If you had any doubts before, TikTok as a search engine is here to stay. TikTok's journey from a video-sharing app to a search engine is nothing short of remarkable. This transformation has been driven by several factors, including its rapidly growing user base, a diverse range of content creators, and its algorithm's ability to serve relevant content to users.
For marketers and recruiters, these developments present unique opportunities.
The impact of TikTok on marketing strategies
The ascent of the TikTok search engine underscores the rapid evolution of technology. More notably, the transformation in the ways people acquire and consume information.
Among Gen Z, it has become the top social platform, surpassing Instagram and Snapchat. Despite its predominantly youthful user base, the platform extends beyond memes and dances. TikTok now serves as a hub for educational content, culinary recipes, and other tips, mirroring the content variety seen on Google, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube.
TikTok has successfully transitioned into a platform not only for entertainment but also for education. The emergence of educators and professionals utilizing TikTok to simplify exemplifies the shift toward educational content.
But why is TikTok so popular with Gen Z?
The million-dollar question: What makes TikTok so popular with Gen Z? Well, it’s a lot of things:
- Craving for Community: It's widely acknowledged that Gen Z faces challenges in finding a genuine sense of community. Growing up in an era where smartphones and social media are ubiquitous, they have been on a quest for meaningful connections. TikTok has emerged as a platform where they can foster these connections.
- Emphasis on Entertainment: Gen Z places significant importance on entertainment. They are willing to listen to their favorite music, engage in virtual dances with strangers, or create humorous videos just to bring joy to others. These instances underscore Gen Z's inclination toward entertainment.
- Simplicity and Authenticity: Gen Z rejects contrived content. TikTok thrives on spontaneity, trend participation, authenticity, and the freedom to showcase one's true self. Gen Z resonates deeply with these values.
- Reshaping the Social Media Landscape: Gen Z is poised to redefine the social media landscape we are familiar with, and TikTok stands as an emblematic case study illustrating this transformation.
What does this mean for recruiters?
For the time being, businesses need not overhaul their search strategies. However, Google may seek to incorporate some elements from TikTok into its approach, as evidenced by recent features aimed at expediting searches and providing more visual results.
Until TikTok can serve as a comprehensive information hub, and creators can better understand search intent and user queries compared to Google, the platform will face challenges in dethroning Google as the leading search engine. Recruiters should keep an eye on TikTok's potential but rely on Google's established capabilities for reliable and comprehensive searches.
Google has honed its algorithm over two decades, earning a reputation as a more dependable source compared to TikTok. Google also excels in swiftly retrieving information and continually strives to enhance its performance to keep pace with competitors. Despite the interface's minimal changes since the 1990s, the underlying technology constantly evolves to cater to user needs.
If TikTok's search engine were to gain ground, it's likely that Google would adapt its algorithm to stay competitive. As long as Google maintains user satisfaction and delivers value in response to search intent, it will continue to hold its position as the top search engine.
Is TikTok a reliable source of news and information?
A challenge associated with obtaining news from social media platforms revolves around the reliability of the information shared. Despite imposing limitations on political messaging and establishing itself as a news outlet, TikTok lacks effective safeguards against the spread of false political information.
According to a recent investigation conducted by NewsGuard, approximately 20% of videos retrieved through a TikTok search contained misleading content. The platform has encountered difficulties in curbing the dissemination of misinformation on subjects such as the Ukraine conflict, elections, and the COVID-19 pandemic.
Conversely, TikTok serves as a notable example of mobile journalism, offering an efficient means of sharing real-time news updates.
An illustrative case is the Johnny Depp vs. Amber Heard trial. TikTok served as a central hub for individuals interested in staying informed about the proceedings. The platform's “For You” page featured live streams of the trial, creators offering their reactions and insights, and mainstream news outlets contributing to the conversation. TikTok essentially functioned as a 24-hour rolling news channel dedicated to the trial, dominating discussions for its entire duration.
What is Google doing about it?
Google has actively acknowledged the influence of social media, particularly platforms like TikTok and Instagram, by enhancing its search results with content from these sources.
These integrations, established a couple of years ago, entail the inclusion of videos from both TikTok and Instagram in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Before this update, only YouTube videos were featured in Google's SERPs, leading to concerns about potential internal bias due to Google's ownership of YouTube.
Given the significant rise in short-form video content, Google couldn't overlook this trend and eventually incorporated Instagram Reels, videos, and TikTok content into its search engine in 2021.
When it comes to TikTok videos as SERP features, they are prominently displayed at the top of Google's SERP, featuring a cover image that, when clicked, redirects users to the respective TikTok video. In cases where users search by a TikTok account's name, Google showcases a selection of videos associated with that creator, accompanied by a meta description highlighting the account's handle and follower count.
As social media continues to reshape the digital landscape, Google's strategic integration of TikTok and Instagram content serves as a testament to the dynamic nature of the online ecosystem, offering users a more comprehensive and engaging search experience.
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