Is TikTok the new search engine?

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AUGUSTA, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) — When most people think of TikTok and Instagram, they imagine selfies, dance videos, and sometimes the “TikTok Challenge.”

Gen Z sees these two social networks together differently. They use them for shopping and research.

According to a TechCrunch report, 40% of Gen Zers say TikTok and Instagram are the apps they primarily use for research.

It’s a bit of a shock because Google doesn’t often lose to other companies, but according to many Gen Zers, Google is kind of “old school.”

Rather than “Googling” something, they find it easier to search within the app they’re using. The startling discovery comes from Google itself, showing that when Gen Z is looking for a place to eat or something to do, they hop on TikTok or Instagram to see what other users recommend.

And these social networks prey on an even higher percentage of online searchers.

Instagram this week added a map feature to its explore tab. If someone searches for “restaurants in Baltimore” or food trucks in Austin, images appear on a map posted by other users.

There are also reviews, phone numbers, hours of operation, and everything someone needs to know before deciding where to eat, sleep, or play. Searching for hotels in San Francisco on Instagram, we found millions of pages where we can see what users posted and where they posted it from.

You can zoom in on the map for even more recent posts. The search is similar on TikTok.

When we searched for things to do in Denver with kids, we found not only recent videos and recommendations, but also questions and answers from other TikTok users.

Many results come from influencers and paid publications, so reviews aren’t always reliable. And while many of us can still Google the things we’re looking for, it’s clear that young people are using TikTok and Instagram for everything.

TikTok is already threatening YouTube, with some predicting that TikTok’s ad revenue will overtake YouTube in less than two years. Something no one could predict just a few years ago.

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