A twist in the paradigm: TikTok as information source

Jun 11, 2024

The Emerging Sportech Opportunity


“Man is a social animal” stated Aristoteles in his work Politics around 384-322 a.C. And, as such, it has a need for information and to be updated on the happenings of the surrounding environment. Throughout History people have developed infinite means to spread news worldwide. First, it was the press. Later, the radio and the TV. Finally, the Internet.

Alongside with the rising of the Society of Information arose a considerable issue: the “information overload”. According to the Collins Dictionary, this is a situation where a subject receives so much information that they are unable to deal with it. Among the main causes of this phenomenon we find:

Wider access to data: almost total accessibility to billions of documents and media, usually provided by websites, have increased the citizen’s exposure to a high amount of information.

Ever-growing news platforms: alongside accessibility there has been an increase in the number of media and platforms dedicated to news spreading. Consequently, there is also a bigger spectrum of opinions and, therefore, more information.

Excessive advertising: as exposed by several studies, a regular person is exposed to 4.000 ads per day approximately. Of which we don’t remember half.

Birth of social media: as we already know, social media platforms have forever changed the way in which we communicate, granting us access to infinite information sites.

As reported by Statista, audiences have substituted traditional searching softwares for social media. Nearly half of interviewed users in 24 out of the 40 measured countries used social media as an information source in general. Countries like Nigeria, Thailand, Malaysia or South Africa head the ranking. While Spain is placed towards the middle.


A twist in the paradigm

In agreement with an Atrevia Lab report, we face a radical change regarding user behavior. Historically Google has been the biggest information provider worldwide. However, the latest studies have shown that TikTok is beginning to take over Google’s leadership. In line with Columbia Journalism Review, one-third of Americans aged 18–29 regularly get their news from TikTok.

The Chinese app changed the game rules from the beginning thanks to its popular short video format, which immediately caught on among the public. But, what are the keys to its success?

A direct and intuitive search channel: way ahead of other social sites like Instagram or YouTube.

Immediacy: the immediacy of platforms like TikTok ensures that users are among the first to know about unfolding events.

The shareability factor: nowadays, users want to be a part of the news process. Social media’s unique feature of shareability has contributed to a sense of participation and personal engagement in the news process. Every individual sharing a news story feels connected to it in a personal and intimate way, fostering a community around the shared information.

Its unique algorithm: which personalizes each user’s feed based on their interests rather than what their friends and families are posting.


The main uses of TikTok

As a purchase channel: leading tech brands are more searched on TikTok. The platform has surpassed Google in searches for 45% of the analyzed keywords in the sector.

Organizing trips: searches related to flights stand out with keywords like “flights to Madrid” nearing 50,000 monthly searches. Once at the destination, we continue to turn to the platform to search for things like “what to do in Amsterdam” or “what to see in Italy.”

Learning through videos: our behavior for learning new skills has completely changed. We search on TikTok for all kinds of learning-related content, from learning languages to programming courses. There is a special interest in learning about the financial sector, with keywords like “Ibex 35” standing out with more than 2 million monthly searches on TikTok. The platform has even managed to surpass Google in one of its traditional categories, recipes.

Looking for accommodation: TikTok’s format has perfectly aligned with the real estate sector. Searches about renting and buying apartments are conducted more on TikTok than on Google. For example, “rent an apartment” is searched up to 109,000 times more per month, and “vacation rental” surpasses Google by 172,000 monthly searches.

As a conclusion, the boost of social media caused a deep impact in consumers behavior regarding their searching habits. It shortened the times and granted access to a wider data spectrum. However, it also contributed to expanding the information whirlpool as well as increasing the information overload phenomenon. Will this change in the paradigm mean the end of Google’s reign?

Stay tuned!

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