The Rise of Social Search: Strategies for Increasing Engagement

Posted on by Leslie Licano

Where’s the first place you go when you need to find information online? You might head straight to Google, Bing or another search engine. Or, like one out of every three people, you might head to social media platforms such as TikTok, Facebook, Instagram or YouTube.

This type of approach is called social search—using social media as a search engine—and it is increasingly becoming a go-to strategy for finding answers. This is especially true for Gen Z and millennials, with over half (59%) hitting up social sites over search engines.

So, if social search on the rise, how can brands integrate tailored social search strategies into their communications mixes?

Why Is Social Search so Popular?

Social search gives personalized, easily digestible results, which are curated from users’ trusted networks and communities. So instead of wading through a list of impersonal links (like you might find yourself doing on Google), social search allows users to quickly peruse and find simple image or video answers from an established network.

The New York Times quoted a Gen Z consumer saying the videos found on TikTok “don’t seem as biased” as the search results from Google. Since most Google results serve pay-per-click (PPC) ads at the top, it makes sense that social results would seem more genuine. The content from social search has most often been posted by other customers, which lends a level of social proof to the results.

Why Should Communications Teams Care About Social Search?

PR and marketing teams need to be on top of this emerging trend. According to a study by Tint, nearly 76% of consumers have used social media to search for or discover a new product, and about 69% have followed through on a purchase based on something they found on social media. These are already high percentages and social media’s share of search is likely to grow.

Integrate Social Search Into PR and Marketing Strategies

Best practices for social media SEO include:

Select the best platforms: You’ll obviously want to be where your customers are, so take time to research and re-confirm the top platforms that are more likely to reach your target audience.

Create the right content: Take a look at the performance of your current content, and see what gets the best engagement. Then check out your competition, and review its content and engagement. Be sure to deliver content that provides value and answers common questions. Consider product demo videos, Q&A, unpacking videos, influencer marketing, infographics or other content that will help the consumer move through the customer journey.

Use high-quality content: It’s worth it to invest in professional design, photography or videography to be sure that your content will attract search attention. High-quality content will stand out from the crowd.

Use keywords and hashtags: This is a common best practice. Social media SEO can strongly benefit from keyword research and integration, as well as hashtags. This will help your content become discoverable when customers search for common keywords or topics.

Tap current trends where appropriate: Not every trend will be right for your brand, but when it is appropriate, jumping into the conversation with interesting or fun content can deliver rewarding results.

Engage with your audience: You can’t just post and be done. Be sure to like or reply to comments when applicable.

Encourage UGC: This type of content lends a great deal to social proof. Customers will want to see information from your brand as well as from actual users of your product or service. Encouraging and sharing UGC can add another layer to your message.

Find YOU on Social

The emerging trend of social search marks a notable shift in how users seek information, discover brands and engage with content online. Its popularity stems from its ability to provide personalized results curated from users’ trusted networks, fostering a sense of community and authenticity. For communicators, embracing social search will enable the creation of targeted and effective campaigns. By integrating best practices such as choosing the right platforms, posting content of value, integrating keywords and hashtags and engaging with customers, brands can foster lasting connections with their audiences and help steer them through the buyer’s journey.

Leslie Licano is co-founder of Beyond Fifteen Communications, Inc.

Editor’s Note: This article originally appeared on, a sister publication of Chief Marketer.


Related Posts

Comments are closed.

Chief Marketer Videos

by Chief Marketer Staff

In our latest Marketers on Fire LinkedIn Live, Anywhere Real Estate CMO Esther-Mireya Tejeda discusses consumer targeting strategies, the evolution of the CMO role and advice for aspiring C-suite marketers.


Call for entries now open