TikTok is changing soon
By Tommy Clark
<aside> 💡 relevant platform updates and/or social media news, with your take on how it will affect the day-to-day of the typical social media manager.
1) TikTok Is Becoming A Search Engine 🔎
TLDR: TikTok is coming for Google’s throne. And you need to pay attention.
According to Prabhakar Raghavan, Google’s SVP:
“In our studies, something like almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, they don’t go to Google Maps or Search… They go to TikTok or Instagram.”
Holy sh*t. 40 percent? Why??
Raghavan says younger internet users (this data looks at ages 18-24) look for new information in a more “visually rich” format — like TikTok videos.
TikTok is also more trustworthy, compared to Google’s SERP which is fill w/ ads and SEO optimized content (if you ignore the data harvesting, but that’s not the topic here LOL).
Just look at this comparison:
· 2 ads above the fold · Super text heavy
· Mostly visuals · No ads (yet… that’s coming) · Multiple people visible
See the difference?
This isn’t new. For months, TikTok users (mostly in the younger generation) have been clamoring about how they’re using TikTok to search for stuff now.
But here’s what is new…
- Tech Crunch published an article on it, so every tech bro is clamoring about it now… lmao
- In the past week TikTok has started explicitly pushing the search engine function to users through an ad that appears when you first open the app. I tried to find a link to it, but couldn’t. Trust me here.
Want to see more?
Do a quick Twitter search with the query “TikTok search engine.” Seems like a lot of tweets have appeared in the past week or so on the topic. People are talking. Momentum is picking up.
This isn’t stopping any time soon — so it’s best to start thinking about how this will affect your content strategy now. You know, it’s better to stay ready than to get ready.
Tommy’s Take: I’m part of Gen Z (22). But man, I felt like a boomer when I first heard about TikTok being used as a search engine.
That changed for me when I was planning my next trip abroad. I needed to find a hostel in Madrid. Minor problem. I don’t know anyone in Madrid — so it was up to me to find a safe, fun place to stay.
And I’d been on a travel influencer kick since my month abroad in Barcelona, so I’d already seen a few videos hit my FYP covering “best hostels in Europe,” “best party hostels,” etc…
Which got me thinking… what if I try searching “best hostels Madrid?”
I did. And I got this page full of results:
(Also notice the “others searched for” bar encouraging the search behavior even more)
After sifting through those videos, I saw a common theme. People kept recommending this place called Cats Hostel Madrid. Probably something to it. So then I went over to my web browser and pulled up hostelworld.com (great site if you travel btw).
Typed in the name of the place to verify 1) that it existed 2) that it was legit.
And there it was. 9.1 rating. 9430 reviews. Legit.
So they got my money — and it all started with TikTok search.
See how this behavior translates over to:
- home decor ideas
- fitness tips
Really, any niche you can think of.
My advice: don’t get left behind.
BUT… deep breaths. We need to think about this rationally. There’s gonna be a lot of people (i.e. TiKTOk cOAcHEs) yelling about this trend. It’s fear mongering.
You don’t need to overhaul your entire strategy right this second. That would be stupid. But you should start thinking about how to include more searchable content — and what that looks like over time for your brand.
Searchable content is going to be (and already kinda is) a great opportunity for brands to get in front of high-intent customers.
You’ll be able to create content that directly answers customer questions, overcomes objections, and addresses pain points — and do it in a format that customers trust.
I asked my friend Kevin Graham, social media manager for Manscaped, for his best advice on how brands can prepare for TikTok’s potential pivot to search.
Here’s his take on how to create killer searchable content:
- Solve the problem users are searching for with storytelling
- Use keywords in your caption and in the text on screen
- Address audience pain points and give solutions
Kevin believes that TikTok content will shift away from trends and more to search + storytelling.
I don’t think ‘trending’ content meant to hit the FYP will ever disappear completely (I don’t think Kevin does either).
But, I do think it’s reasonable to assume search will become a bigger and bigger focus over the coming months + years.
The two types of content will live in tandem. And the best content will be the content that is compelling enough to hit the FYP and programmed with the right keywords to be searchable.
If my business was going hard on TikTok right now… I’d focus on building up a bank of content that your target audience would search for.
Pair this searchable content (to capture demand that already exists) with trending content (to create awareness + demand) and you’ll be in a good spot.
I’m excited to see how this evolves. Only time will tell.
PS – I also did a thread on this topic. If you liked this… head over **here** and like + retweet the thread. Shameless plug, but that helps get this newsletter in front of more SMMs who need it!
2) The best times to post on Twitter ⏰
TLDR: Sprout Social (you’ve probably heard that name before if you work in social) ran a study on the ‘best times’ to post on Twitter. Here’s the article.
I know. Your initial reaction is to dismiss the piece altogether — it depends on the brand.
Let’s sift through the data though. According to the article:
- Best times to post on Twitter: Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays at 9 a.m.
- Best days to post on Twitter: Tuesdays and Wednesdays
- Worst days to post on Twitter: Sundays
The interesting part?
