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TikTok vs Instagram: Key Differences You Need to Know

TikTok vs Instagram – What are the key differences between them? And what makes them alike? 

Besides the fact that the two are among the most popular social media platforms out there, TikTok and Instagram are also known for one particular aspect: they’re both visual-based platforms. 

People go to these social media channels to engage with videos or photos and share cool content with their peers. However, when it comes to generating reach and engagement, there are some major differences between going viral on TikTok and going viral on Instagram.

In this article, we’ll explore the similarities and the differences between these two social channels and find out how you can customize your strategy for each one of them. Here we go!

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Table of Contents



What Is TikTok?

TikTok is one of the most popular social media apps for short-form video content. Brands choose TikTok to address rather young age groups since Gen Z users and young adults around the world make up the majority of this platform’s demographic. 

TikTok first emerged on the Asian market, but it soon became a worldwide favorite app for gen Z social media users in particular (especially during the global pandemic in 2020). Nowadays, this popular app is the go-to space for short videos of any kind.  

What Is Instagram?

Instagram is one of the most popular photo & video-sharing social platforms worldwide. It’s a well-established social channel that dominated the social media scene from the moment it was launched on the market.

Here are three factors that make Instagram successful among all types of users:

  • It is a great platform for influencer marketing
  • It has a wide variety of content formats (feed posts, stories, reels, carousels)
  • It has plenty of photo editing features (filters, stickers)

This social media giant has a highly diverse audience, males aged 25-34 being the predominant category of users, followed by women of the same age. However, there are plenty of other age groups who are active on Instagram, which makes it a great space to cater to a more diverse crowd.

How Is TikTok Different from Instagram?

As opposed to Instagram, TikTok is solely focused on short-form videos, while Instagram is a fully established visual platform that allows for photo-sharing on top of any type of video (short-form and long-form videos through the IGTV feature). 

However, more subtle nuances arise with creating and sharing social media posts on both platforms once you spend some time on them. 

Here are the main differences between TikTok and Instagram:

  • Target Audience Demographics: TikTok users are younger compared to Instagram users. Most TikTok users fall between the ages of 18 and 24 years old (both men and women), while Instagram users are mostly men and women between the ages of 25 and 34 years old.
  • User Behavior: TikTok is a platform where users go for entertainment purposes, mainly to watch random funny videos, short tutorials, and even educational content. On the other hand, Instagram is a platform where users catch up with their friends and check on their favorite influencers and brands.
  • Types of Content: TikTok supports video content only, while Instagram offers more range and allows users to post simple images, carousels, and video content.
  • Influencer Marketing: TikTok influencers are more spontaneous and authentic and have a closer relationship with their audience. TikTok is best for finding micro-influencers. In contrast, Instagram influencers are much more polished and treat their online presence are a brand asset. Instagram is best for finding well-established influencers.
  • Social Media Algorithm: If your main content goals are to reach more people, show off your brand personality, and go viral, TikTok is for you. On the other hand, if you want to generate leads, increase conversions and redirect prospects to your website, Instagram is a better option.

1. TikTok vs Instagram: How TikTok Users Differ from Instagram Users

TikTok has one billion monthly active users worldwide, compared to Instagram, which has two billion monthly active users. While TikTok has an audience mainly made up of Gen Z users, Instagram is more popular among Millenials.

In this section, we will focus on both user demographic and user behavior to help you discover the best social media network for your target audience.

Target Audience Demographics

TikTok appeals to a slightly younger generation that consists of Gen Z users. In contrast, Instagram’s user base is primarily made up of millennials (Gen Z is the second largest age group after Millenials). 

Here are the largest audience segments for TikTok and Instagram based on age and gender according to Statista:

 Demographics TikTok Instagram

Age

  • 25% of TikTok users are between 10 and 19 years old
  • 22.4% of TikTok users are between 20 and 29 years old
  • 21.7 of TikTok users are between 30 and 39 years old
  • 20.3% of TikTok users are between 40 and 49 years old
  • 31.7% of Instagram users are between 25 and 34 years old
  • 30.2% of Instagram users are between 18 and 24 years old
  • 15.8%of Instagram users are between 35 and 44 years old
  • 8.9% of Instagram users are between 13 and 17 years old

 Gender

  • 57 % of TikTok users are women
  • 43% of TikTok users are men
  • 50.7 of Instagram users are men
  • 49.3% of Instagram users are women

To gain more insight into your own followers, use a social media analytics tool like SocialBee to track your audience demographics.

