Updated July 14, 2023
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Social Discovery Survival Guide //

Google shared some shocking new data in July 2022. It revealed that approximately 40% of Gen Z shoppers (10-25 years old and 25% of the U.S. populace) now use TikTok or Instagram to find new products and restaurants rather than entering keywords into Google Search.

This shift in search behavior is indicative of a wider trend in shifting consumer behaviours, similar to the 2016 move from desktop search to mobile search. It will have the same impact on brands’ ability to connect with customers of all ages because visual discovery provides a better customer experience. As new budgeting methods like paid media dollars are developed, this new trend may have a greater impact on a brand’s bottom line.


The Impact of on Businesses

Social Discovery is gaining popularity and consumers are now more likely to find products through social apps than traditional brand-owned channels. This means that brands who want to engage customers at all stages of their journey should consider optimizing social channels to meet this shift in search behavior.

Social Discovery, like all marketing trends in general, will not be limited to one user group. In this instance, it is Gen Z. Many Allison+Partners non-Gen Z friends have made the change. Our Digital Director, Alyssa is currently planning her trip to Spain via TikTok. Cassie, our social guru turned to Instagram to find new restaurants in her new area.

Marketing teams need to change their approach to brand channels in order to optimize for Social Discovery.

  • Reach out to others
  • Content for Influencers
  • Social word-of-mouth referrals

These social media data could have an impact on digital advertising priorities. Campaigns may shift more towards paid social media ads or influencer partnerships to increase visibility.


The Trusted Guide to This New Marketing Landscape

Allison+Partners can help you make this disruption work for your benefit. We have given a brief overview of how brands can benefit from this new migration towards Social Discovery.

We’ll keep you updated as we learn more about Social Discovery. Stay up-to-date on the latest trends and news in Social Discovery by visiting our microsite or subscribing to receive updates.


Better Customer Experience

Although this is not a new phenomenon, Millennials have been “searching” on Pinterest for years. However, the significant increase in search on social media apps has made this a momentous time for brand marketers.

All major social media platforms TikTok and Instagram are trying out different ways to experiment with shoppable ads, dynamic new uses video, 3D imagery and AI-powered contextual recommendation. This creates experiences that are more engaging, raw, and immersive than text-based searches.


Example: A TikTok review vs. a Yelp review. Which one gives you a better idea of what the customer will experience?

Three core areas are used to show results for consumers looking for inspiration and recommendations via apps like Instagram:


Courtesy of Instagram

Marketers will need to prioritise certain elements of their social media strategy in order for brands to be searchable on these platforms. These include high-quality visuals (more later), popularity signals (how many people have viewed your content) and keyword optimization in areas such as usernames bios and hashtags.


Example

Consumer keywords: skincare routine, workout routine, summer outfits, best Amazon deals, #BookTok


Learn more about Social Discovery from BuzzFeed


The Best Visuals Win

Get a good review with good visuals
Get a good review with good visuals

Google’s search engine is focused on providing accurate information that consumers trust. While the next wave in Social Discovery will not abandon accuracy (and should), it will offer greater opportunities for visual storytelling.

Visual Search has been a part of brand marketing for a long time. Google’s algorithm prioritizes pages that are optimized for Google Image search. Google recently experimented with a visual shopping experience for Search that emphasizes imagery more than text.

Social Discovery takes visuals to the next level. Visual quality and visual type are key to customer retention and engagement. This includes prioritizing videos (including YouTube and TikTok) and interactive content such as quizzes and live streams, and even maps on platforms such as Instagram.

Google’s search engine is focused on providing accurate information that consumers trust. While the next wave in Social Discovery will not abandon accuracy (and should), it will offer greater opportunities for visual storytelling.

Visual Search has been a part of brand marketing for a long time. Google’s algorithm prioritizes pages that are optimized for Google Image search. Google recently experimented with a visual shopping experience for Search that emphasizes imagery more than text.

Social Discovery takes visuals to the next level. Visual quality and visual type are key to customer retention and engagement. This includes prioritizing videos (including YouTube and TikTok) and interactive content such as quizzes and live streams, and even maps on platforms such as Instagram.

For example, you can see that consumers are turning to Google Maps or Apple Maps to locate locations, user reviews, photos, and other information which will help them make their final buying decisions ( source).


How Social Discovery Influences Insights & Analytics

Search Traffic may be Disrupted

Social Discovery is becoming more prominent, so you’ll likely see a decrease in organic traffic for key terms. Don’t panic. It happens across many industries and brands, especially those that target Gen Z and younger millennials. Social Discovery will make up any loss in traffic to your website if you place priority on it. It isn’t limited to these demographics. Even though some industries are more disrupted than others, this trend is widespread across all ages.

New Paid Search Strategies

SEM budgets might need to be reprogrammed depending on the persona groups. Take a look at your data. In the short-term, however, we have seen data that supports a shift of 40-50% for Gen Z peopleas and 10-20% for older Millennials, Gen X, and Boomers. Social or influencer programs may provide more efficiency immediately, but it’s worth testing and learning.

Understand Owned Soci vs. Social

Social Discovery will likely require more paid social in order to reach your own channels and grow them. People who follow or like your brand are more likely to become superfans and be able to advocate for it. They may be engaging with you on social media as a customer service channel. Don’t limit your attention to owned channels.

Increase Your Conversation Analysis

You should ensure that you are capturing insights (e.g. emerging trends, influential voice, volume) for your company and your competitors as well as unbranded conversations that influence perceptions of your products. This is a great opportunity for customer service and marketing to work together to create product innovation. Pay attention and respond quickly.

