This week, we’re getting social. Find out why the 'Gram tops Google for search-based discovery, and how TikTok can get billions of eyeballs on your brand.

Judging a book by its cover photo

Social media is now the most important place for brand discovery and research.

George Organ



3 minute read

My wife eats with her eyes.

Well, not literally, because that would be weird and I don’t think our health insurance would cover the treatments, but figuratively.

Before we set foot in any restaurant, café or bar, she heads straight for their Instagram page. Not Google, not their website, Instagram. And depending on the quality of their content, we could be driving an hour down the coast for picture-perfect Thai or skipping a doughnut shop five minutes up the road because they didn’t post their long weekend opening hours.

There’s a lot hinging on that grid of tiny squares.

But this isn’t an article about my wife’s eating habits – it’s an important lesson for marketers on how people discover and get to know brands, because it’s easy to see how this behaviour applies to many categories beyond food, like fashion, travel, fitness, entertainment, art, tech – the list goes on.
In short
  • Increasingly, customers turn to social media for information about a brand, instead of traditional outlets and even Google.
  • Regular, relevant posting is key.
  • Don’t forget to leverage the storytelling and visual capabilities of social media to bring your brand to life.
Social media’s evolving role in the customer journey
Sure, it’s nothing new to say that social is important for brands, but it’s the role of social media in the all-important discovery and research phase of the customer journey that has evolved rapidly since COVID hit.

Traditionally, TV ads and search engines ruled the roost when it came to brand discovery. But 2020 research from GlobalWebIndex shows a significant shift in this behaviour, with 27% of people saying they’ve discovered a new product or brand during COVID via ads seen on social media, well ahead of search engines (19%) and on par with TV ads (27%)1.

This is backed up by local research that found 28.2% of Australians aged 16-64 discover new brands through ads on social media – more than brand or product websites, digital banners or consumer review websites, and only a touch behind word-of-mouth recommendations (29.4%)2 (although you could argue that social media has word-of-mouth covered, too).
Are the days of ‘Googling it’ numbered?
Similar trends emerge when you look at how we research brands.

35% of Australians now turn to social media to search for brand info2. That’s one in three customers who are bypassing Google, ignoring your beautiful (but probably expensively built) website, and turning to their favourite social platform.

And this number is only set to grow, with global research showing that 47% of Gen Z mainly use social networks when actively looking for information on brands1.

“Aussies spend 1 hour and 46 minutes per day on social media2, so it’s essential that brands get their social media presence right.”

So, what does this mean for marketers?
On average, Aussies spend 1 hour and 46 minutes per day on social media2, and it’s not all just TikTok videos and memes. So, it’s essential that brands get their social media presence right.

And while the role of social media differs between industries, there are three questions that all marketers should be asking themselves about their social profiles.  
Does it give people the info they need?
Knowing that your social profiles are quickly becoming the first stop when customers are researching your brand, make sure they include everything your customer would want to know at a glance, whether it’s your key services, opening hours, contact details or website. If you have the capabilities to manage it, it’s even better if customers can simply ask you through the platform, whether it’s through the built-in chat functionality or via comments on your posts.
Is it up to date?
There’s nothing worse (at least in the world of social media) than going to a profile that hasn’t uploaded anything in five months. Ensure you’re posting regularly and that any offers or campaigns you’re running are up on your social pages as soon as they go live.
Does it inspire?
Just as my wife (and millions of others) turns to Instagram for ‘food-spiration’, the same is done for fashion, travel, fitness, entertainment, art, tech – the list goes on. And even if your business doesn’t belong to one of these categories, there’s no reason why you can’t lean on them to inspire your customers, like using travel to inspire people about a savings account or card offer.

So, there you have it. While my wife’s insistence on ‘gramming everything before we leave the house might be a pain in the arse to me, it could be a sign of things to come for many brands, including yours.

on TikTok ads
Heard of Branded Hashtag Challenges? They are simply TikTok videos that encourage users to record themselves doing a simple action or ‘challenge’ under a brand affiliated hashtag. Engaging over 35% of TikTok users with about 6.1 billion views per challenge,3 they bolster recognition, big time. That’s some serious brand discovery, right there.
Branded Hashtag Challenges on a broader scale
TikTok’s Branded Hashtag Challenges are the most extensive ad schemes on the platform, offering users a multitude of touchpoints to help drive mass brand discovery.

The most successful campaign to date is Samsung’s #VideoSnapChallenge which amassed 27 billion views.

L’Oréal Paris’ takes second place with their #LetsFaceIt challenge, generating 16.9 billion views.

In third place was Bose’s #CancelTheNoise campaign, capturing 13.6 billion views.3

'But how do these stats translate against traditional media views?' I hear you cry softly. Well luckily, to help you conceptualise it, we've created this handy dandy chart.
  1. GlobalWebIndex, Social Flagship Report Q3 2020 (2020) GlobalWebIndex.
  2. We Are Social & Hootsuite, Digital 2021 Australia (2021) We Are Social.
  3. Mediakix, 100+ Branded Hashtag Challenges on TikTok: Campaign Results & Tips (2021) Mediakix.
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