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Digital marketing: Instagram vs TikTok...

Updated: Apr 16, 2022

Digital marketing: Instagram vs TikTok...

Do you remember when, what seemed like the whole world, downloaded TikTok in March 2020?

Long before TikTok’s arrival, Instagram was the non-disputed winner of social engagement. Now, TikTok teases its ability to seize the title.

In the first quarter of 2020, it was downloaded a whopping 315 million times across Apple and Android phones, making it the most downloaded app in the world. By January 2021, TikTok had been downloaded over 2.6 billion times worldwide.

To differentiate the two, Instagram is a multi-purpose visual content platform (serving images, videos, reels, guides and stories in a 'grid' style), whilst TikTok specialises in short-form UGC video content.

Instagram’s algorithms suggests content you may like in both your feed and your explore page, based off your previously liked accounts, hashtags and key words. Contrastingly, TikTok suggests one video at a time that you may like, and allows you to toggle between your following page, and content it thinks you’d like ('for your page'). This staggered approach generally means viewers watch videos in completion on TikTok, more so than they would on Instagram. Showing one video at a time encourages full views, thereby increasing impressions.

Instagram’s audience are much broader. The highest percentage of users are in the 25 - 34 year old age range. As Instagram is owned by Facebook too, it allows for seamless promotion for Instagram to target older Gen Z and Baby Boomers audiences already on Facebook. TikTok, however, remains the leading social platform for teens and young adults. A huge 70% of its users are between 18-24 years old, closely followed by 61% aged 12-17 years old.

Whilst TikTok is beta testing various e-commerce tactics, e.g. allowing purchases through account pages or affiliate programmes, Instagram remains the top-performing e-commerce social channel. Among its many social commerce features are in-app shopping, PPC advertising, story swipe-ups, and branded AR filters.

Additionally, Instagram remains the clear winner for influencer marketing. However, because TikTok is still developing in this sector, TikTok influencers compete with fewer creators, so it’s ‘easier’ to gain a higher follower count with less competition.

There are currently millions of macro influencers (10,000 - 1,000,000 followers) on Instagram compared to 2,000 - 15,000 of these on TikTok, with 30 times that many nano and micro influencers (100 - 10,000 followers), compared to 5,000 - 50,000 of these on TikTok. This broadens the selection brands on Instagram can partner with due to the huge dynamic in influencers, whilst finding specialist influencers that share their values and interests.

TikTok is a fast-growing creator network with the most engagement options on social media. Unlike most social channels, TikTok offers more than standard likes, comments, and shares. Creators promote a host of sharing options, including stitches, duets, challenges, creating new content and reusing popular audio.

Therefore, although Instagram owns the title for leading influencer marketing, TikTok's user base has absolutely rocketed beyond anyone's belief over the past 24 months and both can provide undisputed marketing value to brands.

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