Rethink your KPIs

Social Discovery might require you to reevaluate your key performance indicators. You shouldn’t be measuring the same things every year out of habit. Instead, think about the areas where you can predict and monitor the impacts on your business.


How Social Discovery Influences Your Content Marketing Strategy

Social media
Social media

Change Existing Content Strategies

This new trend in search behavior could require strategic changes to your content strategy and digital plans, depending on how they are currently structured. If paid search was an earlier priority, it might yield more return to switch dollars to advertising or to use influencers on the social media. This strategy can help increase brand reach on platforms where consumers expand or shift their shopping habits.

Evaluate Formats

From YouTube’s 15-minute videos to YouTube’s 15-second videos, we have come a long ways. YouTube now has 15-second vertical videos. Your content strategy should produce content in all formats. It is much easier to create new content than it is to start from scratch. This isn’t just about resizing assets. To find the best fit, consider how the customer interacts with the content.

Create Content for Influencers

Brands need to create content that is not only shareable but also helps influencers, employees, and brand ambassadors tell your brand story. You can enhance the brand of an influencer by providing top-quality content that helps them tell better stories about you. Your brand channels will be seen by fewer consumers. Let influencers know what your preferred look, style, and voice is.

Get the Speed that Works for You

TikTok happens fast. This can make it difficult for brands. That’s okay. Many brands don’t have the budget to be on every channel. You should leverage people from your company on channels that are most important to you and where they have the greatest impact. This framework will enable your brand to operate at today’s speed and see the best results.


How Social Discovery Influences Customer Service


Reach Customers Wherever They Are

Many brands continue to drive customers via social media (where consumers can ask for help and get a fast response) or email (where brands pay time to reply). Your customers will be more connected if you interact with them on social media.

New Channels

This is an excellent reason for brands to start TikTok’s influencer or brand presence. Social media can be a great way to increase brand awareness, particularly among Gen Z and millennial consumers.

Flip the Script

Many companies outsource customer support or use chatbots to assist customers. This can sometimes leave you with a weaker client base. While customer service is often seen as a loss leader in a business where cost reduction is paramount, there are strong opportunities to build brand loyalty through consistent and solid customer service. It can be beneficial for your brand’s long-term success to take a closer look at the customer experience of your brand.


Social Discovery and Social

Social media user
Social media user

The Cons Umer Funnel Is Shifting

Consider the possibility that social media has become less about brand awareness or advocacy and more about funnel conversions mid-to-lower down. A growing number of consumers today are realizing this, and using social media to accelerate their progress through the funnel is a great way to do it. This mindset can be applied to content planning by directing social content to BOTF audiences in order for you both to capture engagement.

Boosting Posts is Crucial

These new consumer behavior patterns make reach a priority for Social Discoveryes. On-platform advertising and boosting is the best way to increase social reach. This is a great way to increase your ROI. Make sure you are boosting the right content to the right channels for the right people.


Tap Into Paid Social Ads

Brands should invest in social advertising and sync their social media plans with their organic content strategy. This can help you shift priorities in a changing world by reaching more people with relevant content. This is a great area for niche marketing that will increase advertising efficiency.

You are on TikTok (Even if You Don’t Know It).

Many brands don’t use TikTok because of security concerns, budgets, or resource limitations. Don’t mistakenly think you aren’t on TikTok simply because your brand doesn’t have a handle. You are on TikTok. However, your brand doesn’t have any voice in the conversation. Google is also getting in on the action by forming partnerships that will allow it to index TikTok videos in Google Search Results. We recommend that you engage with TikTok even in small increments.


Social Discovery and Influencer Marketing

Influencer marketing is a big opportunity

Influencer marketing is a way for brands to reach consumers through their own channels, or on TikTok.

Keeps Building Trust

Social users, particularly Gen Z, tend to trust content from influencers more than brands when researching online. CeraVe was a pioneer in TikTok trends and a great example of this. In those early days, “skinfluencers” boosted brand awareness and sold out products without any marketing or product shift.

Build Long-Term Relationships

The 2019 research by Allison+Partners showed that influencers desire a stronger voice in content creation. This trend will only accelerate as brand channels become less relevant.


How Social Discovery Influences Employee and Customer Advocacy


Give power to the people

Your brand’s most passionate followers and employees can be a powerful communications tool. You can give them the content that they want to share on their social media channels.


The Niche

Consumer trendsetters from niche groups will drive consumer change faster than most brands can respond. Brands will need to make sure content creators have the right information and tools to share their knowledge with others.


Empower employees

It is easy to overlook the impact that employees have on their family and friends. But it will only get more important. Gen Z expects employers to have a clear purpose and to contribute to something more than just profits. Brands that live their stated missions will have happy employees who will help grow the company and share their experiences.


The New Normal

Social Discovery is here, and it will continue to evolve in the months and years ahead. Consider your experience as a customer when you start to think about how Social Discovery can be integrated into your daily strategy. What brand interactions bring you joy? What are the ones that make your stomach churn? You can use this to help you see your customer from a new perspective.

Let’s end with this: Traditional search is different from Social Discovery in that a landing page with the right keywords can predictably bring in traffic to specific brand channels. You then had to convince consumers via ads or ranking in the top results to tell their side of the story.

Social Discovery will allow us to have greater control over the content we receive by using our interests, likes, and geographic locations. Individual content will be more important than brands and the consumer will likely be more educated before they see your side of the story. However, great brands with great plans and strong brands will be able to do just fine.

Visit our microsite or contact us at [email protected] for more information on how you can leverage this new trend to your advantage.

The post Social Discovery Survival Guide was first published on American Marketing Association.

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