even noted:

“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.”


How did TikTok outdo Google?


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TikTok has become a refined search engine for a number of reasons.

Users easily learn through visuals

The younger generation grew up surrounded by visual content from social media. Every day, they see short clips and meaningful photos, use gadgets and software with high-tech visuals, and express themselves through images and videography, which they often call their “aesthetics.” Now, when they look for answers, they expect any search engine to give answers that interest their vision.

Users enjoy the app’s straightforwardness

An uncomplicated search engine is simple enough that even senior people will have no trouble using it. It is much simpler to evaluate which of the results provides the most helpful response to one’s inquiry when the information is not wordy but rather visual.

• Users get the most popular result that aligns with their interest

Google often offers the top result with content that uses SEO tricks, but frequently, the user scrolls down for more because they are not satisfied with the first one. Although TikTok creators also utilise SEO strategies, the TikTok algorithm still works for the user’s interests which are determined by their activities, following, interactions, and more. This attracts the younger generation.

Users only see short-form results

Most people want concise answers right away. Instead of reading too much unnecessary information that Google often provides, they prefer to watch TikTok videos that are not just catchy but can give the answer they’re looking for immediately.


How TikTok urges people to use the app like Google


Amelia Field on Influence Digital has identified several ways that TikTok is encouraging users to use the app as their primary search engine. One such way is through the introduction of Collections, which allows users to organise their favourite videos into categories for easy access in the future. Another way is through the comment search, which allows users to see suggested search terms based on the content of a video by clicking on the blue text with the magnifying glass symbol. Additionally, TikTok has added a new feature called the TikTok Shop, which enables users to go to the page where a product is being sold by clicking a link embedded within the video, making it easier for shops to advertise their products and for users to find products that interest them.


TikTok search results vs. Google search results


TikTok’s search results are confined to its own platform, similar to how search results appear on platforms like Pinterest, Instagram, YouTube, Amazon, and Facebook. This means that TikTok prioritises increasing user engagement on its own platform, rather than directing users to third-party sites. This approach encourages users to discover more content within the app. In contrast, Google’s search results include a wide variety of sources such as websites, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, etc. As discussed, most prefer straightforward, easy-to-understand, and succinct answers to their inquiries, and TikTok’s linear search results align with this preference.


The opportunity for businesses to market their products


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As TikTok becomes more popular as a search engine, businesses can capitalise on this trend by creating short, visually engaging videos to showcase their products and services. By promoting these videos on the platform and tailoring them to the interests of their target audience, businesses can effectively engage with and attract potential customers. TikTok also offers various advertising tools that businesses can easily utilise to reach a larger audience. Businesses can benefit from TikTok as a search engine by creating visually appealing content, and promoting it on the platform in order to reach their target audience effectively.


How effective is TikTok for social media marketing?


TikTok has proven to be a valuable search engine for many users, including journalist David Pierce. In a recent article, he shared his experience of using TikTok as a primary search engine for a few days and found that it provided useful results for his queries. For example, when searching for restaurants in his local area, he found that the results were not sponsored suggestions from other sites, but rather based on personal experiences. This makes TikTok a valuable tool for small businesses looking to venture into social media marketing. With the right strategies, they can increase their discoverability on the platform, as 49% of TikTok users reported that the app helped them make purchasing decisions. As a social media marketing agency in Leicestershire, we believe that TikTok is becoming a powerful tool that businesses can’t afford to ignore.


Key Takeaways


• TikTok’s popularity as a search engine is driven by factors such as its emphasis on visuals, user-friendly interface, results tailored to individual interests, and short, concise answers.

• Businesses can leverage TikTok by creating engaging, visually appealing videos that highlight their products or services and using various strategies to increase their visibility on the platform.

• TikTok is also an effective tool for social media marketing, as users perceive the results they see as unbiased and based on personal experiences, rather than paid advertisements.

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