Is social media the new Google?

Since social media burst onto the digital scene, it has changed how people communicate, play, and shop. But is it now changing the way we search?

According to Google, 40% of Gen-Z users prefer social media over Google to search for products, services or reviews. So, why is the younger generation turning their back on search engines and what does this mean for the future of social?

Why are so many young users opting to search on social?

  • They prefer videos over text.

For Gen-Z, social media has always been a part of their lives, having never lived in a pre-internet world like their millennial peers. Younger users have absorbed video en masse from childhood, and video formats naturally get used whenever they learn about new topics or take in information. If a digital-native Gen-Z user wants to find the best bar, takeaway or experience near them, they look for visual summaries via video rather than sift through the ‘Top 10’ text on Google. 

  • They may feel the social algorithm knows them better than Google.

Social algorithms contain rich information about a person’s behaviours and preferences. When scrolling on social media, it doesn’t take long for a relevant and visually appealing video to appear to a user via their algorithm. The idea of passively being served personalised content appeals to younger generations who don’t want to research through potentially irrelevant text.

  • They don’t want to leave their beloved platforms.

Leaving a social media platform to conduct a search query, only then to return, is a complex journey for Gen-Z users. If social media apps provide users with entertainment and the ability to search in one solution, it becomes a highly convenient search option.

  • They value peer recommendations.

According to data from Neilson, 83% of consumers trust recommendations from their peers over advertising. Therefore, it’s no surprise that social media, populated with users who are just like them, has more authority than branded content being served to users via search engines. 

  • How has Google adapted to this challenge?

Not giving up without a fight, Google is developing some new features to help it compete with social platforms.

  1. Multisearch: Upload a screenshot of what you’re looking for, and Google will search through millions of images, reviews and maps to serve you with the most relevant content.
  2. Scene Exploration: Point your camera around the supermarket or shopping centre, and Google’s Scene Exploration feature will share interesting insights or information about the scanned products.

There are many features on social media that businesses can take advantage of to optimise for social searchers: 

  • Update your business details

Keep your social media bios up to date with your business information. Include your locations so that the map features help social searchers to find your business or service.

  • Extend your SEO keyword strategy to social media

There are plenty of areas where text still features on social media, such as video descriptions and captions. Many social platforms have admitted that they serve content based on key search terms, so ensure you are optimising text by including valuable keywords for your service, product or location. Hashtags also still play a role in searching for content created around a subject. Carry out some hashtag analysis for your business and regularly use popular hashtags your product or service could appear within.

Google has dominated the search landscape for almost a quarter of a century, but with social media bringing convenience, authority and personalisation, we may see a new challenger in the search space. Businesses should look to optimise their social text and layer it with authentic content creation to create a video network of peer reviews. In doing this, brands can execute a 360-degree search strategy, making social media an integral cog in their SEO machine. 

If you need help with your social media strategy or optimising for search, the team at 8 Million Stories are here for you. Contact us today.

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