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Navigating Social Media Platforms as Cutting-Edge Search Engines

Guest Article | Andrew Ferdinando - Founder of StratHub

Andrew has been a friend of RX for many years. He is an incredibly clever dude who has been at the leading edge of digital marketing before it was even a thing. His capability has evolved over the decades and while he is still a digital guru of sorts, he has recently developed and launched Strat Hub solving a vital problem - allowing marketers plan and develop strategy work in a centralised and elegant way. More importantly it surfaces it in a purposeful and usable way, allowing effective and efficient cooperative working but also delivering the results and impact in a more business focused fashion (my words not his!)


Meet my 25-year-old friend, a typical young Kiwi who recently jetted off to Europe in search of sunshine. Leading up to her trip, she delved into extensive research, exploring destinations, beaches, and restaurants she planned to visit. Surprisingly, her research journey took an unconventional route - she bypassed Google entirely and turned to TikTok and Instagram instead.

For many marketers, the idea of Instagram and TikTok falls neatly into the "social media" category. While this categorization isn't entirely wrong, it vastly underestimates their potential. In reality, these platforms serve as much more than just avenues for social interaction. Particularly for younger users, they function as primary research tools, challenging the traditional role of search engines.

Consider this scenario: when searching for fun activities in Barcelona, Google certainly provides useful information, but it has limitations. A typical Google search yields static, text-based results, offering a limited perspective. However, if the same search is performed on TikTok, the user is presented with a diverse array of rich format videos. These videos breathe life into the options available, providing a vibrant and immersive experience that a Google results page simply cannot match.

Acknowledging this shift in user behavior, Google recently conceded that TikTok, as a search engine, poses a significant threat to their dominance. Yet, TikTok is not the sole contender in this arena. People now search on various social media platforms, including Instagram, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, and LinkedIn, among others. Social media platforms have transformed into search engines in their own right.

So, the next time you craft your TikTok or Instagram marketing strategy, consider classifying it not only under "social media" but also under "search." Embracing this perspective will revolutionize your approach to content planning. By recognizing social media platforms as search engines, you'll unlock innovative ways to engage your audience and stay ahead in the ever-evolving digital landscape.


Andrew Ferdinando is Founder of StratHub, a strategy and planning app for marketing teams.

StratHub provides a framework for marketing teams to create, review and evolve simple 1 page strategies for each of the channels they employ. It connects your strategy work with your day to day planning and documents everything in 1 place.


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