Without a doubt, the way we engage on social media is changing.

While scrolling through status updates, nostalgic photos, and funny cat videos shared by family and friends still has their place on social media, these platforms have taken on a much more prominent role in the way we seek out information.

Think about the ways you would typically use a search engine in your everyday web browsing. You can discover local businesses, shopping recommendations, or even learn a new skill. Nowadays, users don’t need or want to leave their social platforms to find this information.

Here are three ways that social media users are using their platforms as search engines, and how you can use them to your advantage to get your brand noticed.

Discovering Local Businesses 

Community Facebook and nextdoor Groups are becoming a database of local guides, recommendations, and discussions. Have you ever seen a post in your town’s social media group, “ISO: The best sushi in town?” (or “in search of” if you’re not fluent in social speak just yet). Word of mouth and personal recommendations can go a long way, and users are increasingly seeking these out on social media in addition to using traditional online search engines.

Creating and providing a notable positive experience for your customers will inspire them to become your local brand ambassadors and champions. Consumers love to share experiences where a brand goes the extra mile for them, especially on social media. Encouraging employees, and even regular customers, to mention your brand or share social proof (photos) on social media is a great way to get the word out about your business and create some buzz on social media. And because social media channels thrive on engagement as part of their algorithm, when community members are seeking personal recommendations, likes, comments, and shares can help spread the word quickly, furthering your reach. Even better? These recommendations have a built-in trust factor because they’re often coming from friends, family and neighbors. 

Online Shopping

If you follow your favorite brands on social media, chances are you’ve seen a product you were interested in and wanted to learn more about. Social media platforms, like Instagram and Pinterest, have made it easier than ever for brands to sell and for consumers to shop for their favorite clothing, decor, furniture and more without having to leave the native social platform

Social commerce takes the best of e-commerce and combines it with social media. If you have an e-commerce brand, setting up a shopping page on these platforms will allow potential customers to easily search, discover your products, and make a purchasing decision, all without leaving the native social platform. Native Social Shopping has become so popular that Instagram added a shopping tab to the main toolbar in late 2021.

Imagine a customer is searching for dresses. They can open Instagram, search their Shop page for influencers wearing a style they like, and then tap directly on the product in the photo to learn more. This creates a seamless shopping experience where customers can consider multiple brands, see the products on multiple models with honest reviews, and make an informed purchasing decision in a convenient way.

Learning a New Skill

Are you a visual learner? TikTok and Meta Reels are making it easy for users to seek out and engage with content that aligns with their interests – both old and new. Users are flocking to video platforms to watch cooking videos, workout routines, DIY tips, and more.

Helping your potential customers learn something new is a great way to get in front of and expand to a new audience. If your brand is selling fitness equipment or clothing, for example, organic video content with workout tips and routines featuring your brand can be a great way to get noticed by potential customers looking to improve their own workout routine. While they may not engage with your brand right away, this is a great way to reach and stay top of mind with potential customers in the consideration stage while they begin a new hobby or journey in their life.

Is your social media presence ready for how users are exploring and engaging with brands today? Through a purposeful social media and content strategy you can set your brand up for success – and ensure you’re taking full advantage of all the benefits social media has to offer.