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Study Shows Surge in Young People Using Social for Discovery

A new study highlights a growing trend: young people are increasingly turning to social media platforms for discovery. The study by Forbes Advisor and Talker Research involved 2,000 U.S. internet users to shed light on the evolving consumer habits of different demographics.

Notably, it reveals that Gen Z – those born between 1997 and 2006 – are 46% more likely than other demographics to use social media platforms over Google to search. Meanwhile, 35% of millennials (born between 1981 and 1996) are turning to social for discovery.

This finding is in line with Google’s own references to platforms like TikTok and Instagram eating into the consumer base for its core products, Search and Maps.

Interestingly, the study also looks at what people are searching for on social apps versus Google search.

Chart showing topics Gen Z are turning to social media versus Google to search for

It finds that Gen Z users predominantly explore fashion, beauty, food, and craft-related trends on social media: areas tied closely to self-care and DIY projects. In contrast, they rely on Google for significant purchases, travel information, and professional services.

Another standout trend is the shift to mobiles for discovery. The study finds 40% of Gen Z and 39% of millennials use primarily their phones for internet access, pointing to the growing importance of mobile-optimized websites and apps for companies.

Other standout findings include:

  • TikTok has overtaken Instagram as the preferred platform for business discovery.
  • Overall, a quarter of respondents said they only or primarily use social media to search online.
  • A quarter of respondents said that they find new brands on social media daily.
  • There is a shift towards people preferring more dynamic and interactive digital experiences.

In conclusion, a growing number of young people are relying on social for connectivity and to search for primary information.

With established social apps taking on this role, the study offers insights into a potential factor for the rising trend of event-based startups aiming to address the ongoing loneliness epidemic through IRL meetups.

Read the full report of the study’s findings here.

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