When most people think of TikTok and Instagram, they picture selfies, dance videos, and the occasional “TikTok Challenge.”
Gen Z sees these two social networks together differently. They use them for shopping and research.
According to a TechCrunch report, 40% of Gen Zers say TikTok and Instagram are the apps they primarily use for research.
It’s kind of a shock because Google doesn’t often lose out to other companies. According to many Gen Zers, Google is kind of “old school”. Rather than “Googling” something, they find it easier to simply search within the app they’re using.
The startling discovery comes from Google itself, showing that when Gen Z is looking for a place to eat or something to do, they hop on TikTok or Instagram to see what other users recommend. And these social networks come after an even larger percentage of online searchers.
Instagram added a map feature this week to its explore tab. If someone searches for “restaurants in Baltimore” or “food trucks in Austin,” images appear on a map posted by other users. There are also reviews, phone numbers, hours of operation, and everything someone needs to know before deciding where to eat, sleep, or play.
When I searched for “hotels in San Francisco” on Instagram, I found millions of relevant results. I could see what users were posting and where they were posting from. You can zoom in on the map for even more recent posts.
The search is similar on TikTok. When I searched for “things to do in Denver with kids,” I found not only recent videos and recommendations, but also questions and answers from other TikToks.
Most results come from influencers and paid publications, so reviews aren’t always trustworthy. While many of us can still Google the things we’re looking for, it’s clear that young people are using TikTok and Instagram for everything.
TikTok is already threatening YouTube, with some predicting that TikTok ad revenue will overtake YouTube in less than 2 years – something no one could predict a few years ago.