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Why are so many users choosing TikTok search over Google?

Google Search has a surprising new competitor - TikTok. With more data dispelling misconceptions about the platform, here's why every business, including B2Bs, can benefit.

When it comes to B2B social media marketing, few platforms are more misunderstood than TikTok.

These misconceptions can lead to one of the most exciting platforms in social media marketing being written off by B2Bs – and huge opportunities missed. If you don’t take TikTok seriously enough, you will miss out to the businesses that will.  

TikTok statistics 2022-2024

Many marketing directors assume that TikTok’s demographic skews too young for their organisation to bother integrating it into their marketing, especially for B2B.

The relatively youthful audience might remain its largest, but it is no longer the majority. The idea that TikTok is only for teens isn’t supported by the evidence anymore.

As of April 2023, here’s how the ages of TikTok users breaks down:

Now, almost 30% of the app’s users are over the age of 35, with another 1/3 of users between 25 and 34. Popularity among older users has been growing since the app’s popularity exploded during the COVID-19 pandemic. This isn’t the only trend to buck perceived wisdom.

In 2022, internal data from Google revealed that 40% of people born between 1997 and 2002 prefer using TikTok to Google for online search queries. A September 2023 survey by Her Campus Media revealed that 74% of Gen Z uses TikTok’s search function, and over half of Gen Z women prefer to use TikTok to search .

As the platform gains popularity across age groups it’s likely that TikTok’s search function will only get more popular. If you don’t use the app, the idea that a growing number of people are finding TikTok more useful than Google Search may be difficult to understand. Here’s what survey respondents told Her Campus Media were their three biggest reasons to choose TikTok:

  • The video format of the results (69%) 
  • More relatable answers (65%) 
  • Personalised answers (47%) 

Let’s look at TikTok’s search function in action to further explore why so many people are going to TikTok first.

Searching on TikTok

The image above shows TikTok’s search function and the kinds of results it produces. The “Others searched for” section is telling: “vibey”, “boujie”, “affordable”, “unique”.

Compare Google’s results for the same search. 

TikTok’s search success lies partially in the perception that it produces results that are more human, and more like a recommendation from a friend – those more personalised, relatable results survey respondents were looking for.

There’s the sense that the results are more community-sourced than algorithmic like Google’s, whether that’s true or not. The fact that TikTok’s results are videos, giving you an instant look at the restaurant interiors,  also makes them seem even more genuine and informative than Google’s long-form lists.

TikTok is certainly aware of the power of its search function – for several years now, its been specifically advertising its search function, as in this ad released one month ago:

TikTok is more than aware that getting personal-feeling video responses has huge appeal, especially for people looking for recommendations in what can feel like a totally saturated search market (in this case, for running advice).

TikTok for B2B 

That’s all well and good, you might think, but I’m not running marketing for a restaurant, bar or gym – I’m running it for B2B. The trends however, are right in front of you.

  • TikTok is growing in popularity among all age demographics
  • Its search function is also continuing to grow in popularity among users over Google
  • Its success partially relies on the perception that it is more “genuine” than other platforms

Whether you’re working at a dive bar or a B2B company, TikTok is an opportunity to show off your team and company culture, work environment and everything else you have to offer on the human side of the client experience.

Here are examples of B2Bs making waves on TikTok, and how you can adapt these techniques in your B2B strategy: 

Showcasing your podcast’s valuable moments

Industry: Product Marketing Audience: Marketers

Showcasing short snippets from podcasts is a common, very popular format on TikTok at the moment.

Here, we’ve got a split screen video showing an interview on the top part of the screen and the examples discussed on the bottom, helping the viewer understand the industry references made whilst keeping the guest on screen at all times. 

This maintains that all-important human connection associated with TikTok while making the video as informative as possible in the shortest amount of time. This technique of showing both the interview and topic at hand can be transferred easily to B2B organisations. 

Industry: Investment Audience: Business owners and entrepreneurs

This is another great example of a podcast reformatted for TikTok. This one focuses more on the interview itself and gives plenty of airtime to host and guest while following TikTok’s best practices. 

When applying this to B2B content, think about the individuals working within your client’s business. How can you appeal to them? How can you connect with them? TikTok can be a great way to start nurturing trust and building relationships. 

Educating your audience with quick wins

@dirtyworkdigital

Are you optimising the small things we forget about in social media platforms? #socialmediahelp #socialmediamanager #seo

♬ original sound – Abby | SMM | Marketing

Industry: Marketing Audience: Social media marketers, general marketers, marketing managers

This TikTok walks its audience through how they might be losing potential leads. It starts with a hook, and then goes through an explanation using examples overlaid on screen. This is another example of how you can target and appeal to the individuals within your target businesses, using TikTok as a way to build authority by showing your knowledge and expertise. 

Provide insights on your workplace culture

@sleepinggiantmedia

Reply to @xraybravohotel I’ve explained a bit more about unlimited annual leave here! #workperks #fyp #unlimitedannualleave #holiday

♬ original sound – Sleeping Giant Media

Industry: Marketing Audience: Employees, potential employees, 

A simple explanation can still be an effective way of showcasing your workplace culture – especially if you’re looking to recruit potential new employees. This TikTok is effective because not only does it align with industry-wide trends (e.g. how does unlimited annual leave work, a hot topic this year thanks to the trial of a four day work week) but also explains exactly how this industry handles it. 

It’s another great way of putting a face to the brand, building that relationship, and revealing part of your workplace culture in an authentic way.


TikTok’s rise isn’t over, and smart B2B businesses will start exploring the platform, measuring results, and setting trends instead of waiting for other, braver competitors to make the first leap.


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