This trend “shifted significantly” from the previous year. In 2022, peak engagement on Twitter is “much more concentrated during mid mornings and middays throughout the week”
The Sprout article combed through a few industries and gave the best and worst posting times for each… but the trend of high mid-day + mid-week engagement held up.
Ok cool… but how should this data change the way you think about posting on Twitter (or any other platform)?
Tommy’s Take: This data wasn’t at all surprising to me. It didn’t lead to a mind blowing revelation. And that’s a good thing.
I know my audience. I understand how they behave. And that informs my content posting times.
Looking at the data I’ve gathered over the past 6 months on the Triple Whale account, Tuesday-Thursday from ~9am to ~3pm is our “prime time.”
Monday does okay. Saturday and Sunday are slower (because people have lives).
If you’re relying on a 3rd party article to decide the best time for you to post on Twitter… you’ve already lost.
That said — there is value in these pieces.
- Validating your understanding of your audience.
If my hypothesis about best posting times and what the Sprout data said weren’t even close, I would want to dig deeper and see why. Am I missing something?
- Testing. You should always test.
For example, say there was strong data in the article to support brands in the ecommerce industry having high engagement at 8pm on a Saturday…
Weird. I would have never guessed that.
But with that insight, I might test a post at that time in the coming few weeks. Worst case, it flops and I move on. Best case, I found a new opportunity for higher engagement with my target audience.
To round this out:
These articles aren’t gospel. Don’t blindly use them to build a social strategy. Use them to help validate your hypotheses and identify new opportunities to test.
Now, let’s break down a viral post 👇
WHY IT POPPED OFF
<aside> 💡 Breaking down a viral meme or post and why you think it did well. Could be a good conversation starter as well, generating replies to the email
This is the perfect engagement question.
By the numbers:
- 136,439 poll responses
- 2140 replies
- 2392 retweets
- 8991 likes
Insane. The cool part?
You can (and should) copy this for your own brand. Here’s the simple, 3-part formula Star Wars used to create the perfect engagement question… 👇
- MAKE IT SIMPLE
Keep the question simple. The longer and more complex the the question get, the less likely a social media user is going to stop and engage with it.
The Star Wars SMM crushed this. The question here is short (5 words), punchy, and easy-to-understand.
Rule of thumb: if you find yourself using commas (especially more than one) in your posts… it’s probably too long. More periods. Less commas. Like this. 😉
- MAKE IT POLARIZING
Boring, safe content doesn’t get noticed.
Want more engagement? Your content needs to trigger emotion.
One problem though. Emotion can get dangerous — especially from a brand account. The last thing you want is legal knocking on your door (or pinging you in Slack) because you set off an internet firestorm.
Good news: you don’t need to invoke politics or controversy to be ‘polarizing.’
Pick a prompt or question that leads to a polarizing discussion in your industry, but leaves no room for real negativity. This Star Wars tweet is a great example.
Nobody knows how to pronounce ‘AT-AT.’ Do you pronounce it Ay-tee Ay-tee? Or do you pronounce it at-at?
My answer: 🤷🏻♂️
Star Wars fans hold their opinions strongly — and will express those opinions in the replies of any tweet they can.
That’s why it’s a great engagement question.
On top of that, there’s no room for this question to lead to anything problematic. No matter how heated the discussion may get… it’d be hard for a brand to get canceled over the pronunciation of a fictional military vehicle.
(Although I wouldn’t put it past some Star Wars fans 🤣)
Here’s an example of me using a similar approach on the Triple Whale account a few weeks back:
I picked a ‘silly’ debate within the ecommerce industry, and leaned into it for engagement. No surprise — it got good engagement relative to our baseline (trying to get on those Star Wars numbers one day 😤).
Now for the final piece of the puzzle…
- MAKE IT FRICTIONLESS
You have to make it as easy as possible for your community to answer the question.
If your engagement question requires a paragraph-long answer… you won’t get many responses.
This isn’t always a ‘bad’ thing. Sometimes you might be okay with less answers, but from a higher intent audience. Depends on the objective of the post.
But if your goal is to engagement bait (let’s call it what it is), you should set up your question in a way that’s easy to answer — like the Star Wars social media manager did.
TLDR: To get more responses, make your engagement questions simple, polarizing, and frictionless to answer.
SOCIAL MEDIA RESOURCES
<aside> 💡 3 resources (books, articles, threads, pods) that Tommy consumed in the past week that will help his audience become a better SMM. 3-5 sentences per line.
I was today years old when I found out there’s an entire YouTube channel dedicated to explaining the context behind memes.
This is a social media manager’s dream.
Twitter’s lawsuit against Elon Musk (after pulling out from the deal to buy Twitter) was released to the public today.
And it’s hilarious.
An Elon 💩 emoji tweet made it into the legal documents, along with a few other memes.
This thread from Trung Phan highlights the key points.
Tracey’s newsletter is a must read if you work in content. I go hard in the paint on all things social, but Tracey covers more of wider content marketing.
Pair our two newsletters and you’ll have the knowledge you need to confidently lead your brand’s content marketing efforts.