New Age Social Media Marketing: TikTok or Instagram?
Updated: May 19
Man is a social being which explains the increasing importance of social media for the current population. In the last two decades, social media has changed the way people communicate and express themselves; we have moved from forum chats and status updates to dynamic visuals and short video content.
Social Media marketing is here to stay, with the rise of their user base and the potential digital markets. In terms of marketing, visuals and video content are better at attracting attention and converting potential customers. Clearly, Instagram and TikTok are leading in terms of short visual content. Especially since the COVID-19 pandemic where everyone was confined physically yet their creativity roamed free. Both Instagram and TikTok have a world-wide presence with a ready-to-buy audience that is easy to market to. So the question arises, which should you choose for your business Go-To-Market strategy?
Instagram was launched in 2010 and then bought by Meta (previously known as Facebook) in 2012. This app was originally made for photo-sharing, providing a stage for digital creators, brand ambassadors and marketers. Even though it was not intended, sponsorships and product integration became a huge part of the app. On top, Instagram is a great platform for creating groups and communities which makes it great for influencer marketing. Content engagement and follower’s loyalty makes Instagram an ideal channel for brands to market their products and services.
Tiktok boomed in the pandemic, and now is known for being the fastest growing social media platform in the world. The platform started off as a short form video content, primarily comedic sketches, dance trends and lip-syncs. It has now become a home for world famous influencers, boasting huge followers. Influencers like Charlie and Dixie D’mello and Addison Rae rose to fame through TikTok and have increased their followers through the years.
It is predicted that Instagram may be entering its flop era since tiktok rose to fame. Instagram has tried to expand its user base by introducing real time updates like Stories and video content through IGTV and Reels which is pretty similar to tiktok. This update along with statistics like hours spent on both the apps and the growing user base of tiktok may show that Instagram might be replaced by tiktok. A common man may believe it since both the channels offer visual content with similar demography and world wide presence. Though in my opinion, it is not that easy and simple. Instagram offers a good competition to tiktok, and both cannot be considered in the same field, since the content types are quite different from each other.
While there are frustrations regarding the Instagram algorithm favoring reels over images, Static images and static content still is quite popular. It is because Instagram gives equal importance to the look and feel as well as subject of the matter; aesthetics are the king. Content creators on Instagram carefully curate their aesthetics and presentation. In fact, when visiting an account, the viewer can grasp its sense of style. This makes Instagram a great choice for curated design ads and marketing campaigns. TikTok has a more raw, lo-fi and unedited content structure where creators make and upload videos instantly. This makes it difficult to pinpoint the aesthetics of an account since it is all over the place.
Another point of difference is the algorithms of both the platforms. In a recent article about Tiktok’s algorithm, Arvind Narayanan says that every video has equal chances of success; number of followers do not play a huge role when it comes to your feed and what content is being shown to you. This makes it easier to get viral and popular on TikTok, but the trick is to maintain that virality. According to the Wall Street Journal, people spend around 197.8 million hours a day on Tiktok thanks to the algorithm that shows new people and new content randomly on their feed, making it more engaging and varied. Instagram algorithm favours accounts and creators whose base is already strong and have a good number of followers. They also have options like save, share and reposts that give a higher credit to posts than likes and comments. The algorithm strongly favours the influencers and established content creators who have a good loyal base that follow their content. This might be a letdown when compared to the rate of original and refreshing content exposed on Tiktok.
The basics of marketing tells you that you need to identify your target audience and curate your content which resonates with them or allows them to relate with your brand. While both platforms have a young audience, Instagram demography mainly spans from 25 to 34 years old and TikToks audience are largely GenZ followed by millennials and GenX. Tiktok's audience responds well to advertising but not the obvious ads, instead branded content and influencer partnerships. I mean, there is a video content type that is called “Tiktok made me buy it” which just goes to show the potential of marketing in this space.
So what do you choose?
Well that depends on your strategy. If you wish to communicate to GenX and Millennials then you should place your bets on Instagram. If you want to go viral and make sure that your content is reaching everywhere, then TikTok might be your go to. The key is to leverage on the strengths of the platforms. It also might be smart to combine and use both platforms that can create larger impressions and audience reach.