TikTok vs Instagram: Which Platform is Best for You?

Dana NicoleSocial MediaLeave a Comment

Picture of hands holding a cell phone and clicking on the TikTok app
Last updated on October 10th, 2020

I vividly remember my first time scrolling through videos on TikTok. As I swiped through copious videos of people dancing and lipsyncing, I thought to myself, “oh my gosh, I feel old,” and “wait…I kind of love this.

It almost reminded me of Instagram’s early days–back when we posted grainy brunch photos with that horrible Kelvin filter–and the older generations couldn’t fathom why anybody would want to see photos of our food.

But Instagram eventually grew into one of the most popular apps in the world and continues to transform the way businesses market themselves.

Could TikTok take a similar path…?

It seems like it already has and it’s catching up rapidly catching up with Instagram.

In the last year, TikTok has gone from an app for cute dance videos to a global video platform; according to some recent TikTok stats, TikTok is now the seventh most popular app in the world.

And it’s still in it’s infancy.

As TikTok continues to grow and offer more products for businesses, people have started wondering whether they should focus their attention on TikTok, or if they should stick with Instagram.

Today, we’re dissecting TikTok vs Instagram so you can understand which platform fits your needs, as both an individual and a business.

Overview

TikTok

TikTok is a video platform where users can record videos up to 60 seconds in length. In the Chinese market, TikTok is known as Douyin and was launched in September 2016 by its owners, ByteDance.

In 2018, ByteDance merged with Musical.ly and TikTok was born.

TikTok has roughly 800 million monthly active users.

Instagram

Instagram started as a photo sharing app but has since grown to include videos, stories, reels and more. Instagram, presently owned by Facebook, was launched in October 2010.

Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users and over 50 billion photos have been shared to this day.

Key points

Instagram currently has more active monthly users than TikTok:

  • Instagram has 1 billion monthly active users
  • TikTok has 800 million monthly active users

Demographics

TikTok

Many people think TikTok is an app for the younger generation and are surprised to hear that both young and old enjoy using it.

Statistic: Distribution of TikTok users in the United States as of June 2020, by age group | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

In the United States, 62% of users are under the age of 30.

However, TikTok still has a fairly large segment of users over 40 years old. If you are a business that targets this age group, it may be less competitive to reach them via TikTok.

And where do most TikTok users live? While TikTok has a strong presence in China–and formerly in India–there are roughly 30 million monthly active users from the United States.

In terms of gender, there are more females on TikTok than males (58.8% versus 41.2%) and the largest segment is women aged 18-24.

Lastly, 30% of TikTok users report household incomes great than $100,000. A large user base with a high disposable income is appealing for many businesses.

Instagram

Instagram has been known for being the Millennial’s app of choice, but is that still true?

Absolutely–Millennials slightly outrank other generations on Instagram.

Statistic: Distribution of Instagram users in the United States as of June 2020, by age group | Statista
Find more statistics at Statista

On Instagram, you’ll find less younger users than you will on TikTok.

But is that a good thing?

According to recent spending data, perhaps not.

Gen Z’s spend more per transaction compared to Millennials and average more transactions. Although younger, Gen Z is a powerful and profitable segment.

And what about where Instagram users live? American’s are the largest user base for Instagram, however, they aren’t the majority. 89% of Instagram users are located outside of the United States (with India and Brazil following), and it’s possible to reach many different nationalities through Instagram.

Like TikTok, there are more females on Instagram than males, but not by much (52% versus 48%).

In terms of income distribution, 42% of Instagram users make more than $75,000 per year.

Key points

Overall, TikTok users are slightly younger than Instagram users, however:

  • Both Instagram and TikTok are split evenly for males and females
  • Both TikTok and Instagram have large segments of affluent users
  • TikTok is most popular in China while Instagram is most popular in the United States
  • TikTok users are affluent and like to shop

Features

TikTok

Here are some key features of TikTok:

  • Short-form videos (maximum 60 seconds)
  • Sound library
  • Duet
  • Reply to comments via TikTok video
  • In-app video editing
  • Social sharing
  • Live stream
  • Effect library
  • Filter library
  • Clickable link in bio
  • Coins
  • Creator fund
  • Paid ads
  • Analytics
  • In-app shopping
  • For you page upon open
  • Content graph

Many of TikTok’s features are community and creator-focused. The ability to duet, reply to comments, and use people’s sounds are all incredibly useful features for brands who want to create a community with their followers.

