Social media has quickly become a large part of digital marketing, as it is a great way to spread awareness, humanize brands, boost sales, and much more. Instagram and TikTok are both popular social networking applications that serve as great platforms for advertising and marketing. While they are both solid options for growing your brand or business, they have different strengths and weaknesses depending on your goals. Especially with the lockdowns caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, social media has seen a large increase in users in 2020 and 2021. It is safe to say that social media marketing isn’t going anywhere, so it makes sense for businesses to take advantage of the social networking phenomenon of the 21st Century.
What is Instagram?
Instagram, the older of the two social media applications, was founded in October of 2010. Fun fact, the first ever image shared to Instagram was of a dog sitting next to a taco truck in Mexico! Ever since then, millions of dog photos and many other photos have been posted to the 4th most popular social media platform worldwide. On Instagram, users can share photos and videos with others on the application. As a highly visual application, Instagram is particularly great for ecommerce businesses trying to increase their customer base.
What is TikTok?
TikTok, one of the newer social networking platforms, is a video-only sharing application. Started in September of 2016, TikTok has quickly risen the ranks and has found itself right below Instagram as the 5th most popular social media application. TikTok marketing is a great way for brands and businesses to show off their fun and creative sides. You an make videos as short as a couple of seconds, or as long as 10 minutes. Even though TikTok is below Instagram in terms of their amount of monthly users, it was still the number 1 downloaded application during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020. TikTok may have slightly less users than Instagram, but its growth rate is much higher (49% increase in downloads in 2019 for TikTok versus 28% for Instagram).
What does TikTok and Instagram have in common?
Since both social media applications are quite popular and trendy right now, it’s no wonder these social media giants are taking notes from each other. For example, once Instagram realized the popularity of TikTok and the structure of its application, Instagram decided to add something called “reels” to their platform. Reels work similarly to TikTok in that you post short videos that are then curated for users through the explore page (akin to the For You Page on TikTok). You can scroll endlessly through video after video, much like one does on TikTok. Instagram noticed that TikTok’s platform was growing faster than theirs, so they tried implementing comparable strategies to attempt and take some of the social media market back.
This is not to say that Instagram doesn’t have its benefits over TikTok, because it most certainly does. Unlike TikTok, Instagram has a more diverse user base, as TikTok is most commonly used by younger audiences (audiences that often don’t have their own money to spend). Instagram was first to utilize ecommerce with their shopping section known as the “Instagram Shop.” Instagram has integrated the shopping experience into the structure of their platform in order to streamline online purchases. TikTok took note of this and attempted to dabble in livestream shopping as well, but struggled to gain traction when they rolled it out into the United Kingdom. Because of this, TikTok abandoned their plans to expand their full-service ecommerce functionality into Europe and the United States.
Which social media platform should you choose for marketing strategies?
In reality, the best digital marketing strategy is to advertise on as many social media platforms as possible. But especially for new and smaller businesses, this can be a very time-consuming feat. If one had to choose between TikTok and Instagram for digital marketing purposes, Instagram seems to be the better choice overall as it reaches a larger age range of people and has a more consistent track record due to it being in business longer. TikTok definitely has some strengths over Instagram, one being its ability to seamlessly include paid advertisements into the rest of its content, with some people not even realizing they’re being sold something.
To decide between the two, use the questions below as a guideline:
What is your chosen demographic?
Depending on what age group you want to target, one social media platform may be better than the other. TikTok is better for targeting a younger age group, while Instagram may be a better choice for older audiences.
Do you want to use a social media application that is trendy or something that has a proven track record?
While TikTok is the hip and trendy application right now, Instagram does have a better track record since it has been around for longer. No one really knows how TikTok will continue to evolve, and one never knows if it will stay popular. For example, one of the top video-watching social media applications in the mid 2000’s, known as Vine, was shut down after only 5 years in business. Vine is often referred to as TikTok’s predecessor, so its not entirely crazy to wonder if TikTok will face the same fate as the once-beloved Vine.
How do you want to upload your content?
While Instagram posts can be scheduled by using Facebook, making it simple to upload in bulk, TikTok doesn’t give users this option. On the other hand, TikTok requires users to manually upload their videos at the specific time they would like the video to become public.
How much time are you willing to invest in creating content?
Since videos take more time to make, someone short on time may be better suited for Instagram.
What type of content do you want to create- videos, photos, or both?
While both videos and photos are a good way to advertise, if you want to pick just one, it’s important to figure out which social media application works for what type of content. If you only want to post videos, TikTok may be a better option. On the other hand, if you want to post both video and photo content, Instagram may be the more optimal choice.
Overall, both Instagram and TikTok are great ways to take advantage of the growing industry of social media marketing. Both applications have direct ways to advertise goods and services for little to no cost, making it a solid business strategy for both small and new businesses. It is also a great tool for large businesses trying to continue their growth. Think about your target audience and the type of content you would like to represent your brand, and that will help you figure out which social media platform is better for you and your business.