Where do you go for information? Do you use Google as your search engine?
Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan says that Gen Zers aren’t Googling. They are turning to TikTok.
“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search,” he continued. “They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
TikTok is leaning into ways it can be more than just an entertainment destination but also a source of information. In Southeast Asia, TikTok is testing out a new feed option that has local content so that people can find nearby restaurants, businesses, and events.
The app that initially went viral in 2019 with videos of people lip-syncing to sounds and dancing to songs has become a go-to source for users who need answers, suggestions, and recommendations.
eMarketer says that other platforms have been seeing declines in time spent while TikTok has been growing. They predict US adults will spend 18.6% of their social media time on TikTok in 2024 (the same amount as on Instagram), growing massively from 2019’s 4.5%.
There’s a growing trend of micro-learning that takes place on TikTok, and there’s no sight of slowing down anytime soon for the app.
The art of learning on TikTok lies in its creative format. From DIY Home Decor, to technology hacks, painting, chemistry experiments, fun facts, recipes, and more, creators are sharing knowledge in unique ways. It’s no surprise that millions of users are saying, “I learned this on TikTok.”
Let’s dive into some of the features of TikTok that make it perfect as a search engine.
Search Engine Features on TikTok
Videos on TikTok can range from 15 seconds to 10 minutes. Both long and short-form videos are enjoyed on this platform.
“If an image is a thousand words and you have 27 frames per second in a video, then a video is worth 27,000 words per second. From an emotional standpoint, there’s a lot more information being conveyed. It’s a lot more real. There’s a level of validation and truth to it that you won’t necessarily get from text. You can’t see facial expressions in text. Essentially we are getting a firehose of information that comes to us in video, and we really feed off that.”
– Eric Dahan, Open Influence CEO
Video content is essential, not just for learning, but for searching on the internet. This is something that Google has noticed and leaned into for its search results, making the video tab second.
This is the equivalent of Instagram’s Explore page.
What is the discover page? According to TikTok:
“Discover is a page on TikTok that allows you to search and explore the wide variety of content in the TikTok community. In this feed you’ll find trending videos, hashtags, creators, and sponsored content.”
Users can browse through a compilation of content from these categories:
Hashtags label content. This helps the algorithm place the content in front of the right people. It also helps users when they are trying to search for content on their own.
The app recently rolled out ways for TikTok creators to make their content more searchable. Instead of a 300-character caption max, TikTok announced it’s bumping the limit up to 2,200 characters.
“You can now type up to 2200 characters in your posts’ descriptions: This allows you to express more details about your creations, describing what your videos show, giving you the opportunity to get closer to your audience, generating more engagement while becoming more searchable and better recommended by TikTok to viewers.”
Social Media Analyst Matt Navarra posted the message he received regarding the change. In his tweet he talks about how big this is for creators, but especially huge for TikTok considering their plans of becoming a search engine.
Woah…! TikTok has increased video description character limit to 2,200 characters!
This is huge for creators and massive in terms of TikTok’s plans for becoming a search engine pic.twitter.com/kGhnL97uUM
— Matt Navarra (@MattNavarra) September 23, 2022