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When David took on Goliath all he took was a simple sling and some stones from the river.

TikTok’s modern-day equivalent is video shot on smartphones.

Five years ago vertical video was widely regarded as an amateur’s mistake. Now it’s infiltrating the internet at speed and chipping away at social media giants – Google, YouTube, Facebook, and Instagram too.

Disrupting the old order

TikTok’s style of easy-to-make video posts has already spawned – Reels on Facebook and Instagram and YouTube Shorts.

But it’s not only disrupting the social media “old order” its reach has spread to the ultimate search engine – Google.

At the end of last year (2021), Cloudflare which monitors website traffic metrics and internet trends reported TikTok was the most popular domain. Google came in second, followed by Facebook, Microsoft and Apple.

This month Sarah Perez, writing in Tech Crunch, said that even Google has admitted younger users don’t type in keywords into a search engine as a first option – but rather they look to discover video content.

They are seeking out information instead, through videos on TikTok and Instagram.

Senior Vice President Prabhakar Raghavan, who runs Google’s Knowledge & Information organisation told Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech Conference that 40per cent of young people (18-24) go to social media when they want to find somewhere to lunch.

Younger people were generally interested in more “visually rich forms” of search and discovery, he said.

A search on TikTok reveals comments like this.

“Google search ads have got out of control so TikTok feels more authentic.” @futurelilith.eth

 

“If you Google anything you get the LEAST human results possible, whereas TikTok gets your esults from real people.” @Kevinxpasco

 

“I’m travelling this week and I literally put my destination in TikTok search and was like WOW I just goggled on TikTok. ” @danimorin13

If you can remember a world without the internet

Now if you were born before 1985 – the last generation to grow up without the internet – your brain was wired to use, learn and create “content” in written and paper format.

So typing a few words into a search engine is like having access to a massive library.

The birth of the internet though brought a deluge of rich visual information to later generations and their response is clearly to watch and create video rather than read and write.

Hence, maybe, why a recent UK survey by OS Maps showed that three-quarters of adults can’t read a paper map and half couldn’t use a phone app for navigation – skills that were essential in the old world.

Time and again surveys have shown consumers would rather watch than read – because visual communication is so much faster.

Most people also apparently remember more from watching a video rather than reading.

How does this affect your business?

Firstly be aware that change online creeps up on you, sometimes fast and usually by the time you have realised you need to switch tactics it’s too late.

Online change goes through cycles – what starts as something that young people adopt early always shifts towards older age groups over time. Facebook is now widely regarded as an “old person’s platform”.

TikTok might have started as a platform for dancing and lip-synching teens but since the emergence of TikTok SEO it’s become the platform of the future for forward-thinking businesses.

If it’s not “the” platform for you then maybe consider it as part of a marketing combination that compliments but works together.

Digital guru and influencer Gary Vee advises that TikTok and LinkedIn are the platforms for 2022 and many of the young up-and-coming TikTok creator agencies are also adopting this dual platform approach.

Other influencers use a TikTok/YouTube approach or even use Instagram.

Secondly, if you are trying to sell goods or services in the future you will need to adapt your marketing strategies to those of your customers.

This obviously applies to location-dependent businesses but also as time goes by even your older customers will be looking toward short video.

Understand the benefits of short video TikTok style.

Short video as a marketing tool is quick to make.

It allows you to make those touches of marketing more easily – albeit that online those touches might need to be more numerous.

Video, TikTok style is more casual so you can show your personality more easily – remember people buy people.

Anne Gould is a journalist, former magazine and newspaper editor and video content and visibility consultant.