Skip To Content

Is Social Media The New Search Engine?

Sep. 29, 2023 | Jailyn Glass

Black man in living room enjoying social media content on phone, smiling while using modern wireless technology. African american guy relaxing at home, online internet activity.

Social media platforms have always been known as a place to connect with loved ones through photos, videos, and messages. Over the last few years, a pivot has been made to move social media past connecting and informing users with news, consumer research, and real-time product testimonials.

Social media apps have become fully operating search engines where users conduct brand research, find their news, and do their online shopping. Let’s examine why this phenomenon developed, how it works, and how you can ensure your social strategy aligns with this shift.

Social media SEO and keywords

Traditional SEO has always relied heavily on keywords to connect users with the right solutions for their search. Over time, the web expanded from primarily an academic resource to the world’s shopping mall. Social media platforms had relatively humble beginnings as well. Once the social media world took off, consumers and content creators turned these platforms into information centers.

The most popular social media channels have begun integrating those cultural shifts into their search algorithms. These channels offer more options for search than the usual location or hashtag. For example, Instagram now allows users to search by keyword, just as traditional search engines do. Its current algorithm combs each post’s hashtags, text, and images for relevance to specific target audiences.

Facebook offers a wealth of search-targeting options as well. The social giant can find details on your user’s location, education, gender, age, work, and other critical characteristics in search.

Facebook Groups make hashtag searches by industry a snap. The keywords you uncover through those searches can help you plan your company’s keyword strategies. LinkedIn also offers similar benefits for B2B companies and their followers. The platform readily shares helpful tips on optimizing LinkedIn profiles and other content optimization strategies.

Another A-list social platform, YouTube, provides a uniquely powerful way to integrate your traditional SEO and social media SEO. Since Google owns and operates the video platform, YouTube and Google searches are practically the same. Many content consumers prefer video to text, making YouTube optimization a must.

A younger marketplace shops through social media

Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and YouTube have all established themselves with generations of marketers and consumers. However, Generation Z has turned to another, newer social media giant for its search purposes. Since the pandemic, TikTok has blossomed from a place to share quick funny videos to a leading social search engine.

TikTok started evolving its search algorithm by grouping its videos into easily searchable categories. From there, TikTok has added geo-tagging and keyword searching for captions and comments, and users can also find videos based on sounds and filters. 

Google’s researchers note that up to 40% of young consumers use TikTok as their primary search engine.

Social Media Today

What this shift means for businesses

The age bracket of your target market should influence your shift toward specific social media platforms. If your primary customer base searches for products and services on TikTok, you’ll want to build your TikTok presence. You’ll also want to weave relevant keywords, hashtags, and optimized images into your posts.

The same strategy applies to older, more traditional social media platforms. For example, a simple YouTube video offers many SEO opportunities. You can title the video file with a target keyword, optimize the description, and add multiple keyword tags. YouTube also allows you to add searchable captions, subtitles, and hashtags under various keywords or industry categories.

Remember, search engines also pay attention to social media platforms. Google, Bing, and other search engines regularly crawl social media content. You might not see direct SEO benefits from this activity, but relevant, optimized content can enhance your other SEO efforts.

New social strategies for new algorithms

If you want to ensure your target audience notices you, it’s time to reevaluate your use of social media platforms. Instead of viewing them purely as a means of communication, you’ll want to treat them as individual search engines. This approach may require you to do more work in titling, tagging, and optimizing your captions or summaries.

You may also find yourself relying more heavily on social media influencers. Audiences trust and connect with their favorite influencers more readily than brands or corporations. Personal recommendations from influencers can drive purchase decisions to an astonishing degree. 

Social Media SEO | Woman filming social media influencer content
Projections indicate that nearly one-half of American marketers will employ influencer marketing in 2023. Photo credit: Envato Elements

Instagram is the most popular social media platform for influencer marketing, followed by Facebook and YouTube. When you consider the thousands of shoppers who follow their influencer’s leads, you can imagine the effect of influencer marketing on your social media SEO.

Let our team guide your new social strategy

Social media continues to change and create new daily opportunities like the rest of the digital world. With the constant updates of features, staying in the loop on the latest social strategies can be overwhelming. Our team makes learning and researching a priority so we can keep our social partners on top of the game.

As social media evolves and becomes the new search engine, let us help you revise your social strategy to be the best it can be. By correctly using keywords, captions, and subtitles and bringing your profiles up to speed with what search algorithms are looking for, you can start to watch your account grow in line with your marketing goals.

Contact our team today to learn about our wide range of digital marketing and social media management services!

Featured Photo Credit: Envato Elements