And that’s not all. With SocialBee, you can also identify the days and time slots when your followers are most active on Instagram and discover how your audience engages with your content. 

SocialBee Analytics - demography data reach

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User Behavior

TikTok is a social media platform where users go for entertainment purposes, mainly to watch random funny videos, short tutorials, narrative-driven stories, and even educational content. On the other hand, Instagram is the favorite social media platform for catching up with their friends and checking on their favorite influencers and brands.

On TikTok, users are engaging and collaborating more. This is a platform that rose to fame by allowing people to create duets with each other and participate in trends and challenges.

Duet videos on TikTok

On the Instagram platform, people feel more comfortable posting, as it became a social norm to update your friends with everything that’s going on in your life through feed posts and IG stories.

On TikTok, most users are relying on their favorite creators for content, because not as many users feel comfortable posting there as they do on Instagram.

2. TikTok vs Instagram: Types of Content

TikTok started as a lip-syncing app that turned into a short-form video platform that people use to share their opinions, create educational videos, and even express themselves creatively through dance, music, acting, and jokes. 

In contrast, Instagram has always been a platform that thrives on visually appealing imagery. This allows people to showcase their lives in a more delightful way, whether by taking a photo of a delicious meal, sharing highlights from their vacation, or posting a video from a night out.

The content on TikTok has the following characteristics:

  • Videos take place in a casual setting
  • Most videos are edited to a certain extent (users add captions, voiceovers, filters, audio files, and also trim and merge clips to create transitions)
  • Users focus on creating or participating in trends, challenges, duets

The content on Instagram has the following characteristics:

  • It presents lifestyle-related everyday content people share with their online friends and followers
  • The content is highly edited and usually promotes eye-catching visuals 
  • The images are carefully created with a specific aesthetic in mind

Now that you have a general idea about TikTok and Instagram content, let’s look into specific content types you can post on both social media sites.

Instagram Reels vs TikTok Videos

Reels and TikToks are almost identical, as they’re both highly engaging short-form video formats that offer the same user experience (e.g. looping videos, swipe-up navigation, engagement buttons placed in the same area). 

They both have in-app features such as filters, editing tools, effects, and sounds.

Instagram introduced Reels to compete with TikTok’s successful content format, which is why users still prefer the original platform for this type of content. The chart below tells us everything we need to know about which content type is more popular.

Reels vs TikToks

Source: Digital Information World

While on TikTok, users create their videos by using the app, on Instagram, creators mostly reupload their existing videos. This is quite obvious since we see popular challenges and sounds from TikTok’s music library trickle down into Instagram. 

TikToks are more spontaneous and interactive. Users often make duets to add to someone else’s content, debate a topic, and even boost the visibility of other creators. Not to mention that a big part of TikTok’s culture is based on challenges and trends almost everybody adopts in their videos.

In contrast, Instagram doesn’t have the duet feature, and in general, the content posted is mostly self-centered. There is way less interaction between creators, and most of the trends you see on the platform have originated from TikTok.

Both types of content allow users to post short videos. Instagram Reels have a maximum span of one minute, whereas the maximum length for a TikTok is three minutes. 

TikTok Stories vs Instagram Stories

TikTok stories aren’t quite different from Instagram stories. In fact, they both are ephemeral content types that disappear after 24 hours, allowing people to see your short update of what you’ve been up to for the day.

TikTok Story

Source: Digital Information World

If you have a public account, it implies that everyone with an account can tap and see your story. However, if you switch to a private account, you’ll be sharing stories with your follower base only.

Stories are a great way to engage with your peers and encourage high-quality interaction. Oftentimes, different content ideas aren’t enough to form a post alone, so stories can help you relate a message without you having to put too much effort into creating an entire post. 

Moreover, stories are often your best shot at getting insights directly from users, as you can ask them questions, create polls, and encourage them to give an opinion on a given matter.

Here are the main differences between TikTok and Instagram stories:

  1. On TikTok, stories also are shown as regular FY posts, while on Instagram, you can only see them by tapping on the profile pictures that appear on the top of your feed/on the user’s Instagram profile.
  2. Unlike Instagram, TikTok stories have a feature called “templates” that creators can use to turn their photos into dynamic videos.

