Originally designed as a means to connect with friends and family, social media has undergone a significant evolution, with search now occupying a central role.
With the average person spending 7.5 hours on social media platforms each week, people are now utilising it not only to connect with friends and family, but also to search brands, products, and influencers. This makes social search the latest iteration of the search engine.
A 2023 report discovered that the majority of consumers use social media platforms as a search tool, and numerous sources have reported intriguing—perhaps even predictable—trends in this area.
Trends in social media search performance
Were you aware that 40% of young individuals now favour Instagram and TikTok over Google to find new products? Here are a few more statistics that may give even the most sceptic something to think about:
- 59% of the global population uses social media for about 2.5 hours a day
- 83% of Instagram users use the platform to find new products and services
- Facebook averages more than 2 billion searches each day
- YouTube is the second most popular search engine behind Google
As a growing number of users use social media platforms to find new brands and experiences, these platforms will continue to transform into powerful search engines that can help brands position themselves for effective customer engagement in the digital age.
Why are people using social media instead of search engines?
Social media has undergone a revolution and the result is that these platforms are teeming with networks tailored to every interest and purpose. This is one of the reasons why searching on social media networks is quicker and easier than using traditional search engines like Google or Bing.
This transition from traditional search engines to social search can be seen on almost every major social media platform. Here are a few examples you may have personally experienced:
- Using Twitter to find a news program or TV show
- Exploring Pinterest to find home decor ideas
- Using Yelp to find the best restaurants in your area
- Engaging with Facebook’s ‘Trending’ section to explore posts related to your interest
One of the platforms that has seen the most uptick in this regard is TikTok. The short-form vertical video platform shows recommended search terms in the comments section of videos. These terms are clickable and take you to a page where you can find an array of related terms. Using the search bar is also a great option to preview the other ‘trending’ search terms.
Is Google still relevant?
While social media platforms have been used more and more as search engines, search engines like Google are far from being obsolete simply because of how versatile and powerful they are.
That’s not all. An independent study recently uncovered that there are differences in the types of searches that are done on Google and social media platforms. It revealed that when it comes to retail products such as jewellery, homeware, and apparel, people preferred Instagram and TikTok while Google was the popular search option for more professional advice.
But, just because you’re in the field of finance or other professional services doesn’t mean that social media is pointless. It’s all about which platform offers the best and most trusted answer to the question you’re asking.
The truth is that every platform, whether it’s Google or IG, has something to offer everyone. Users can find answers to their most pressing questions on a variety of platforms while businesses can secure more leads by reaching a wider and more diverse audience. After all, you never know which demography could surprise you as a potential consumer of your product or service.
What does the latest social media search performance mean for digital marketers?
It’s clear that social media platforms are slowly but surely encroaching on a space that traditional search engines have owned over the years. Today social media platforms are already competing with search engines.
But, with social media and search engines starting to depend on each other, the opportunity exists for both to work together and grow the process of lead generation.
While there is a growing number of people scouring social media for clothing, shoes, and more, they are still using Google or apps to make final purchases as IG and TikTok shops on social media are yet to take off.
So, while social media management teams and digital marketers are eager to take advantage of these emerging trends in social media search, traditional search shouldn’t be ignored since both still have an important part to play in the modern digital marketing landscape.