When you’re on the hunt for the best pizza in town, a trendy cocktail lounge or a wedding florist who understands your aesthetic, where do you turn? While many of us would answer “Google,” Gen Z is increasingly answering “social.”
Platforms like Instagram and TikTok are now hubs for conducting searches and finding recommendations. In fact, recent studies found that almost 40% of young people don’t go to Google or Maps for recommendations, they open social media. And that number is only growing.
Wondering how Gen Z is using social media for search engines and what brands can do to stay involved? Here’s what you should know.
Gen Z sometimes uses keywords… Whether it’s a keyword like “tacos” or “antiques” or a hashtag like #portland or #pie, many young social users are conducting searches via social media search bars. It’s how I found my wedding photographer last year, and how countless users find the picturesque meals or experiences they’re craving.
…but often discovers content in more natural ways. More often than not, Gen Z turns to TikTok or Instagram “discover” pages for recommendations. These pages are curated to a user’s unique interests and algorithm. Not only are searches easier, they’re more personalized. And in this visual-first society, it’s unsurprising users resonate more with social visuals than Google text listings.
They map their plans, then use maps. The search engine journey looks drastically different than it did just a few years ago. After starting in social, Gen Z might open Google or Maps tabs only once they have their destination in mind. Rather than starting in a search engine and funneling through the journey, they’re turning to navigation only to pick up where social media leaves off.
Search engines are responding with advancements. To compete, search engines are looking into ways to make their experiences more immersive. That could mean incorporating more visuals in search engine results, adding AR components, and even partnering with social media platforms to feature their visual/video results sooner.
It’s an opportunity for brands. Brands should be excited, not concerned, by these numbers. Search engines are tried and true for many demographics and will continue to be relevant, lucrative tools. Gen Z’s habits present an opportunity to further join in the conversation on social media. If your company is at an event, tag the location. If you’ve posted an aesthetic photo, include hashtags and location tags on the image so you’re more likely to pop up in search/discover pages. Keep a pulse on trending hashtags on Instagram and TikTok to see how you can engage in timely topics. Keep your visuals high-quality, bright and appealing — the more engaging they are, the more views they’ll get.
Social media as search engines will continue to evolve as our habits on social platforms change. When shifts happen, we’ll deliver the insights to you. Searching for more of the latest social media news or advertising trends? Find that and more on our Brogan blog.