TikTokification: How TikTok is Becoming a Major Search Engine

TikTokification (yes, that’s a scientific term we just made up), is changing the social media landscape.

TikTok has caused other platforms like Instagram and Facebook to adjust their strategies, making video content their top priority. But changing the social media industry wasn’t enough, and now TikTok is coming for search engines.

TikTok is now entering its Search Engine Era, and other social media platforms and search engines are taking note.

You Want to Be Me So Bad?

Wondering why your Instagram feed is so terrible lately? It’s because Instagram is trying to be something they’re not. With the new prioritization of video content (called Reels) by Instagram, your social media feed will have changed drastically. What used to be an app for seeing what your friends are up to and following your favourite influencer has now turned into a hodgepodge of video content that you probably already saw on TikTok. Reels are now the priority for Instagram, which used to be dominated by photo carousels and stories.

With users now spending an average of 52 minutes on TikTok every day, Instagram is trying to capture a portion of this massive audience by simply prioritizing video content. Instagram even rolled out a beta test on a scrolling format exactly like TikTok’s in June 2022, which left users feeling irritated and even dizzy. Instagram continues to sprinkle “recommended posts” throughout users’ feeds in an attempt to mimic TikTok’s “For You” page, further expanding people’s feed content outside of the accounts they’ve chosen to follow.

Further ridiculous stats from TikTok

  • Across the world, the average TikTok user spends 52 minutes on the app each day.
  • On average, TikTok users spend 6.06 hours a week on the app.
  • On average, TikTok users spend 26 hours per month and 2.3 years of their lifetime on the app.
  • TikTok has an impressive 1 billion active users every month.
  • 90% of TikTok users access the app on a daily basis.
  • 60% of TikTok users spend more than 10 hours on the app each week.
  • The average TikTok user spends 10.85 minutes per session on the platform.
  • On average, US TikTok users spend 33 minutes per day using the app.
  • The engagement rate for TikTok on accounts with 100,000 followers is 5.30%, compared to Instagram at 1.10% and Twitter at 0.30%.
  • TikTok was installed 2.6 billion times

2022 stats from: https://www.renolon.com/average-time-spent-on-tiktok/

TikTok as a Search Engine

Now that TikTok has created major envy among its social media peers, they’re coming for the necks of search engines. By prioritizing SEO in people’s videos, TikTok is rapidly becoming the first stop for Gen-Z and even young Millennials when searching for something. This also means that creators are curating video content with SEO top of mind, using keywords in their audio, captions, and bio to land at the top of search results.

But why are people using TikTok as a search engine?

Simply put. Social dominance means money in creators’ pockets through monetization of their channel, corporate sponsorships, or “tips” that can be sent from viewers who like a creator’s content. So, current or would-be influencers along with a plethora of subject matter experts are working double-time to rise to the top of the charts, publishing new and on-trend content with rabbit-like efficiency and frequency. Whether users are looking for the best travel credit card, how to edit a video in a particular way, or where they should vacation next, the pool of TikTok content fitting almost any category you can imagine continues to grow every day.

How Do You Tell Which Information is Legitimate?

It’s important to remember that even though TikTok is starting to prioritize SEO and compete with search engines, it doesn’t mean all the information is helpful. Like the second page of Google search results, not every piece of content hits the mark.

When it comes to using TikTok as a search engine, today’s content is more about recommendations, reviews, and first-hand accounts for topics like careers, world events, product reviews, and more. If you’re looking for information on a day in the life of a local news anchor, an honest book review, or a breakdown of the potential finding of Cleopatra’s tomb, there’s a TikTok video for that.

The content on TikTok is made up of primary, secondary, and tertiary sources. Think of the person that experiences the event and tells their first-hand account, the people who provide an analysis of each person’s account, and then the people who compile all this information in one place for everyone else to find. Each source provides value and adds an extra layer to the topic in their own way.

But isn’t all this content just people’s opinions? How do you tell which content has value and which is just trying to rack up views or affiliate commission? Here are our tips for wading through the muck:

  • Check the source: did they list their qualifications? Use context clues and background information to discern whether the content creator is a legitimate expert. Are they a licensed doctor who is currently practicing, or a consumer sharing their experience? Also, know what you’re looking for before you search for it. Sometimes you’re looking for a peer’s first-hand experience with something. Other times you’re looking for an expert’s educated opinion.
  • Determine if it’s a paid review: Are they trying to sell you something that will earn them a commission, or are they just sharing a review of their favourite product? Keep in mind, just because it’s a paid review doesn’t mean it’s disingenuous. But if every product is the most amazing product they’ve ever tried, they might be leaving out any product flaws in favour of trying to earn a commission.
  • The comments tell a deeper story: Besides the comment section on TikTok being hilarious, they also provide an extra layer to the video. The comment section is the wild wild west of TikTok, but they can also provide additional information about the video. From sharing an opposing opinion, validating the content of the video, or providing a jumping-off point for subsequent videos, exploring the comment section can help give you a well-rounded view of what you just watched. Just keep in mind that like with determining the validity of the video itself, you also have to use your best judgment on the comments.

Spanning Beyond Social Media

The impact of TikTok has been felt well beyond the world of social media. Take Barnes & Noble, the largest bookstore chain in the United States. After causing ripples of panic over a potential collapse and being acquired by a hedge fund in 2019, TikTok saved them. Yes, TikTok. Well, technically, BookTok to be exact.

Fast forward a few years, and Barnes & Noble is now doing better than ever. Their sales of physical books are soaring, with sales increasing year over year since 2019. They have featured “As Seen on TikTok” book tables, and they’ve noticed a significant increase in teenagers shopping in-store for physical books. Shoppers are even staying longer in stores to film content for TikTok.

TikTok has changed the way books are sold beyond just Barnes & Noble. If you’ve strolled through the airport recently you may or may not recognize the front-facing books that face out as you walk by. If you’re a BookToker, you’ll recognize these books. From Colleen Hoover to Emily Henry, most of them are from BookTok.

TikTok and the power behind BookTok have completely changed the way books are sold.

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera was published in 2017 and spent a few weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list after its release.

Enter BookTok.

In 2020, Silvera’s publisher started noticing a significant uptick in sales as the book went viral on TikTok. The young adult science fiction novel went on to spend 15 consecutive months at the number one spot on the bestseller list, and it’s still on the bestseller list in 2022. Since both characters do indeed die at the end, Silvera is working on a prequel to appease his ravenous readers. Silvera’s experience on BookTok is just the tip of the iceberg.

These are just examples from ONE section (and one hashtag!) on TikTok. TikTok has also greatly impacted the music industry, local businesses, small online businesses, streaming services, and more.


Intimidated by TikTok? We Can Help.

If you want to get your brand in on the action on TikTok, our Loomonauts can help you create an engaging social media strategy that your audience can’t help but notice. Contact us today to get started.

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Loomo is a full-service branding, creative design, and marketing agency with offices in Vancouver and Victoria, BC. We are dedicated to doing whatever it takes to see your business grow. 

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