Searching and Purchasing: Google or Social?

Written by Jonathan Baker with insights from Calista Zahos

Google may be synonymous with search, but even this giant of the worldwide web has competition, particularly from two powerhouse social media platforms—TikTok and Instagram. Is Google losing steam? Should marketers automatically move their budgets to social media? “No” on both counts…

Search engines: A generational choice

The trend of social media becoming a “go to” place to conduct searches has been growing gradually for a couple of years—and is only escalating. Much of this escalation correlates with the ever-growing purchase power among younger consumers—Generation Z (or “Gen Z”). Yes, shoppers who were born between the mid-to-late 1990s to the early 2010s routinely check TikTok and Instagram with the same consistency that their parents browse Google. How routinely?

Browsing and buying via social media—Gen Z style

This past December, financial news website PYMNTS reported that over 40 percent of Gen Z regularly signed into TikTok or Instagram to both search and purchase products that caught their attention, with clothing and beauty products as the most sought-after items. The PYMNTS article further noted that other platforms—most notably Pinterest—have become popular places for these younger consumers to shop:

“Gen Z is an emerging powerhouse on Pinterest, representing our most engaged and fastest-growing audience.” — Statement from Pinterest

While these findings may be very encouraging as added avenues where brands may gain visibility, marketers should not suddenly jump on the “social media as a store” band wagon.

A question to ask about marketing on social media

Marketers should use this twist on Shakespeare before instantly seeking out TikTok, Instagram, or any other platform to market their products or services: “To promote my brand on social media—or not promote my brand on social media. That is the question.”

Yes, that is a very important question, and one that deserves a lot of consideration.

The main consideration…

Consider this comparison between TikTok and Google from Calista Zahos, Junior Marketing Coordinator at EGC:

“Tik Tok’s emergence as a search engine indicates a shift in how information is acquired and consumed by users, although there is a concern of how accurate some information isas Google remains at the top for credibility. In my opinion, I think it really depends on what kind of information a user is searching for. Topics like medical advice or local news are where most of the concern is raised, but for casual topicslike ‘a new city to visit’ or ‘best gyms on Long Island’I’ve seen so many people find what they are looking for.”

So, brands and businesses that are already promoted on Google should not abandon this search engine in favor of going to more popular social media sites for exposure. As noted above, members of Gen Z tend to conduct searches for clothes, beauty items, or—as Calista says ‘casual topics’—on their social platforms of choice. Inquiries related to more serious matters, however, should be researched on Google—even by these younger consumers.

How can your brand be best promoted online?

Could your brand get a boost from social media, and if so, on which site? (An important point to remember is discovering which platform would best suit a brand’s visibility and ability to “click” with an audience. Not every site will work.)

On the other hand, is your brand appearing near the top of search results in Google?

EGC can answer these and other questions and help you make the most of marketing your brand online. Contact us to find out how.