Social media has been changing the way people think and act for close to two decades now. In recent years, Instagram and TikTok have transformed the space from status updates and photo sharing to video creation and influencer marketing. While the two platforms have their differences in reach and abilities, they can be used separately or in unison for powerful social media marketing.

Here, we’ll examine two of the most popular social media sites and apps right now: Instagram and TikTok. With many similarities and some distinct differences, it’s smart to deploy them differently in your marketing efforts. Let’s explore the best ways to market on Instagram and TikTok, and how to use them in concert for an even more successful social media marketing campaign.

Let’s Talk About TikTok

TikTok became wildly popular during the pandemic and now has the distinction of being the fastest growing social media platform on the planet, and has mushroomed to approximately 1.39 billion users. Users upload videos that are up to 3 minutes long, as well as looping videos up to 60 seconds long. The “Duet” capability lets two users work together on one video, “Stitch” enables users to combine another video with one they are creating, and “Reactions” lets users superimpose their audio and video reactions on another video.

Related: Breaking Down TikTok Marketing

Let’s Talk About Instagram

Founded in 2010 and bought by Facebook in 2012, Instagram was primarily a photo-sharing app that has now evolved to embrace the popularity of TikTok by also including video functionality. Instagram now claims one of the largest user bases in the world, with two billion users. Instagram has a number of video sharing features including Reels or IGTV. Instagram also offers live streaming, as well as images, carousels, Guides (listicles) and Stories (ephemeral content), all presented in a clean gridded style.

How Can You Leverage Instagram and TikTok?

While Instagram seems at first like an expanded version of TikTok, the two platforms have other important differences you can use:

  1. Audience: Instagram captures a broader demographic, and is the favorite for most Millennials and the older end of the Generation Z-ers. Further, Facebook also drives its older demographic to the site. TikTok, however, is the top social media app for teens and young adults; it also has the youngest creator base on social media. Compared to Instagram, TikTok also has a higher share of females with 59.6%, versus Instagram’s 50.8%. TikTok is stickier than Instagram; globally people spend 52 minutes per day here, while Instagram holds users attention for about 28 minutes per day.

  2. Video Editing: TikTok offers much more video editing capabilities, with a bigger music offering, plenty of stickers, sound effects, filters, green screen capabilities, and other effects. It also boasts better editing tools. Instagram Reels has some strong features, but effects can only be added before creating a clip.

  3. Algorithm: TikTok is superior here. The app has a “For You” page that’s similar to Instagram’s “Explore” page for its Reels. TikTok has harnessed AI models to determine what its users might want to see, and it presents these predictions one video at a time, with a toggle option that lets users switch between Following (see only videos from accounts they’re following) and For You (videos from both followed and non-followed accounts). With one video at a time, people tend to watch the entire length and therefore do not register as many partial views; this increases the number of impressions served. Instagram has a different approach. It uses its network and tracks user behavior to decide what to serve them in their Feed and Explore pages, whether its similar subjects, themes, hashtags, or more. It also lets them see more than one post at a time.

  4. Features: TikTok is a standalone app that only focuses on video creation and sharing. Instagram is more comprehensive since it includes video creation and sharing features. Reels, IGTV, and Stories are integral to the app. However it goes beyond this with images, carousels, and more. When you compare video capabilities, you’ll see that Instagram’s effects and editing are not as robust as TikTok’s.

    Related: Reels Deep Dive: Instagrams Alternative to TikTok.

  5. Social Commerce: As the more established platform, Instagram boasts in-app shopping, IG Story swipe-ups, premium pay-per-click advertising, and branded AR filters. TikTok is beta testing many of its ecommerce capabilities and also has strong link sharing to help users make purchases on sponsored posts easily.

  6. Influencer Marketing: While Instagram is far more established and boasts a large number of influencers, TikTok is catching up with engagement features like Stitches, Duets, and Challenges, as well as offering methods to create, save, and reuse original audio—all simple ways for influencers to add user generated content (UGC) to their sponsored posts. However, Instagram is still the frontrunner, with 98 percent of marketers claiming it’s the most influential platform for influencer marketing (44 percent higher than Facebook). Twelve percent of marketers most frequently work with TikTok influencers.

  7. Advertising Options: Since Instagram is a more established presence, it also has a stronger advertising base. Reels tend to deliver very well for marketers. On the TikTok front, there are also many opportunities for advertising, from In-Feed Ads to Branded Effects, to Brand Takeovers, to Branded Hashtag Challenges.

Which Works Best?

As you can see, both Instagram and TikTok have excellent benefits for marketers. To use each effectively, you’ll need to leverage their strengths. For a campaign targeted at Gen X, Millennials and older Gen Z-ers, Instagram might be your first choice, whereas a campaign slated to reach Gen Z-ers is very well suited for TikTok. If you’re looking to use an influencer to tie into your advertising efforts, Instagram is the top choice, but TikTok also offers many exciting options. If you want to guarantee that people are seeing your content and possibly spending more time with it, TikTok delivers one video at a time with added stickiness. Pairing both social platforms is also a smart strategy, as you’ll hit a wider audience and also increase impressions among those users that overlap. 

Related: Does Your Social Media Suck? Here’s How to Tell.

Want to know what strategy makes the most sense for your specific goals? Talk to us today. We can help you design a campaign that’s as powerful as the platforms on which it runs. Instagram vs. Tiktok? The right answer is what’s right for you.


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Written by Chanel Bostic

Chanel Bostic is a Digital Marketing Specialist charged with the strategic implementation of digital marketing efforts for Ironmark clients. After being in the industry for five years, Chanel enjoys being able to touch so many different areas of digital marketing in her role. Chanel comes from a background of non-profit work teaching girls from underserved communities about entrepreneurship and how to start their own business.

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