Here’s why that matters.

Creating a community with your audience is going to increase your ROI; 70% of people who feel a connection with a brand spend double the amount than those who don’t.

TikTok’s $1 billion creator fund also shows how TikTok values its creators and wants to reward their efforts. As an individual or small business, making money on TikTok might be easier than on Instagram.

TikTok also has incredible in-app editing. Want cool videos? No need for external software or specialized skills; you can edit your videos right in your TikTok app.

Lastly, TikTok is a content graph, which means quality content is prioritized over social following. As a smaller creator, you don’t need to focus on gaming the algorithm (Instagram pods, anyone?) if you want to get more views–all you need to do is create great content.

Instagram

Instagram also offers tons of useful features for businesses such as:

  • Posts (photos and videos)
  • IGTV for long-form videos
  • Instagram Live
  • Instagram Stories
  • Reels (maximum 15 seconds)
  • Shopping
  • Clickable link in bio
  • Swipe-up link in Instagram Stories (for creators with over 10K followers)
  • Paid ads
  • Analytics
  • Social sharing
  • Limited in-app editing
  • Sound library
  • Follow feed upon open
  • Social graph

With different options to choose from, you can tailor your brand’s experience through your Instagram account. Whether you prefer photography over videography, there are features you can use to grow your business. There are also many Instagram apps to help you edit, plan and schedule your content compared to TikTok, where there aren’t as many dedicated apps quite yet.

Instagram also offers more opportunities for external linking, but only if you have at least 10,000 followers; smaller creators can only include external links within their bio.

Compared to TikTok, Instagram is more of a social graph, with an emphasis on followers. Going viral on Instagram vs TikTok is much more challenging because you need access to a large Instagram following for your content to take off. However, if you have a large following over your competition, you can be confident they won’t be able to overtake you any time soon.

Key points

  • Instagram offers more robust shopping and promotion features compared to TikTok
  • TikTok is currently being tested with Shopify and Teespring
  • TikTok is content graph–the platform rewards good content
  • Instagram is social graph–the platform rewards large accounts or those who spend tons of time “socializing” on the app

Is TikTok overtaking Instagram?

Instagram hit 800 million monthly active users in September 2017, seven years after it was launched in the United States. In comparison, TikTok reached the same number of active users only a year after being launched.

And seeing as Instagram recently introduced Reels, a competitor product to TikTok, Instagram knows that TikTok is a major source of competition.

But should you abandon your Instagram efforts for TikTok?

Whether or not you begin to focus your social media marketing efforts will largely depend on your goals!

For example, Instagram has more useful features, especially for ecommerce businesses. However, TikTok has been testing ecommerce features and I suspect we will see more options for retailers in the future.

Another thing I’ve noticed is both polished and unpolished content performs well on TikTok, which is great news for creators who want to create simple videos.

Instagram, on the other hand, requires tons of planning editing. Not to mention, Instagram’s in-app editing is limited and most users require additional tools to polish their content (such as professional cameras and editing software). TikTok offers incredibly in-app editing capability, so creators don’t need to have any special skills or equipment to make binge-worthy videos.

TikTok appeals to many users because the pressure to appear perfect doesn’t exist in the same sense that it does on Instagram.

So, who wins our Instagram vs TikTok showdown?

While it will always depend on the audience you need to reach, the type of content you want to create and the goals your have, TikTok is a social media platform you should not ignore.

You can always use both Instagram and TikTok to see which provides a better ROI for your business and your brand.

Do you like TikTok or Instagram better? Leave a comment below!



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About the Author

Dana Nicole

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Dana Nicole is a freelance content marketer. She has a Bachelor of Business with a major in marketing and has over 10 years of experience in marketing. She's passionate about Instagram marketing, blogging and SEO. Dana currently works with B2B and SaaS clients and uses her blog to help small businesses and bloggers learn online marketing!

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