Google has dominated the search engine market in Canada for many years. In September 2021, the company accounted for almost 92% of searches. 

However, things evolve quickly in the digital world, and Gen Z is the driving force behind some major changes.

Here are a few unconventional ways Gen Z uses social media platforms to replace traditional Google searches.

TikTok and Instagram

Prabhakar Raghavan, a senior vice president at Google, says that almost 40% of young people turn to Instagram and TikTok, instead of Google Maps or Google Search, to discover new places. “We keep learning, over and over again, that new internet users don’t have the expectations and the mindset that we have become accustomed to,” Raghavan said at Fortune’s Brainstorm Tech conference in July 2022. “The queries they ask are completely different.”

Gen Z users are accustomed to visually rich forms of search and discovery, such as videos on social media. They prefer to discover places to eat or things to do in more immersive ways. 

In a way, young people use TikTok and Instagram similarly to how they use Pinterest—by saving their favourite videos into folders. In addition, we all know how scarily accurate TikTok’s algorithm is, and users rely on it to feed them geo-specific recommendations based on their personal preferences. 

As an example, let’s say we are looking for gold-plated jewellery. We can easily click on one of the ads on Instagram or TikTok from a jewellery brand within our price range. Within 24 hours, we get served more ads from similar businesses. The more we engage with the ads, the more choices we get. 


According to research, about 65% of people are visual learners. This is not surprising, as the brain can process images and videos 60,000 times faster than text, making image-based communication remarkably valuable. People retain 80% of what they see, compared to 20% of what they read and only 10% of what they hear.

This makes Pinterest the perfect search engine, as it’s one of the most optimized social media platforms for sharing visual content. 

Moving with time, Pinterest introduced Idea Pins in 2021 to spark conversations and encourage content creators to focus on short-form video content. Not surprisingly, the platform is seeing a 40% increase year over year in male and Gen Z Pinners. 

With its Guided Search feature, Pinterest has now become a combination of search engine and targeted advertising tool. As the platform puts it, “Just like everything else on Pinterest, search is visual. Because sometimes you don’t know what you’re looking for until you see it.”

As for Gen Z shopping habits, a research report by Pinterest shows that this demographic is 20% more likely to try new products, which opens up new opportunities for brands to tap into this market. Gen Z is looking for engaging content that stands out, adds value to their feed and highlights products they could see themselves purchasing.


According to the LinkedIn Ads Blog, Gen Z is focused on being financially secure and successful while learning new skills, so it’s no surprise that this demographic frequents LinkedIn for social media activities related to networking, learning and career research.

Another interesting insight is that this demographic has a higher industry engagement rate and career interest. Gen Zers are interested in following and engaging with companies within their career industry and are more likely to look at job boards. Linking back to an overall social strategy, this highlights the importance of having a strong and engaging brand on this platform. 

In terms of the content that Gen Z is looking for, they are more likely than other demographics to interact with influencers, with personal growth (presentation skills, leadership tips, how to overcome challenges, etc.) being their overall goal.

Do you want to connect with the fastest-growing consumer group in Canada? Gen Z users are looking for authentic, searchable and engaging content to connect them with businesses. Our team of social media experts is happy to help you create a cohesive social strategy. Get in touch with us here!