By Nancy Williams, Democracy Intern

I’m a typical Gen Z in many ways and the thing I have in common with most other Gen Zers is my dependance on TikTok. It has fast become my favourite social media platform.

According to Google data, 40% of people my age use TikTok instead of Google for searching but this was no surprise to me, I actually thought it would be more!

A quick dig through my Google search history shows I only use Google to go straight to a particular website when I’m getting clothing or concert tickets. However, when purchasing on a brand’s website, I often check TikTok as well for exclusive discounts or potential sales.

These days, I use TikTok to search pretty much everything. It has quickly transformed from a ‘dancing’ platform to a hub of knowledge, expertise and entertainment.

Personally, I think the main attraction to searches on TikTok is the visual element that Google lacks. For example, I have recently wanted to explore different recipes and foods that I can cook. Where did I look for inspo? TikTok.

Not only can I watch the creator make the dish, but I can then save the recipe for future use, read comments from other users and share with my friends without having to leave the app. Another useful aspect is that I can tailor my search to my needs, Gluten free? There’s a creator with hundreds of gluten free recipes to try; low calorie options? Thousands of different options; dishes from other countries? I can find a native italian who has the best tips for fresh pasta! Chefs, foodies, weight loss experts, students, bakers, nutritionists and even parents have all got TikTok accounts and have all shared video content based around my search for ‘recipes’.

A quick search on Google for recipes returns the typical ‘BBC Good Food’, ‘Jamie Oliver’ and ‘NHS’ results, which I feel are more targeted to the older generation. The websites are plagued with ads and I have to read half a page before I can even get to the ingredients list.

Despite YouTube’s popularity over the years as the go-to video medium, TikTok is arguably taking over. Statistics show that TikTok’s average watch time has overtaken YouTube’s. Personally, YouTube was the social media of choice when I was younger and I enjoyed following the rise of ‘YouTube stars’.

There can be downsides to too much TikTok however. Through my use of TikTok I have noticed that my attention span has dramatically decreased. Although TikTok has increased the recording length to a maximum of three minutes, the length of a TikTok is typically much closer to 30 seconds, thus my attention span is (embarrassingly) closer to the 30 second mark.

YouTube videos are typically much longer, around 12 minutes, meaning that most people are uninterested in watching the same type of content for a long period of time compared to the 30 seconds of content on TikTok. YouTube still proves popular for many and I still occasionally use the platform but a fraction of what I used to.

‘Tik Tok is for kids’ is a common excuse I hear as to why a business doesn’t use TikTok. Unfortunately they’re wrong – with more than 1 billion users, TikTok is the most viewed platform surpassing both Google and YouTube.

Furthermore, businesses that claim they don’t have time to post on TikTok are damaging their brand’s growth, especially to Gen Zers. TikTok is the cheapest source of traffic for business leads, no matter the follower count, just one video could have the potential to go viral and reach hundreds of thousands of people.

The benefit of TikToks anti-‘picture perfect’ vibe is that costs and time are reduced within the studio and consumers can relate to the ‘real’ unfiltered side of a brand.

Research has shown that three in five people (61%) like brands better when they participate in the newest trends, while 56% of users feel closer to brands they see on TikTok.

As a result, by consistently publishing new material, you can stay one step ahead of the competition while establishing brand trust and brand recognition.

Here at Democracy we are joining the hype and experimenting with the power of TikTok, hoping to share what we love to do and reach new potentials! It will be interesting to see the growth of our own TikTok page over time!