instagram and tiktok logos on mobile phones reflecting change in gen search habits as they ditch google and replace with social media

In 2024, internet usage made a significant migration from desktops to mobile devices, with a third of Americans now accessing the web exclusively through smartphones. In our study with Talker Research, we detail this shift, and the results also reveal that people have changed how they engage with both content and commerce online.

NB: This is an article from Forbes

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter and stay up to date

There’s a significant movement towards using social media platforms for more than just social interactions; platforms such as TikTok and Facebook Marketplace have become vital search and shopping tools. With 24% of participants using these apps in ways traditionally reserved for search engines, and 13% purchasing directly within these apps, the need for businesses to integrate social media into their digital strategies becomes clear.

Key Takeaways

  • There is a decline of 25%, on average, in using Google for search between Generation Z and Generation X
  • A quarter (24%) of people said they primarily use social media to search online
  • A third of people (33%) only use their cellphone to access the internet
  • Generation Z use TikTok over Google to search for a variety of topics
  • While 84% of the population still turn to search engines for brand name searches, there is a 30% decline in using search engines for this purpose between Baby Boomers (94%) and Generation Z (64%) in 2024
  • A quarter (24%) of people said they find new brands on social media daily

The nuances in digital behavior made a dramatic shift in 2024, but even more so in the way different generations approach internet usage. Generational gaps in technology use are widening, with Generation Z showing a marked decrease of 25% in Google usage compared to Generation X. This data points to a significant evolution in search habits, as younger users pivot to alternatives that better suit their informational needs and lifestyles.

Social media platforms are no longer just for connectivity but have evolved into primary search tools for a quarter of the population. This shift reflects a broader trend where traditional search engines are supplemented, or even replaced, by social network searches.

Mobile devices have become the primary gateway to the internet for one-third of the populace, with people making the move towards more portable and immediate forms of online interaction.

TikTok, in particular, has risen as a favored resource over Google for Generation Z, indicating a preference for the quick, visually driven content the platform offers.

The study also shows a 30% decline in the use of search engines for brand discovery among Generation Z compared to Baby Boomers, suggesting a shift towards finding brands directly through social media channels.

This trend is further supported by the fact that 24% of respondents discover new brands daily through social media, proving its role not just in communication, but in actively shaping consumer habits and preferences.

Read the full article at Forbes