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While Google is under a lot of pressure these days for its anti-competitive (and some might say monopolistic) business practices, you certainly have to give the company credit for maintaining its search engine dominance for so long. By some estimates, Google still has a 90% market share of the global search business.
And that’s despite repeated efforts by a whole range of competitors to dethrone Google. Does anyone even use Yahoo Search anymore? Despite all the concerns about privacy, how many people actually use a search engine like DuckDuckGo? Perhaps the only competitor capable of challenging Google right now is Microsoft Bing, thanks to its recent investment in new ChatGPT-style artificial intelligence.
TikTok vs. Google
At one time, people thought that the rise of social media platforms would soon make Google Search superfluous. These social media platforms wanted you to start and end your day with them, and they specifically looked for ways to keep people on their platforms. If you searched for information, you searched within the social media platform itself. While the results might have been a bit wonky, they nonetheless represented a challenge to Google.
So guess what? Google has systematically clawed its way back in a world dominated by social media. A good example of this is what is happening right now at TikTok. It looks like the Chinese social media platform is now testing out Google search results. Anytime you search, you can find links to Google search results. While TikTok has been notably quiet on what exactly it’s doing right now, the common consensus is that TikTok is really leaning into search these days. And that means it is testing Google results on its search pages.
This is clearly a response to data from 2022, when Google acknowledged that more members of Generation Z were searching inside of TikTok than on Google. This obviously represented a threat to Google, and it looks like the search engine giant has gone about patching up that potential hole in its business strategy.
So who’s actually in the driver’s seat these days: TikTok or Google? By just about every available metric, TikTok is the fastest-growing social media platform on the planet. It’s already more popular than Instagram in terms of daily active minutes spent each day on the platform, and by 2025, it could overtake Facebook. That gives TikTok a huge amount of leverage when dealing with partners. But, as noted above, Google is remarkably good at detecting potential threats to its search engine dominance, and taking immediate steps to fix things.
The future of social media
Is it really possible that the future of social media is Google? For anyone who still remembers the rise and fall of Google Plus (which finally went defunct in 2019), this would seem hard to believe. The conventional wisdom is that Google just doesn’t get social media.
But if you take a closer look at how TikTok is turning to Google for search results, maybe that’s not the case at all. Maybe, just maybe, Google has found a way to carve out a role for itself on social media. And, given that TikTok is clearly the fastest-growing social media platform in the world, this means Google could play a large role in social media for years to come.