Suparshv Chopra | Director – Digital Media

Very recently, Google discovered that it is not just YouTube that is facing a threat from popular social media apps like Instagram or TikTok but it’s also their core services such as Google Search & Google Maps that are losing their popularity amongst Gen Z . Based on a recent study conducted by Google, as much as 40% of Gen Z are using these social media platforms as a search engine. 

I have penned down my two cents on why this is becoming a growing trend amongst the most sought-after target group and how brands/advertisers can adapt to this changing audience behaviour:

First the why:

As quoted by Prabhakar Raghavan (VP, Google Knowledge & Information Organisation) at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference, “New internet users do not have the expectation and the mindset that we have become accustomed to. The queries they ask are completely different.”  

This generation is thriftier than millennials, chooses practicality over customer experience &, most importantly, prefers visual content over plain text.

According to Think with Google, 85% of teenagers within Gen Z use YouTube to regularly find content, while 80% of Gen Z says YouTube videos are very useful in learning new things. This re-emphasises how aggressively Gen Z seeks visual content. Video is becoming their first stop on the path of discovery. Google’s research also highlights that this new generation is turning to social video apps when looking for new places or experiences instead of finding their next destination through Google Maps or Google Search. 

Social media platforms not only provide the content Gen Z seeks in their preferred format, but also supports that content with proof points in the form of reviews and feedback from the community they trust in comments or chat sections. In their eyes, this makes it easier and more efficient to make the correct decisions.

Next steps for brands/advertisers:

The rising popularity of short-form videos made Tiktok the most downloaded app in the world (Q1’22). It has forced big tech giants such as Facebook, Google, Snapchat, etc. to follow suit and create their own short-form video offering. It is becoming imperative for brands to respond to this demand for short-form videos by adding it to their content strategy. As per our learnings, here are some of the best practices to follow when creating short-form video content:

  1. Tailor your video content to each platform
  2. Leverage User Generated Content wherever possible
  3. Use content creators or influencers to drive higher engagement
  4. Ride on the current trends quickly and thoughtfully 
  5. Go beyond the marketing messages and produce educational content related to the brand
  6. Focus on the first few seconds and make them a thumb-stopper
  7. Have a clear call to action in the end

Brands should also understand other ways they can take advantage of these new trends. Creating and publishing a rich depository of short-form video content should not be restricted to social media platforms. It should also be made available on the brand’s website. This will boost the brand’s SEO efforts as Google announced that they will leverage AI to analyse videos on the web and show users a more rich and visual heavy search results to their queries.  

Your target group’s behaviour is changing, are you up for the challenge?