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What is Search First Social Media Marketing?

‘Search first’ is one of the latest buzzwords in the social media marketing sphere. Gone are the days when Google was top dog – TikTok took the lead in 2021 as the most visited domain in the world, knocking Google down to second place. With Gen Z leading the way, users nowadays tend to prefer visual information; short-form video content, for example, is more palatable than pages of text.
But why else has there been a shift to non-traditional search engines – and how will this affect your marketing strategy in 2023? Keep reading to find out more!

TikTok > Google

First, let’s take a second to deconstruct the reasoning behind TikTok’s triumph. In addition to many users being visual learners, they also favour efficiency. Instead of trawling through several pages of Google results, users can find quick and easy shortcuts to the information they need – via a video-based platform. What’s more, many users question the authenticity of platforms such as Google.

At Social Chameleon, we know better than anyone that good SEO will boost your Google ranking. However, young customers, in particular, view platforms such as TikTok as ‘more authentic’, due to its predominantly user-generated content and focus on genuine thought and opinion. This contrasts starkly with the abundance of ads which make up the first page of Google – most of which position websites at the top, not due to their relevance, but because of their expensive ad fee!

It’s no secret that our social media-obsessed population has an increasingly shortened attention span. Platforms such as TikTok provide easily digestible content, which is preferable for the average user. Frankly, there is such an infinite wealth of content out there that users simply don’t have time to stick around on one page for too long – unless they are significantly captivated, that is!

Did Somebody Say Gen Z?

Some say that Gen Z is taking over the social media world. Whilst they may not be the sole internet users (cue disgruntled Millennials brandishing their Instagram follower ratios), they certainly take up a significant proportion – particularly in terms of hours spent on different platforms. Therefore, it isn’t surprising that Gen Z’s preferences are dictating the shift in the search engine tide.
Google’s Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan said, “In our studies, something like almost 40 percent of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram.” This refers to a survey of U.S. users aged 18 to 24. Research has shown that young people tend to customise their online experience, using different social media platforms to search for different things – from news to food, and from fashion to culture. But which platform is better suited to each?

Search First Social Media Platforms: The Big Three
When we talk about search first social media, there are three key players: TikTok, Instagram and YouTube. But what do people search for across these different platforms?
As previously mentioned, TikTok predominantly consists of user-generated content, for both entertainment and educational purposes. Therefore, users flock to the platform to search for fashion and beauty tips, recipes, restaurant and shopping recommendations etc. To learn more about TikTok SEO, have a read of our blog here.

Instagram soon joined the short-form video trend with IG Reels, and is still one of the most popular image-based platforms worldwide. Whilst users’ Instagram searches are similarly aligned with TikTok’s food, fashion and culture, Instagram provides the option to search by location – meaning that users can look up local venues and see what’s hot and what’s not. Instagram has always been about aesthetics, and, in addition to seeking advice for the most aesthetically pleasing food, many users also use Instagram for interior decorating ideas!

Finally, YouTube is the oldest popular example of a social media search platform. Like Google, it is characterised by the search bar at the top of the page, but, instead, sends users straight to their sought-after video content. YouTube is an incredibly popular hub of news and tutorials, whilst also being used for sole entertainment purposes.

Is Search First Social Media The Future of Marketing?

Now, this is the real question. As with any form of digital marketing, it is crucial that you listen to your audience. We would advise you to consider the reasons behind the ever-changing tides; for example, many users are now showing preference for authentic, human content. Take a look at Instagram: gone are the days when airbrushed, carefully curated feeds were the golden standard. People now have more affinity with eclectic aesthetics, reflective of the miscellaneous nature of life!

This is also a key reason why TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform. It specialises in authentic, relatable content – indeed, something your brand should consider when implementing your social media strategy. And if short-form video content isn’t already a central focus on your social media – you are lagging far behind the times! Short-form content is a must in 2023 to capture your audience’s attention – and keep it!

Finally, you must ensure that your team has a ‘search-first approach’, which involves prioritising SEO. Search first social media marketing is the ultimate example of the social media and SEO worlds colliding, and further emphasises your business’s need to have a full-suite digital marketing agency – like ours – in your corner.

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