TikTok has been spotted testing a new search feature, which raises questions about its viability as a search engine.
Interestingly, many people are already using it as one device.
According to screenshots shared on Twitter, TikTok has started showing suggested search terms when viewing the comments section of a video.
– Jonah Manzano (@jonah_manzano) June 1, 2022
To find out more about this feature, I scoured Twitter to see if anyone else was talking about it.
Ultimately, I wanted to answer the question:What if people started using TikTok as a search engine?“
Instead, I discovered a whole segment of people are treating TikTok as a search provider, some even preferring it to Google.
The question soon turned fromwhat if‘l’What now?“
We’re past the point of questioning whether TikTok has potential as a search platform. Users are increasingly deciding and turning to TikTok for their information needs.
But what are the implications for digital marketers?
TikTok proves to be a better search engine than Google
The above headline is a quote from a viral tweet from last month.
I’m not even kidding but TikTok has proven to be a better search engine than Google these days
– KA (@ikeko__) May 30, 2022
It’s unclear if the tweet received more than 110,000 likes and 14,000 retweets because of the bold comparison between TikTok and Google, or because people agree with the statement.
The quoted replies and tweets suggest it’s a combination of the two. Here’s a look at what people are saying.
Why do people use TikTok as a search engine?
The increasing use of TikTok as a search engine stems from several factors:
- short attention spans
- Google results are not satisfactory
- Visual learning methods
“We have become lazy. we want visuals,is reading one of Top Responses – Shows how short attention spans contribute to TikTok search popularity.
Another reason why people search for information on non-traditional search engines like TikTok is that they Not satisfied with Google results.
Top reply to viral tweet She suggests The quality of Google results isn’t what it used to be:
“Omg Google was so powerful but so pointless now. Useful results are deeply buried pages. 95% of the answers they put in the drop down menus at the top of the search results were completely wrong, often not related to the question at hand.”
It is also about Learning stylesas some individuals retain information better when presented in visual form.
And while users can get visual and text information on Google, as a single user on Twitter pointing toIt requires looking at several pieces of content to get what you need.
“They give a video explanation and proof all at once, that explains it and breaks it down. Google wants me to click too many links.”
When I went down the rabbit hole of tweet replies, I discovered yet another clue that search preferences are changing.
Paul Allen, CEO of Soar.com and founder of Ancestry.com, ran a LinkedIn poll A few months ago he asked his network if they “know any guys who use TikTok or Instagram Reels as their primary search engine.”
said a quarter of respondents yes.
Arguments against TikTok as a search engine
You’ll get a different perspective if you check out the quote tweets of the viral tweet that started this whole discussion, showing more people are against the idea of TikTok as a search engine than are those who support it.
Due to the colorful language used, I can’t share many negative opinions here. However, it’s safe to speculate that the naysayers are ardent in their beliefs that TikTok search is ill-suited to keeping up with news and current events.
This is because they do not trust TikTok as a source, claiming that the app spreads misinformation. This happens to be a sentiment shared by the majority of US users.
Studies show that Americans trust Google much more than TikTok, which has been found to be the most trusted does not trust tech giant.
The consensus seems to be that TikTok search is better suited to finding tips, directions, recipes, hobbies, and information on less risky topics.
What does TikTok as a search engine mean for digital marketers?
The shift towards TikTok as a search engine is worth considering if you work with social media.
TikTok is quickly becoming a threat to other social media sites, and even to Google.
In late 2021, TikTok topped Google as the most popular domain. In the first quarter of 2022, TikTok was the most downloaded app worldwide across all categories.
The tech giants are aware of the threat TikTok poses and are responding by doubling down on short video.
Google is publishing Web Stories and YouTube Shorts, while Meta is making Reels an integral part of Facebook and Instagram.
Short video is enjoying a renaissance across the web, and it’s not just TikTok where people go looking for it. On YouTube, which is also often used as a search engine, short videos now have 30 billion views per day.
For marketers, it’s time to consider responding to the demand for short video by adding it to your content strategy.
The demand for TikTok-like content isn’t about to slow down anytime soon, and support for the format from Google and other tech giants is at an all-time high.
Now is the time to branch out and get in front of new customers by diversifying your content output.
Insights from SEJ experts
I reached out to industry experts on the Search Engine Journal team for their vision of TikTok as a search engine, since it’s not the first time this has happened to a social media site.
I asked Brent Csutoras, managing partner: What, if anything, should be done in response to this paradigm shift?
“As a marketer, part of your job is to find where people tell stories that impact your target audience,” he explained. “Learn how effective storytelling can be on that platform, and then share your own stories in a way that your new audience will respect, accept, and ultimately engage with.”
Csutoras continued, “We’ve seen aggregators become search engines over the years, from the days of Delicious, over the years with Reddit and YouTube, and now with TikTok. Any place where users start looking for content through search on a regular basis is a place to pay attention.” marketers to it and participate in it, as long as they have a meaningful story to tell that audience.”
No matter how you feel about people searching on TikTok, they do, and some even use it instead of Google.
So if that’s where your audience is going, that’s where you need to be.
This does not mean that you need to give up on the content you are currently creating. Instead, consider how you can make that content discoverable on TikTok.
One approach that many publishers take is to retarget traditional content; For example, adapting web articles for short videos.
People searching for this topic on TikTok will find the video, and if they want to know more of what can be communicated in a short clip, they will visit the publisher’s website.
As Csutoras said: It is no different from the evolution of social networks in the past. It’s just a different medium.
Featured image: Diego Thomazini/Shutterstock