5 Oct 2022UpdateWhat even is this?For Gen Z, TikTok is the new Google

Gen Z are the first digitally-native generation. And for a cohort of users that have grown up online, the way they search and seek information is changing. Many are finding answers to their questions via social media, with TikTok a firm favourite due to its engaging content and savvy algorithm.

J’Nae PhillipsJ'Nae Phillips is an Insights Editor at Canvas8. After an early career working in fashion and media, her passion for culture and journalism grew and she made the transition to writing and editing full-time. She specialises in fashion, trends, cultural shifts and all of the good stuff that gets people talking.

‘Searching’ for something on the internet is outdated.

When people look for information online, they usually say they'll ‘Google’ it… or they used to at least.

As a new generation of internet users are changing notions of old, they're reinventing and rethinking how they look for information online. Among Gen Zers, 95% own a smartphone, 83% own a laptop, and 57% have a desktop computer. And with 69% of being uncomfortable without internet access for more than eight hours, it's safe to say absorbing all things digital has become second nature for this generation.

Young people, in particular, are drawn to TikTok’s user-generated content that feels personable and authentic. More importantly, TikTok can tap into Gen Zers' keen eye for visuals while presenting them with the information they need in a way that keeps them coming back for more.

3 key insights:

  • TikTok’s accessibility is allowing it to become a dominating social media force: it has over one billion monthly active users worldwide, including over 113 million users over 18 in the US.
  • Having been exposed to tech from an early age, social media is now central to many Gen Zers’ lives – 20% spend more than five hours a day on TikTok.
  • A survey commissioned by Google has found that among social media users in the US aged 18 to 24, nearly 40% use TikTok or Instagram to search online.

Extended reading:
💻 TikTok’s algorithm, which personalises content by keeping an eye on what people engage with the most, is allowing Gen Zers to find restaurant recommendations, apply for private high schools, seek out local businesses, and so much more.
🔎 Gen Zers are curating their need-to-know searches according to what social platform they're spending time on. And you guessed it, TikTok is ahead of the game in the search stakes.
💡 A combination of light-hearted videos that focus on ironic humour, meme-worthy content, and educational how-to’s is upsetting the old internet order.
🚩 Even though younger generations are jumping on the TikTok bandwagon as their go-to choice over traditional search engines, tension lies in the misinformation that runs rife on social media apps.

This was spotted on The Long Read, our monthly newsletter showcasing bite-sized cultural analysis of the newest (and strangest!) behaviours we’ve been tracking at Canvas8 – sign up here.