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TikTok’s Rise as a Discovery Platform: Key Insights and Trends

The Growing Influence of TikTok as a Discovery Platform

With its unique algorithm and engaging content, TikTok is transforming into a destination for discovery. This shift presents significant opportunities for brands to connect with potential customers innovatively. Adobe’s comprehensive research, which surveyed 808 consumers and 251 business owners, delves into how TikTok is used for search and discovery and how businesses adapt their strategies to leverage this trend.

Exploring TikTok Search Trends

Adobe’s findings reveal a surprising trend: over 2 in 5 Americans use TikTok as a search engine. Consumers frequently turn to TikTok to search for new recipes, music, DIY tips, and fashion advice. This behavior is particularly pronounced among younger generations, with 64% of Gen Zers and 49% of millennials using TikTok for search. Notably, nearly 1 in 10 Gen Zers prefer TikTok over traditional search engines like Google.

TikTok the new Google

The research highlights why consumers are drawn to TikTok as a search engine. Respondents appreciate TikTok’s short, informative videos, distinct storytelling format, and personalized content tailored to their preferences. Among Gen Zers, 2 in 5 are captivated by the personalized nature of TikTok’s content. Video tutorials, product reviews, and personal stories are the most favored content types, reflecting TikTok’s strength in providing firsthand accounts and expertise.

Business Strategy Meets TikTok Search

Adobe’s research also sheds light on how business owners leverage TikTok to meet search intent. More than half of the surveyed business owners (54%) use TikTok to promote their business, posting an average of nine times per month. Additionally, 1 in 4 small business owners collaborate with TikTok influencers for product sales or promotions.

Business owners allocate an average of 15% of their marketing budget to TikTok content creation. The types of content they invest in include creative, tangential content related to their product (43%), product or service reviews (36%), video tutorials (35%), personal anecdotes (29%), and trending challenges or memes (25%).

Harnessing TikTok for Success

Key Takeaways from Adobe’s Research

  • Over 2 in 5, Americans use TikTok as a search engine.
  • Nearly 1 in 10 Gen Zers prefer TikTok over Google for search purposes.
  • More than half of business owners (54%) use TikTok to promote their business, posting an average of 9 times per month.
  • 1 in 4 small business owners use TikTok influencers for product sales or promotions.

Tapping into TikTok’s Search Power

Many American consumers are no longer using TikTok just for entertainment; they’re leveraging it as a search engine attuned to their preferences. This shift is especially evident among younger audiences, who view TikTok as a competitor to established search engines. As this trend gains momentum, businesses have a golden opportunity to harness TikTok’s potential and deliver content that resonates deeply with users.

Whether through storytelling videos, tutorials, or trending challenges, creative tools like Adobe Express can help businesses build their brand, schedule social media posts, and cater to the search intent of TikTok’s vast user base.

Shifting Consumer Behavior

Adobe’s research highlights a significant shift in consumer behavior, particularly among younger generations. With over 2 in 5 Americans using TikTok as a search engine and nearly 1 in 10 Gen Zers favoring TikTok over Google, it’s clear that the platform is altering the traditional search landscape. For advertisers, this means a paradigm shift in how we approach search engine marketing (SEM) and search engine optimization (SEO).

Opportunities for Brands

The rise of TikTok as a discovery platform offers brands unparalleled opportunities. The platform’s emphasis on short, engaging videos means that brands can connect with audiences more authentically and positively. Creating content that resonates with TikTok’s user base requires a deep understanding of the platform’s culture and trends. Brands that can effectively tap into this can achieve significant reach and engagement.

Challenges and Adaptations

While the potential is immense, leveraging TikTok effectively comes with its challenges. Consistently creating high-quality, engaging content that appeals to TikTok’s diverse audience is no small feat. According to Adobe’s research, nearly a third of business owners find boosting engagement rates challenging, and over 25% struggle with content creation and appealing to a broader consumer base. However, these challenges are not insurmountable. Tools like Adobe Express can help streamline content creation, making it easier for businesses to produce professional-looking videos that capture audience attention.


TikTok’s rise as a discovery platform is more than just a shift in how people consume content; it’s a fundamental change in the digital advertising landscape. For brands and marketers, the key to success lies in understanding and leveraging this unique platform to meet consumers where they are. As TikTok redefines search and discovery, those navigating its nuances will be well-positioned to lead in the new digital age.

In summary, TikTok is not just reshaping how users find information; it’s transforming the entire digital marketing ecosystem. By embracing this change and innovating our approach, we can harness the full potential of TikTok’s discovery capabilities, driving engagement and growth in previously unimaginable ways.

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