Is Time Tiktok-ing for Authenticity?

01 November 2022


For our Gen Z kids out there, you might be familiar with the TikTok search feature and how it has massively improved. And for those of us who are slightly older, (maybe even still trying to pass as millennials, no judgement here!), reports are suggesting that Gen Z are even favouring TikTok over Google for recommendations.

Senior Vice President of Google Prabhakar Raghavan recently admitted to this saying:

“Almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram” 

This might seem a bit shocking depending on who your target audience is, so let’s take a look at the differences of TikTok and Google from a search perspective, and what that means for businesses. Because Gen Z or not, we know not all target audiences operate on TikTok.

TikTok search returns short videos with real life clips showcasing locations, interviews, news, titles etc. This realness is what is believed to attract Gen Z who have grown up bombarded with ads. For example, if you Google ‘top things to do in Glasgow’ you get articles and blogs that most likely feature paid promotions. The below shows the top results as Timeout and Tripadvisor, which are notorious for paid links and ads. And the average Joe Bloggs knows this.

But, on the other hand, check out what you see when you search on TikTok for Glasgow activities. Vibrant short form videos with a moving preview from people actually in Glasgow. Locals know best! The comments give users the option to provide feedback, and the likes show how many people agree with the video, which validates the recommendation. 

When users are looking for travel recommendations, tutorials, cooking inspiration, interview advice etc, authentic visuals are so important. There is no harm in developing video content as part of your organic strategy that answers generic user questions to push content up the TikTok SERP. This is particularly relevant for industries such as travel, hospitality, sports, DIY and home renovation for some free exposure.

Let’s see it in action… What would YOU be more tempted to scroll through? And what do you think is more authentic?

Or how about searching for new restaurants to try?

Again, the differences are clear. We know users value authenticity and seeing is believing when you are looking for recommendations.

In recent years, Google has been showcasing different result styles including images and lists which answer users queries quickly and simply. Google is constantly adapting to try and make searches more relevant for the user. But could they be falling short on this one especially in terms of authenticity? 

In the Belfast restaurant recommendation snippet above, you can also see that Google is trying to showcase more authentic reviews with the rating system and using photos supplied by the public. 

So, what does all this mean? Will TikTok take over from search engines? 

Short answer, we don’t think so. 

With Google offering so much more than short form video there is so much variety to explore and features that TikTok doesn’t yet offer such as map integration. The key lesson we should take away from the rise of TikTok searches is that users value authenticity. 

But - Authenticity is King. 

And this can cover beyond TikTok, Google, and more. The digital landscape in general should always consider authenticity in content. In this post-covid world, people want to feel connected to realness, and want support of brands before they make a purchase. 

Our Digital Performance Marketing experts have been driving Google strategies for years that push for authenticity to ensure your brand stands out. Get in touch with our team and see what we can do for you!

Loud Mouth Media are a leading Social Advertising Agency in Belfast - see our other specialisms, here.