Is TikTok The New Google?
There’s no doubt that Google is a powerhouse when it comes to online search. But could another company soon take its place? TikTok, a social media app that is especially popular with young people, is growing in popularity, boasts over a billion monthly active users, and could very well become the next big thing when it comes to informative information sources. In this blog post, we’ll take a closer look at what makes TikTok so unique and why it might be poised to overtake Google as the top search engine.
When it comes to social media, there have been very few platforms that have experienced such explosive growth in popularity as TikTok. With over a billion monthly active users, it’s no wonder why this app is quickly becoming a go-to source for information. TikTok is popular because it is an easy and fun way to share short videos of yourself with friends and followers. The app is simple to use and has a variety of filters and editing tools that allow you to create videos that are both creative and funny. Additionally, TikTok is a great way to discover new music and learn about current events. Here are just a few of the reasons why TikTok has supposedly become so popular:
1. Its User-Friendly Interface
One of the reasons that TikTok is so popular is its user-friendly interface. The app is simple to use, making it easy for people of all ages to navigate. This accessibility is one of the reasons why the app has become so popular with young people.
2. It Offers a Variety of Content Types
TikTok offers a variety of content types, including short videos, GIFs, and challenges. This variety keeps users engaged and coming back for more.
3. It’s Fun and Engaging
TikTok is fun and engaging, which keeps users hooked on the platform. The app’s mix of entertainment and information makes it unique and appealing to users around the world.
But is that actually the real reason? And if so, entertainment and ease of use can’t be the primary reason for certain groups of people using TikTok more often than Google. So why is it? Well, there are a few possible explanations for why some people may be using TikTok more often than Google which we will discuss below
At the end of the day, contemporary users want to get information quickly, we have become so spoilt in our ability to access information that our attention spans have become increasingly shorter and people have become less willing to work to attain information. 60-second TikTok videos use this to their advantage and have actually started to compound this issue.
Some individuals may be using TikTok more often than Google because they are dissatisfied with the quality of Google’s search results. First and foremost, the search engine forces them to sit through advertisements, and it’s possible that this is just no longer acceptable. Also, it’s often the SEO or online specialists that carefully curate the appearance of products and services in search engines, who nearly always have a vested interest in the success of those products or services. By contrast, TikTok provides direct and fast access to content from creators who have first-hand experience with these products or services or may have hands-on knowledge that makes their content appear more genuine or unbias.
As TikTok is more focused on personalization and content discovery, its “For You” page showcases videos that the user may be interested in. This is done by taking into account the user’s engagement – for example, how long they linger on specific videos, or how much they like or comment on them. In contrast, Google uses its system of ranking factors and understanding search intent to personalize its results for users. While this personalization is detailed, it isn’t as in-depth as on TikTok.
According to data from Serpstat, individuals are searching Google for queries like:
- how to share TikTok on Instagram story
- how to make 3 min TikTok
- what hashtags get you the most likes on TikTok
- what is the most viral TikTok
- how to get TikTok
In order to ascertain whether TikTok could truly replace Google, it’s worth delving a bit deeper into the opportunities that TikTok creates around searching for information.
How Does TikTok’s Algorithm work?
The TikTok algorithm is designed to surface the most relevant and interesting content to users. It takes into account a variety of factors, including the number of likes and shares a video has, as well as how recently it was uploaded. This means that videos that are popular and have been shared by a lot of people are more likely to be shown to other users on the app.
Seemingly, whether an individual uses Google or TikTok to search for information lies heavily on the type of information they are searching for. In a recent Serpstat study they found that content based on entertainment, education and product reviews tended to do better on TikTok search than news-based content. However, this may also be affected by the younger audience demographic, who TBF, probably give less of an F about current affairs and are less likely to engage with news-based content in general… speaking from past experience.
When it comes to the previously mentioned categories, here’s the type of content TikTok is offering:
- Entertainment: Trending Sounds, TikTok Challenges, Lip-sync Videos
- Educational: Lifehacks, How-To Content, Coding, Marketing, Self-Improvement
- Product Reviews: Tutorials, Testimonials
- Informational: Fashion Tips, Fitness Tips, Things To Do, Places To Go
- News: Fashion Trends, Beauty Trends, Tech Trends
- User Search: Influencers Search
By simply typing “how to” into the search we can see the list of proposed questions, thus we can get a sense of what types of requests are frequently asked on TikTok. Just try it for yourself. They are not exactly noble prize-winning searches. I don’t think there are too many revelationary pieces of content to be found there but nonetheless, there is a growing demographic of people using the platform to search for particular content.
TikTok Vs Google
According to a Serpstat study, the benefits of searching for information through TikTok really came down to one main point.
The information is video based and is short-form and quick to digest.
The disadvantages of using TikTok to find information being
A lot of entertaining garbage and a lack of versatility as the content is all short-form video
Ultimately content creators want to create longer and more meaningful evergreen content that actually enriches the lives of their audience and TikTok has not really been designed for this. TikTok has to find a way to encourage people to create searchable content if it wants to become as successful as Google for information search.
A frequent problem associated with insufficient verification of facts on TikTok and misinformation is that the service perceives fake information, including incorrect data, as trustworthy and credible.
However, TikTok is working on improving its algorithms, such as removing nearly 700,000 videos yearly, including election misinformation, disinformation, and manipulated media. But that in itself opens up a whole other dialogue around the centralized censorship of the media online but let’s save that for another day. However, it’s fair to assume that we will see one of the main trends being related to visual search and the shift to more diverse formats.
If we take a look at the same data for using Google search we can see a very different picture
It’s clear to see that Google is still the undisputed champ and the go-to place when searching for information. The majority of respondents saw no negative aspects to using Google search. And many of the issues raised are relatively subjective. I know I personally would prefer to use Google search for discovering information. I think most would find it pretty easy to see the advantages of Google and at the same time find it more challenging to highlight the disadvantages. However as attention spans continue to shrink and consumer focus shifts towards more creative visual-based content, there is a potential for TikTok to eat further into Google’s share of attention.
Based on Serpstat’s study of TikTok users, it is clear that the platform is still very much seen as a way to have fun. However, the seemingly growing aspects around learning and searching information present a case for TikTok’s potential to compete more strongly with Google and YouTube in years to come.
Whilst each method has both advantages and disadvantages, TikTok probably only performs better for search queries where short-form user generate content is preferable.
So could TikTok replace Google? Not anytime soon anyway. However, it will continue to eat into the share of attention around low involvement short form video-based content, especially in the younger demographics.
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