TikTok Live vs Instagram Live

Live streaming has gained a lot of popularity among social media users since it’s a much easier and more direct way to engage with your following.

On Instagram, celebrities and influencers use live streaming to: 

  • Showcase their routines
  • Promote other brands
  • Do live Q&As
  • Share highlights of their life (behind the scenes, holidays, private parties, etc.)
  • Express their opinion and start a discussion with their followers

In other words, Instagram uses this feature to let creators engage directly with their audience on a deeper level. 

With TikTok live, certain rules come when choosing to engage with your audience in real-time. If you’re at least 16 years old, TikTok will let you stream, whereas if you’re at least 18 years old, you have the option to send and receive gifts such as cash prizes. 

Overall, doing live videos on TikTok and Instagram can help you build relationships, network better, reach business goals, and cross-promote other social media accounts or even products and services.

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3. TikTok vs Instagram: Influencer Marketing

Influencer campaigns are a great way to reach a wider audience, gain credibility, and boost conversions. Not to mention that it’s a great way to promote your business without being overly promotional. 

Here are the main differences between TikTok and Instagram influencers:

  • Instagram influencers are creators that invest a lot of time into creating aesthetic and inspirational content for their followers. They carry their online persona as a brand, so they plan content with much care and attention.
  • Compared to Instagram, TikTok influencers are a little more unconventional, in the sense that they are just ordinary people that went viral at some point in time. As they continued to post content, they became a source of entertainment or knowledge and gained the title of “TikTok influencer” due to their growing following.

In general, TikTok influencers are more relatable and authentic and have a deeper connection with their audiences than Instagram influencers. This is largely because posting videos is much more intimate than sharing carefully planned and edited images on Instagram.

4. TikTok vs Instagram: Social Media Algorithm

People use TikTok to create short-form content and grow their profiles through viral videos. One great thing about TikTok is that it allows users to go viral without them having a large follower base. 

On TikTok, you have more chances to go viral by posting something widely relatable and funny, using trending sounds and hashtags, and participating in trends.

Ryanair TikTok Video

However, on Instagram, it’s more difficult because people have to follow you to see what you post on their feed.

Even on the explore page, it’s challenging to gain viral visibility, since people don’t spend as much time scrolling for content. The only exception is going viral on Reels where the process is similar to going viral on TikTok. 

When it comes to social media algorithms, both platforms work pretty similarly. 

Tik Tok and Instagram’s algorithms take into consideration the following factors before boosting content on user feeds:

  • User’s activity (likes, comments, shares, saves)
  • User’s followed accounts
  • Keywords (captions, hashtags, location)
  • Trending sounds used

Which Social Media App Is Best for You?

If you’re just starting out on social media, TikTok is your best chance to become a micro-influencer, grow your brand and increase your reach. However, if you post relevant content regularly, that’s generally a recipe for success on any social media platform. 

But the most important question still stands: When should you use Instagram, and when should you use TikTok to grow your brand?

Here are the most important factors to consider before starting to create content for Instagram or TikTok:

  1. Target audience: If you cater to a younger audience, use Tiktok. If your audience consists of both youngsters and adults, Instagram can be better. 
  2. Types of content: If your main content goals are to reach more people, show off your brand personality, and go viral, TikTok offers more visibility. On the other hand, if you want to focus on posting product images, shoppable posts, and creating content that generates leads, and redirects prospects to your website, Instagram is a better option.
  3. Influencer marketing campaigns: If you want to find more authentic and relatable micro-influencers, try TikTok. To get in touch with influencers that have an established online persona and more polished content, go to Instagram. 

Choose the Best Social Media Platform for Your Brand

If you’re a brand trying to achieve its digital marketing goals, chances are you’ll need to use both platforms to grow exposure.

Currently, almost every online business has an Instagram account. Not to mention that more and more companies are starting to migrate to TikTok to expand their reach.

Your social media success depends on how you build your strategy, more exactly how you choose the right platforms for your target audience, and the high-quality content you create for each channel.   

So, use today’s article to make the right decision and create a customized content strategy that works in the context of both platforms. No matter if you opt for TikTok, Instagram, or both, SocialBee is here to help you with your content creation and distribution tasks. 

Start your 14-day free trial today to manage your social media presence faster and easier than ever before from just one dashboard!

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