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Gen Z Ditches Google: Embraces TikTok & Instagram as Top Search Engines, Study Finds

Gen Z is turning away from Google and embracing social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram for search. Instagram is the top choice for Gen Z, followed by TikTok, while Google falls to third place. Social media platforms are rising in popularity as search tools across all demographic groups.

Gen Z is turning away from Google and embracing social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram as their preferred search engines, according to a recent study. The study, conducted by marketing technology vendor SOCI, surveyed 1,002 U.S. consumers and found that Google has slipped to third place among 18 to 24-year-olds.


Damian Rollison, the director of market insights at SOCI, commented on the findings, stating, "Google is in for an intense fight to retain its relevance in search with younger users." Among Gen Z, Instagram takes the top spot, with 67% of respondents saying they use the platform for search. TikTok comes in second, with 62% of the 18 to 24 demographic using it for search, while Google trails behind at 61%. It's worth noting that many people use multiple apps and platforms for search, which is why the numbers exceed 100%.


While the survey did not include younger generations, it is likely that TikTok and Instagram would have even greater dominance among them. In fact, as early as 2022, Google revealed that 40% of youth use TikTok or Instagram to search for a place to have lunch, rather than relying on Google or Google Maps. These trends have continued to grow.

The study also highlighted the role of other social media platforms in local search. Snapchat, for example, is used by 45% of Gen Z for local search. Facebook, often seen as the "adult" social network, also plays a significant role in search.


SOCI noted that across all demographic groups, social media platforms are rising in popularity as search tools. While Google Search and Google Maps still dominate, Facebook is making a strong showing in third place.


However, there is some good news for Google. The search giant remains top of mind for older generations who have made it a verb. The study found that 79% of adults aged 55-64, 76% of those aged 35-44, and 74% of those aged 45-54 still use Google Search. Additionally, many individuals use Google Maps as their primary search engine.


Despite the challenges, Google still has some strong assets in its arsenal. YouTube, for instance, captures 3% of global search, making it a significant player. Google Images is even bigger, accounting for about 20% of search volume.


However, the rise of social search is undeniable. "A seismic shift is reshaping how consumers find local businesses," says Rollison. “The old guard of search engines is being challenged as younger shoppers turn to Instagram and TikTok for search and discovery. For businesses, a robust presence on these platforms isn’t just beneficial – it’s critical to winning market share with younger consumers.”


While social search continues to grow, another threat looms for Google in the form of generative AI. Microsoft has partnered with OpenAI, the maker of GPT-4, to incorporate generative results into Bing. This partnership may give Microsoft an edge, but Bing still only holds about 3.3% of global search volume, according to Statcounter.

 
  • Gen Z is turning away from Google and embracing social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram for search

  • Instagram is the top choice for Gen Z, followed by TikTok, while Google falls to third place

  • Social media platforms are rising in popularity as search tools across all demographic groups


Source: FORBES

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