TikTok is already the Gen Z search engine

When it looked like Google was so consolidated it was going to be invincible, Gen Z (those born between the late 90s and early 2000s) began to turn their backs on it, taking TikTok as a substitute. This trend has not gone unnoticed by Google: entrepreneur Prabhakar Raghavan admitted at a conference that, according to his internal studies, 40% of this generation use TikTok or Instagram to search, instead of Google or Maps, as noted by specialists. TechCrunch media.

“Before, despite all the doubts I might have, I went straight to Google, but now I go to TikTok first because of the trust it generates in me and because of the quality of the content. Only in case I am not convinced by what I see there or nothing related to what I am looking for appears, I use Google, and the truth is that this happens quite rarely”, recognizes Rosa Rodríguez , 22 years old – former user Like her, other young people go to the platform of Chinese origin instead of the traditional search engine, above all because of the speed it offers and because, instead of having to read a text to find certain information, a person on the other side of the screen He summarizes it in a few seconds.

Fátima Martínez, consultant for marketing digital and social networks and author of The TikTok Book, ensures that this platform has revolutionized everything: “I think it’s a totally different generation from the previous ones. TikTok offers you one-minute videos, where they tell you something you want to know at full speed. For example, with restaurant searches, you can go to Google and find what people think and see four photos, but what they do is go to TikTok and see videos of people who are at the restaurant, seeing what they’re eating, how they’re eating it, whether it’s pretty or not… These young people are much more used to anything visual, and they’re very lazy,” he says.

However, for Ubaldo Cuesta, professor of communication at the Complutense University of Madrid, this is not a problem exclusive to young people, but rather a more general problem: “The whole of society is moving towards liquid thinking. As Bauman said, we are moving towards a liquid society and superficial thinking. Why does this happen? First, because thinking is tiring; instead, see picture no. It is much easier to go towards a liquid society than to go towards a society of reflection and thought,” he insists. Of course, he considers that young people have become “what Sartori calls the homo videns, in a man who lives by the image”.

The visual makes users absorb content better with less effort. “The brain is fundamentally visual and reacts very well to this type of stimuli, so television and what would come later, like TikTok, very easily captures our attention”, explains the professor, who adds: “The image, of Somehow , it has word and thought defeated, as the philosopher Alain Finkielkraut explained.

While the visual doesn’t necessarily arrive at high speed on long-form video platforms like YouTube, on TikTok it’s often the common characteristic of anything uploaded. A 10 minute video is very hard to find and the most common ones are usually a few seconds long, not even a minute. Added to this is a search for escape which partly explains the phenomenon of influencers and idyllic and romantic contents with which the user dreams.

Fátima Martinez thinks that “children try to run away from the real world because they don’t like it and they don’t see a future. They want to live from day to day and the day is so short that they have to do everything as quickly as possible. They don’t think of the future, but of the present, and to live it they have become accustomed to things going very quickly”. According to developer data Software HubSpot, Gen Z prefers to learn new things through video, rather than text or other traditional formats, and also pays attention to content for an average of eight seconds.

For Ubaldo Cuesta, this has a very important relationship with the Carpe Diem and the pursuit of pleasure, something sociologist Neil Postman has called “playing to death”. “Since the image is much more passionate, it is basically the triumph of passion over reason. Moreover, it is part of the audiovisual market system, which needs many audiences and seeks them through passion, entertainment…”, insists the professor.

According to a study by the UK Communications Regulatory Office, the top three sources of information (and not just entertainment) for young people and teenagers are Instagram, TikTok and YouTube.

However, José Luis Sanz, a 19-year-old Internet user, claims to continue to search on Google and read sports information in the written newspapers: “I am traditional, he explains. Of course, when it comes to product reviews or technical explanations, go straight to the video. Similarly, 16-year-old user Sofia also continues to use Google to search for information except for some influencer.

Rosa Rodríguez explains that, unlike traditional search engines, she believes that TikTok offers “immediacy and proximity to the sender”, as in the case of health professionals. “They offer content with a much more understandable language, they generate more trust than a text on Google, which does not offer you much more than those few lines written and where, moreover, there is no possibility of reciprocal relationship,” adds the user. .

Professor Cuesta insists that there are “so many reviewers” (users who review and analyze services or products) on platforms like TikTok or YouTube “fits into this society, which no longer trusts authority, institutions or someone more or less serious like Google, but trusts more what a friend says and likes someone to appear in front of the camera to say it, like a influencer which, moreover, gives you the impression that he is an acquaintance of yours”.

If artificial intelligence is added to the visual quality, immediacy and trust offered by TikTok content, the result is an endless series of information that, moreover, really interests us. “It also changed the mentality of the children. TikTok shows you what you want to see. It’s totally addictive and it’s designed to be so that you spin videos vertically at full speed, it shows you what you want to see and it puts new videos for you to discover things”, explains the expert in marketing. And to add: “Google has no choice but to adapt to new generations, as it does with artificial intelligence and 3D.”

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