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TikTok Is Changing How Gen Z Searches

What’s Going On?  

TikTok is currently the fastest growing social network with over 1.39 billion monthly active users worldwide and the most minutes on platform across key demographics. Data show that by the end of 2021, kids and teens were watching an average of 91 minutes of TikTok per day, compared with just 56 minutes per day watching YouTube. Originally seen as an entertainment platform for users 16 to 24 years old, the community has expanded as American adults using the app grew 5.5 times in the last 18 months. And for the first time ever, the time spent by U.S. adults on TikTok has also surpassed U.S. adults’ time on YouTube.  

The ripple effect of TikTok’s popularity cannot be understated: TikTok has reshaped consumer preferences for video content, shifting from long-form, highly produced video to shorter, more organic video clips. Other social platforms have taken note and answered with their own tactics, such as Instagram Reels, YouTube Shorts and Snapchat Spotlight.  

This content evolution has impacted not only how people consume information but also where they search for it.  

When exploring new recipes, travel ideas or product recommendations, Gen Z’s first instinct is to open their favorite social apps instead of a typical search engine. According to Google’s recent internal data, nearly 40% of Gen Z prefer TikTok and Instagram for online search over Google – a staggering statistic, considering the age and origin of the five-year-old video sharing app.  

Why Does It Matter?  

The search and content consumption habits of the next generation should indicate to marketers the need for something deeper and more strategic than format shifts – why do these consumers like the underproduced, natural video format? They crave authenticity. They want to see and hear other people’s experiences with a product or place rather than read about it in articles or online reviews. Data from Sprout Social show 37% of people are more likely to buy from other users based on a product recommendation compared to just 7% who look to celebrity influencers.  

Social platforms can be the single strongest piece of your marketing strategy as they invite brand connection to go deeper than surface-level interactions. TikTok creators, specifically, bring an unmatched level of authenticity that consumers respond to, boosting brand engagement by 95% according to Krystle Watler, Head of Creative Agency Partnerships NA at TikTok. When considering your content collaboration, it is also important to note that social media users will disengage from brands that appear to fake authenticity, so be sure to consider this when selecting a partnership. 

Companies that fail to embrace this new way of marketing could be missing out on an opportunity to increase brand awareness, strengthen community and sell more products or services in a way that is uniquely authentic to a brand’s true, unedited voice. 

What Should Brands Be Doing About It? (How Do They Win?) 

Developing a strategy and presence on an additional platform is a large undertaking for any brand, but TikTok’s rise in popularity among willing-to-engage consumers may mean it is worth the investment for your brand. So where should you start? 

  1. Reserve your handle: First, it is important to reserve your brand’s handle as soon as possible. This will make for a smooth transition if you decide to pursue TikTok.  
  1. Find your audience: TikTok has thousands of affinity groups and diverse creators that span every interest and genre. Check your vertical by looking for relevant hashtags, content creators and opportunities to collaborate. When determining if TikTok was a viable option for a financial consulting client, we researched and discovered a large audience of users actively seeking information around tax, audit and consulting careers. The hashtag #TaxAccountant had over 1.4M views and there was a clear opportunity to build presence early on. 
  1. Streamline content strategy: As mentioned earlier, low-production, relatable creative tends to do best in short-form video. Leverage TikTok as a research tool to observe how consumers are already interacting with your brand and use that to inspire concepts and creative ideas. Some of the most successful accounts on TikTok are in categories that most people would not consider fun or entertaining, but these brands have identified and embraced what authentically makes them unique and leaned into their humanness. For example, this TikTok created by The Washington Post is paired with The Office theme song and provides a fun internal view of staff. 
  1. Test the waters: Post different types of content daily to see what performs best. Consider trying out a partnership with a company or creators or exploring paid advertising to break into the platform.  

Partnering with an integrated agency to help develop a social strategy and maintain an engaging, authentic stream of content can greatly further your business objectives. The world of social continues to evolve… is your strategy evolving with it?  

Is your brand looking to build a TikTok presence?

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about the author

Aly Svinte  As a recent public relations graduate from the University of South Carolina, Aly brings her passion for strategic campaign development to the Luquire media team. With experience in digital marketing and social media management interning at various agencies, she works to create unique media plans that are tailored to exceed client objectives.


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