The Rise of Social Search: Instagram and TikTok Overtake Google Among Gen Z

In a significant shift, Google has been displaced by Instagram and TikTok as the preferred platforms for Gen Z’s local business searches, according to a report by SOCi shared with Marketing Dive. While Google retains its popularity among older generations, ranking third (61%) among Gen Z’s preferred local search engines, Instagram (67%) and TikTok (62%) have emerged as the go-to choices for younger consumers.

The findings from SOCi underscore a growing trend: social media platforms are increasingly challenging Google’s dominance in search, particularly among younger demographics. As Gen Z users turn to platforms like Instagram and TikTok for search and discovery, Google is facing heightened competition in the local search landscape. The report also highlights the emergence of ChatGPT as another potential threat to Google’s core service, reflecting the evolving dynamics of the search market.

Despite Google’s efforts to innovate its search service, including the integration of its Gemini artificial intelligence model into Google Ads, the latest findings suggest that the company’s dominance in search may be under threat. While search remains Google’s largest segment, recent reports, including leaked internal research, indicate a shifting landscape, with social media gaining traction as a search resource.

The SOCi report also highlights social media’s growing role as a search tool across all demographic groups. While Google Search and Google Maps maintain their positions as the top choices for local business searches, platforms like Facebook, Instagram, TikTok, and Snapchat are gaining ground. Notably, Facebook remains a strong contender among older demographics, appealing to nearly two-thirds of consumers aged 35-44 and 60% of those aged 25-34.

Although Google remains the top local search destination among older demographics, retaining the loyalty of consumers aged 55 and above, the rise of social media platforms among younger generations signals a shifting paradigm in the search landscape. 

Recent research reveals that a remarkable 71% of teenage YouTube users are active on the platform daily, surpassing the 58% of teenage TikTok users who exhibit comparable daily engagement levels.

When it comes to brand engagement, Facebook maintained its position as the top social media channel among US internet users, commanding a significant 61.5% share.

Written by Jordan Bevan


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