Social Media as a Search Engine?

February 2, 2024 BY Francesca Allen - Get free updates of new posts HERE

Ever wondered what was wrong with the boiler when you got back home on a winter’s day and stepping into the house was like stepping into the Arctic? Needed that extra bit of home décor inspiration when it came to redecorating? Wanted to know if buying the newest skincare product was going to be worth it? Chances are, you have used a search engine to get your answer.

The Evolution of Search Engines

We are all familiar with the four colours of the most recognisable search engine in the world. Ever had a question? Google it. Wanted to look at a product before purchasing it? Google it. I’m confident that those two words have slipped out of everyone’s mouths at some point during their technological lives.

Throughout the years, search engines have captured the evolving art of personalisation to provide the user with a tailored experience. Demographics, location and previous search history are just some of the factors influencing the algorithm. Gone are the days of pages upon pages of text results appearing. Now, users are treated to visuals which are normally positioned right at the top of the page. Us humans tend to favour visuals over reams of text, and search engines have found a powerful way to engage brands and users alike.

Search engines have massively taken advantage of knowing the user’s location. If you search for ‘cupcakes’, chances are sponsored posts from businesses selling cupcakes or even local bakeries precisely pin-pointed on a map appear right under the search bar.

But, are search engines the only ones to have evolved?

The Evolution of Social Media

The answer to my previous question is… no! What once were platforms purely to connect with friends, reconnect with lost relatives or share important (or sometimes pointless, we’ve all done it) life updates with one another, have now turned into powerful tools for both users and brands.

Nowadays, alongside posting pictures of pretty-looking desserts and sunsets (guilty), users are turning to social media to discover, learn more about and even purchase new products. According to TINT, 75.78% of consumers have discovered products and brands on social platforms.

Despite being more prevalent among the younger generation, this is a pretty high statistic, showing that most people are beginning to ditch or at least intertwine the action of beginning the consumer decision making process with a search engine alongside social media.

Social media platforms now typically feature a search bar where users can search for any term, product or keyword. Sure enough, the platform takes them to relevant or sponsored posts about the item they are searching for. This can lead them to a brand’s business page, a high-performing post or an influencer’s ad.

Some social media platforms now offer the feature to ‘quick view’ products before taking them to the brand’s website, allowing the user to get all the information they need without leaving the platform.

This is probably not all social media platforms have done to harness the power of the user and I am sure the evolution of it will not stop here with the introduction of AI and virtual reality.

What Can Businesses Do?

It is no secret that being present on social media in general, if done well, is beneficial for businesses. However, ensuring that you keep up to date with new features and user behaviour could be key to maximising reach and exposure.

Businesses should ensure that they use relevant keywords in their copy after conducting thorough keyword analysis to enhance the position of their posts.

Businesses should also consider how each social media platform is used differently. For example, some platforms are purely used for sharing images and videos whereas other platforms are used for connecting with one another. A thorough understanding of user behaviour and intent should be adopted before optimising your posts.

Written by Francesca Allen