Gen Z Prefers TikTok Over Google: Here's How to Use TikTok as a Search Engine

TikTok is Becoming a Powerful Search Engine, and It’s All Thanks to Gen Z!

It’s no secret that Gen Zers love TikTok. With its focus on short-form user-generated content (UGC), the video-first platform skyrocketed in popularity with the younger generation. And now it’s growing into a powerful search engine that’s giving Google a run for its money. 

Nearly 40% of Gen Z prefers using TikTok and Instagram for search over Google.

Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan recently shared that nearly 40% of Gen Z prefers using TikTok and Instagram for search over Google. While Google still dominates the search engine landscape, TikTok isn’t far behind. It’s Gen Z’s platform of choice for all things discovery search. 

Take a minute to open up the app, and you’ll find tons of content from viral beauty products, trending clothing styles, top-rated restaurants in your city, and much more. 

Sure, you could find the same information on Google, but Gen Zers don’t want to read the search results. They want to watch them. 

So what does this mean for brands who want to market to Gen Z

It means they need to start taking TikTok seriously. 

We’ll give you our tips for leveraging TikTok as a search engine. But first, let’s explore why Gen Zers use TikTok for search. 

Why is Gen Z Using TikTok as a Search Engine?

Why is Gen Z using TikTok as a search engine? They have short attention spans, they prefer visuals, and they're unhappy with Google search results.

1. They Have Short Attention Spans

Gen Zers have an attention span of only 8 seconds long! They don’t have the patience to read long paragraphs on Google Search. Instead, they value the short-form videos that TikTok prioritizes.

2. They Prefer Visuals

Gen Z values video because it is entirely visual and undeniably engaging. It’s more appealing to younger consumers to watch videos about something new, like a trending recipe, instead of reading an article. Not to mention, videos are easier to digest and understand.

3. They’re Unhappy with Google Search Results

When you search on Google, your top results will be either a paid advertisement, expertly crafted SEO content or affiliate links. Gen Zers know that the results for ‘best salon near me’ isn’t really the best; it’s just the salon that paid Google for a click. The younger generation doesn’t find the same value in Google Search as TikTok, which delivers more authentic and personalized results. 

Now that we know why Gen Zers are turning to TikTok over Google let’s look at how your brand can start leveraging TikTok as a search engine.

How to Use TikTok as a Search Engine

1. Understand the Algorithm

TikTok differs from Google, and your brand must understand this to succeed on the platform. 

Google’s algorithm focuses on brands. 

As we mentioned above, when you search on Google, your results will be either:

  • Brands that can afford to pay Google for a top ranking
  • Brands that have perfected SEO and follow Google’s rules
  • Affiliate links that charge for visibility and clicks 

TikTok, on the other hand, focuses on users. 

TikTok’s search results are based on the behaviour of other TikTok users that share similar preferences to the person who searched. This makes TikTok a challenge for brands because search results are unpredictable. But that’s precisely what Gen Z finds more authentic and trustworthy about TikTok over Google. 

TikTok’s search results are:

  • more relatable, authentic, and non-curated 
  • highly visually appealing and attractive
  • better to discover new brands, products, or services

Let’s do a comparison for the search term ‘easy dinner ideas’ 

Google vs. TikTok search results for dinner ideas

It’s not hard to see what makes TikTok’s search results more appealing to Gen Z. 

So, to rank on TikTok, your brand needs to put itself in the shoes of a consumer. Focus on creating videos that are authentic, timely and relatable instead of making curated videos to get a #1 ranking. 

2. Use Hashtags to Boost Discoverability

Hashtags aren’t new in social media, but they are effective. If you’re new to using TikTok as a search engine or want to be discovered by a new audience, hashtags are your best bet. To get your videos in front of the right people, use hashtags that are relevant to the content. For example, if your video is a product unboxing, try #unboxing or #productname.  

Seems simple enough, right? But don’t stop there. 

Using popular or general hashtags like #unboxing will get you to show up in relevant search results, but it won’t make you stand out. So, try using a mix of trending hashtags and less popular ones to reach a smaller audience that will likely be more engaged in your content.

For example, on a product unboxing, try using hashtags like your clothing size to reach an audience with similar interests to your content. 

3. Post Consistently & Post Frequently

TikTok’s algorithm favours users who post frequently. So, if you’re serious about using TikTok as a search engine, you must post fresh content multiple times a day. If you’re not, you’ll find it hard to grow your audience and be discovered on TikTok. 

That doesn’t mean you should post just anything, as the quality of content is still an important factor. The idea is to focus on creating quality content in quantity. 

However, creating ongoing video content can be a challenge for brands that aren’t dedicated. But if you put in the effort, you’ll see your video views, likes, and followers start to grow.

Take Advantage of Storytap’s TikTok Integration

StoryTap’s video platform helps brands like yours create and share the authentic video content Gen Zers are searching for on TikTok.

We’ve created a new TikTok integration that allows you to share videos seamlessly from our platform directly to your account. So, if you struggle to create ongoing content, you can use our integration to repurpose your videos on social media. 

Once you’ve synced your video to StoryTap, our platform will start collecting report data and video analytics to track the performance of your videos. So you can see what’s working and what isn’t. 

StoryTap makes it easy to produce, curate and distribute hundreds or even thousands of authentic videos from real people. Connect with our team to learn more about our TikTok integration today!

For more information about Gen Z, download the Generation Video: A Toolkit for Marketers.

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