Is social media the new search engine? | News | Social Media Management | MN2S

The way we search for information has drastically transformed over the last few decades.

We live in a society where the generation of  people who remember walking into a library, reading through pages and pages of actual paper in order to obtain information, is starting to be outnumbered by a generation who couldn’t imagine it. 1983 saw the invention of the internet, and with it the creation of search engines, to follow Yahoo was founded in 1994 and Google in 1998. While Google, and Yahoo dominated initially, gone are the days of reading long webpages. The recent progress in AI, 2024 and previous years, such as ChatGPT, created in 2022 which has replaced the hours of reading and research.

Traditional search engines have long been the go-to for online searches, but the rise of social media platforms as alternative search engines, particularly among younger generations, suggests a shifting trend. Nearly 40% of internet users now turn to social media for information, prompting the question, is social media indeed becoming the new search engine, and what impact this has it on content strategies. Is this shift is temporary or permanent?

Why social media has become the search tool of the future for Gen Z and Alpha audiences.

The appeal of social media lies in its ability to provide quick access to genuine, content, particularly valued by Gen Z, who seek authentic videos and experiences shared by real individuals, instead of the curated over produced content created by large corporations who try to control the narrative around their brand. The start of social media platforms as a search tool, was first seen with the use of hashtags on platforms like Twitter and Instagram, allowing users to categorise their content and conveniently search for related posts. In a similar vain TikTok followed suit with the “For You” page, consisting of content the algorithm has hand picked for you to align your interests based, keywords used in previous searches and interactions with past content. Social media’s evolution into search engines mirrors Google’s shift towards visual results, indicating a changing digital landscape.

pexels kseverin 1542252

Information now needs to be immediately accessible and, more importantly, authentic.

Long-form content has been condensed or created to be consumed on the go. New features, such as YouTube premium allowing you to continue listening when you exit the application on your phone, in the same way that you would stream a podcast or music, means you can listen in the background while you are doing something else, demonstrating that the way we consume information has changed, with the audience’s capacity for attention reduced, with the likes of TikTok, IG Reels, and even YouTube Shorts. 

Influencers and user-generated content became vital in driving discoverability and trust.

Users now take to social media in search of answers, recommendations, advice, and tutorials, with real-time access to the author and its community for follow-up questions. Searches often rely on videos and visuals. User-generated content becomes live, interactive, and real-life testimonials of experiences, documenting gigs, performances, services, and products. It’s imperative that you consider including influencers, into your social media marketing plan.

pexels ivan samkov 7676402
pexels ivan samkov 7676402

Trust is becoming more and more crucial, not just for sales but for overall brand perception, it’s well know that in general consumers are willing to pay more for brands they trust, and to be influenced by people they trust, thus the term influencer was born.

Traditional advertisements are seen as boring in 2024, and paid partnerships incorporating a trusted personalities into purchase have become a must. You should incorporate this when thinking about your own social media content ideas. Influencers, can bring a fresh new take to the way you talk about your brand, adding credibility as well as putting you in front of a much larger audience.

Social media platforms allows for the human faces behind businesses to be seen which is pivotal in building this trust.

People come for the expertise and stay for the personality; audiences learn and are inspired to grow by and with the creator. 

Adapting to trends and changes may feel daunting, but it’s essential for staying competitive. Embracing new strategies, including leveraging talent on social media to be seen is crucial for business survival and growth in this dynamic environment.

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